The good life


Clean sheets, red wine, the seaside, lemon meringue pie and granchildren. We asked you what puts a smile on your face. Here's a selection of readers' responses.

Susan Whately, Co Dublin

My husband, children, family, friends, red wine, good food, humour, make-up, people being courteous, good service. I am happy most days, especially looking at my children, nature, or when the scales move down.

Anja Nohlen, Monaghan

Driving out from Monaghan to Giles Quay on the one fine day since Christmas. Going for a long, leisurely walk, listening to gentle waves, watching ducks fly in formation, picking up and discarding the odd stone or seashell, smelling the salty seaweed, feeling the sunshine and the breeze on my face. All on my own. Bliss.

Ailish Connelly, Dublin

“Have a whiff of my hair, mammy.” My youngest delights in my joy at his newly showered crowning glory, while I get a disproportionate pleasure from his fresh aroma.

Ciara O’Regan, Dublin

I take up my usual seat on the left side of the carriage and, between Dalkey and Killiney, the Dart enters a tunnel.

As it emerges, I look out at the sea and the cliffs and bask in the beauty just beyond Dublin bay.

On drizzly days, it is gloriously grey, and the waves move gently and as if with purpose. On brighter days, the sunshine slips through the clouds and the sea glistens. It sounds funny, but these several seconds of seascape provide me with the purest moment of peace and happiness. I arrive at work ready to face whatever the day throws at me.

Moira Curran, Dublin

I am happier now than I have ever been in my life. When I was in my 20s I found out I was unable to have children. My marriage broke up. This was hard and affected my happiness.

I felt I had failed in some way. Now, at 63 and living alone, I tend to worry less and live in the moment. I love photography and am really happy when I put my memory card from my camera into my laptop, and my pictures come alive.

I am conscious of having limited time, so I try and enjoy each day. The one thing that would maybe increase my happiness quotient would be meeting someone. It would be really fun to have someone to share things with, laugh with and be happy with.

Helen Mason, Co Dublin

One of my happiest moments was watching some fat Thai bees the size of small birds on a beautiful flowering shrub on the first morning of our holiday on Ko Samui, Thailand.

Dolores O’Malley, Dublin

I love the time spent with my three grandchildren. I never thought I would travel to outer space in the little sauna I bought for the auld arthritis. I put my hand over my mouth while we count down to blast-off, chase moon bears when we get there, or meet Mars man – a ferocious creature, it seems. Hold their hands while they jump on the beds when they tire of the space-travel. Clap when the last piece of jigsaw goes in. Make butterflies from mála. Show little hands how to pet your dog without touching tail and ears.

To grandparents I say: put away the breakables and enjoy this fleeting time when you are so important to them and age is just a number. They don’t even know yours; you can forget it too. They just know that you have an endless supply of love and biscuits.

Marianne Cronin, Co Clare

Clean sheets on my bed, a good book, The Irish Times Magazine, a walk in the woods, a warm cat sitting on my lap, the beach, the stars at night, Leonard Cohen, Lisa Hannigan, cycling through Paris and the colour purple.

John O’Brien, Co Dublin

We’re very hard on ourselves as a nation, and maybe that’s warranted sometimes, but we still have a wonderful ability to take the time to connect and be curious and be hospitable.

What makes me smile and affirms my conviction that this isn’t a bad little country at all is meeting Irish people anywhere. I met several groups of people today on Tibradden Mountain, ranging from a troop of cub scouts to a group on a Conquer Cancer sponsored walk and, despite the rain and cold, they were without exception all chatting and smiling.

Rod McAlpine, Co Cork

Freshly brewed coffee, white cotton sheets, a smile from a stranger, a genuine handshake and a letter in the post are all uplifting.

Claire Fitzgerald, Dublin

The miniature pansy that has managed to survive all winter in a sheltered crack on the path I take in and out of my building each day.

Maura O’Neill, Co Kildare

We built our house at the edge of a cornfield and over the years I have become captivated by the way the earth changes with the seasons. My idea of happiness is to walk in my cornfield, to feel the earth strong, firm beneath my feet, to be aware of the fresh air I breathe, to feast on the buttercup yellow of the ripening corn: this beauty always brings joy to my soul.

Louis Mullen, Dundalk

I am 84 years old and thriving. I must give all the credit to my wonderful wife Bonnie, whom I met in San Francisco in 1957 when I worked in the airline business. We married in 1961 and have never had a real argument. I have seen the most beautiful places in the world and met some of the most interesting people, including the incredible Bing Crosby, Yul Brynner and, best of all, John F Kennedy. I have two sons who have contributed to my life of happiness. They are married to two lovely and talented women, one in Tennessee and the other in California. Yesterday I had a Skype call from my gorgeous twin granddaughters in California, aged eight, to let me know that they are impatiently waiting for our visit in September so that each one can kiss me “a million times”. Am I happy? Is that enough to make an old man happy? You bet.

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