Happiness can be simple
Create with me - murder mystery edition, did someone say game night?
Over the decades, the concept of ‘happiness’ has become a lot more complicated. There are a lot of factors we must weigh up before we can award ourselves the title, ‘happy’.
Do we have enough money? Are we popular enough? Do we have enough followers on social media? Are our lives exciting enough? Is my job something others will deem acceptable? Do I have the perfect body? Do people envy me? And the hardest one of all, am I good enough?
These are just a few that come to mind without putting any real thought in. I hate to admit it, because even though I give speeches convincing people that all of this stuff doesn’t matter, I too am guilty of this, we all are at some points, of letting our happiness be affected by feeling inadequate.
These are our low points - our lounging around in our sweatpants, procrastinating and crying into a tub of ice cream points (because chick flick culture has taught us that’s how we deal with our problems). Despite being a fan of the sweats and the ice cream, and occasionally the crying, (if I’m in the mood for it) I’m not overly a fan of the feeling of not being ‘enough’. If you’ve seen the movie, ‘inside out’ this feeling can be represented by a cute but very depressing little blue character called, ‘Sadness’. Although we try our best to dodge her, she is sneaky and relentless and sometimes it’s just impossible to ghost her, but boy do we try.
So, you may be wondering, how do I keep myself in check? I like to remind myself and the people I love, that it’s those simple things that count.
Without realising, it’s those simple memories that we hold on to. People always say that last minute plans turn out to be the best plans, well I think sometimes the simplest memories are the ones we hold most dear, like late night laughing fits for no reason, or that walk we took on a sunny day planning our dinner.
It makes me happy to try and make things special in a way they’ll always be memorable, at the end of the day that’s what we want to look back on, a life filled with times that we were happy.
So, for my older sister’s 25th birthday, I created a ‘walk through memory lane’. I made little notecards for her to follow, each notecard was placed somewhere in the house or the garden, and on that notecard, was a memory linked to that specific location. When I started writing these notes, I realised that I had so many things that rushed to my mind, I could link a memory to the front door, the fridge, even the living-room floor.
I realised while doing this that I didn’t need lots of materialistic things or expensive holidays, I certainly didn’t need a lot of likes on Instagram, to have had a full and happy childhood, because it was the memories that I associated with the living-room floor that stuck in my head.
I like to think of myself as a highly creative person, I feel it’s part of my identity, and if you’ve got it, flaunt it, so why not put my creativity into something that’s fun for everyone, and what you may ask is fun for everyone? Murder mysteries, of course.
The players can leave reality behind, forget their troubles, laugh and have their brains challenged, and their heads metaphorically scratched like a confused cartoon, by motives, character arcs, scene setting and all that good stuff.
Just take a minute, do you remember when you were younger, and you felt like anything was possible? I miss that feeling, the excitement of a world yet to be explored, a life yet to be lived. When you’re young and your imagination is at 100% battery life, you can live in multiple different realities, you can be anyone or anything you want to be. As adults we’re a little more limited, our battery juices are running a little lower, sometimes so low we have to slip into battery saving mode.
I like to bring that 100% back to life occasionally, and I will continue to chase that feeling until I no longer can; although I’m not too worried, I’m very in touch with my inner child.
Let me walk you through my murder mystery creative process. Picture me, (whatever way your mind tells you that I look when you read my words) a hot coffee in hand, sitting down at my kitchen table, scribbling ideas all over a piece of paper until the ink covers the majority of the page and there’s just a few lonely white spots.
Normally when I write, I go straight to my laptop, or the notes folder in my phone, but for this sort of thing, I like to let my hands do as much work as possible, like I would have done before all of this technology took over, and so, I write. My handwriting is a far cry from perfect, although it does have a certain aesthetic appeal, it can be often misunderstood, which doesn’t work well for my game, so I take my sweet time.
First, I set the scene: an old mansion set in rural England, a glamorous Gatsby inspired party in the 20s, or maybe we’re on an all-expenses paid cruise. I figure out the characters and their back stories, delving a bit too much into their personalities: likes, dislikes, fears, favourite foods, that sort of thing. Then I take my trusty scissors, (making sure to walk responsibly with them like they taught me in primary school) and I start cutting. I chop the paper as streamline as possible, into little flash cards: outlining names, motives, and character links.
The next part is to figure out the murder weapon, of which we must have many possibilities to keep the players guessing. For this, and deciding the names of the characters, I turn of course, to Cluedo, because sometimes the classics just work best. Let’s appreciate the game Cluedo for a moment, what a brilliant idea, and who doesn’t love sitting down to find that Murder She Wrote is starting on Channel 5, or getting stuck into a good ‘Who Done It..’ book. Well maybe you don’t and that’s not your thing, but humour me - I take my talent for story writing and I create my very own thrilling and suspenseful ‘Who Done It..’ murder mystery for my guests to star in. Last Halloween I dressed as a fortune teller and gave my guests a reading of their characters. It sounds like a lot of effort, and it is, but it’s worth it to put a smile on other people’s faces and to have a night of laughter.
Creativity is powerful, so hopefully what you’ll take from this, is inspiration to find something you can create and use that creation to make something that is worth more than money, a genuine, heart-warming, beautifully simple, smile.