Sooo… We voted in the local elections yesterday… I always use my vote, it is the bedrock of democratic society and leaves in tact my right to complain at the television when the politicians are on… it got me thinking…

Just as Gordon Brown stepped into the hot seat of Prime Minister, not voted into the position, he had to deal with the worst financial crisis known to man… Then swine flu gripped the nation and we were all going to get pig-transmitted sniffles and, no doubt, snuffles if we weren’t careful… As the panic died down marginally, up came the biggest scandal in political history — the MPs expenses abuse… Along with continued wars in far away lands which our troops are fighting…

What a torrid time it has been… All of these issues rage on as fiercely as ever… However, they have all now been eclipsed and put to the shadows. Why? Let me tell you why, let me explain what phenomenon has made all that stuff a distant echo…

Peter and Katie have split.

OMG! Not kewl.

Did you like my ‘teen-texting-style’ response there? 😉

Peter and Katie, who met in the jungle on TV… All the magazines, websites and TV are able to tell us who they have been hanging out with since, where they are going, who said what to who, who loves the children, the reasons for doing it, why they never really wanted it to happen, why it did happen, whose divorce lawyers were contacted first, who made the final decisions, who has been courting infidelity, who is wearing what, whose career will suffer the most, blah, blah, blah.

Thank you Peter and Katie for diverting the world from the impending apocalypse of Gordon Brown’s reign as Prime Minister. Why I am mentioning this today? For no reason other than joyous ones, let me explain…

In similar fashion to the fall from grace of Britney Spears or even the shenanigans of Pete Doherty before her, we have Ms. Amy Winehouse…

Can you imagine being hailed as one of your generation’s most talented artists… Perceived by your record company as so talented, in fact, that your record company happily gets the bill for you to stay at premier island resorts for months on end…. Paying for all your expenses and those of six accompanying minders.

There she is, incredibly wealthy, has two parents that seem to love her very much, and to top it off, she has millions of fans … all this at the relatively young age of 25.

The paparazzi continue to capture her on film crawling across bar floors, begging tourists for drinks after bartenders refuse to serve her.

Her second album in 2006 sold over 11 million copies, she won Grammies, yet remains in self-destruction mode.

Her story has endured… We continue to hear so much about her raging addictions to heroin and crack, now to alcohol. We see her skeletal frame, skin riddled with bruises and burns and self-cutting scars.

Is she ever sober in public? Each time I see her in the news, I want to save her in the same way I want to grab a rabbit stood motionless in the middle of the road with headlamps shining on it…

For all its tragedy, Amy seems to be a captivating glimpse into the drama of addiction and makes us ask many questions as to how and why she is like this.

In the middle of a gloomy financial time for most, her rewards appear enormous: a vastly successful career that comes with incalculable admiration and riches, for decades to come. She seems, literally, to have everything to live for.

Still not enough? Or is she too young to see this? Am I feeling old? Does the joy of living elude us until later on and we appreciate life more?

Why can some people not seem to find the joy of living?

My wife and I are enraptured at the moment with the new, yet very old fashioned doors and staircase that we have just added to our home… I delight at watching the speed the sweet peas in my garden are blooming, and how the smell of those we cut and place in a tiny vase seems to fill our entire day room that overlooks the garden…

What about those little things… I’ve attended two weddings in the past two weeks and almost everyone is fabulously joyful at those… A birthday, getting a promotion, moving into a new home, receiving a healthy pay packet are all cause for celebration and we can all find joy in things like that. But those material things or solitary occasions aren’t the only things that make up joyful living, are they?

Joyful living for me is also the summer breeze while watering the garden, walking along our favourite local beach early in the morning, the silence that needs no interruption, teaching my students, laughing with friends, the love of a hug with a family member… Living with joy is a continuous action. It is a mindset that finds joy in everything around you. Which attracts even more good to you, bringing you yet still more joy.

So why not look for joy everywhere today? For the day, ignore the recession, swine flu, the MPs scandal, Katie and Peter and find proper joy in the people you meet, the things you learn, and even the mistakes you might make… Joy is there in everything, make an effort to fins it and eventually you get to the stage where it is no longer an effort, instead, it is just happening to you.

I shall even be finding joy while marking my students homework prior to teaching my hypnotherapy diploma course this weekend. Honest guv’nor.

Have a wonderful, joy-filled weekend.