I’d been invited by the fabulous team at Warwick Castle for a weekend’s event, and the launch of their Wars of the Roses live jousting show. Staying in a knight’s themed wood log cabin (brilliant!), visiting the castle dungeons (petrifying), I was highly excited as I embarked upon my trip – FYI, I have a love of all things princesses and castles. I was also aware it was a work weekend and I was there to explore filming opportunities for my children’s programming.
Having driven the wrong way up the M40 (don’t ask) I arrived rather stressed, in urgent need of a loo, and having spent the whole journey worrying about a business deal at work that was greatly concerning me. I’d tried desperately to put on my favourite happy song, bring my mind back to the present moment, and breathe, but all roads led back to the seemingly falling-apart deal. I was not a happy princess.
As I emerged from the tree-lined pathway from the car park, I was hit by the numerous children running around dressed as knights (including the girls!), armed with wooded swords and shields, and completely lost in the joy and magic of the moment. Playing, laughing, sword-fighting – having fun. They were almost erupting with delight. I couldn’t help but smile as all the stress dissipated and I felt my body relax (then helped by the fact I’d had a quick bathroom visit).
When the clouds gathered, and the droplets pinged from the sky, this far from dampened the spirits of the children around me. As I watched them everywhere, they were truly and innocently lost in the present moment, living it second by second, loving it minute by minute.
My adult self kicked in. Why can’t I be like that – as the negotiation issues popped back into my head? Why can’t us grown-ups live like children? I thought of the times I found this easier to do – when I was doing some sort of sport, lost in the moment of a beautiful piece of art, engrossed in a connected conversation. And as I cheered for the House of Lancaster’s jousting knights, I too found myself totally absorbed and (for no apparent reason whatsoever) really needing Lancaster to win – and whole heartedly boo-ing the evil House of York. I was in the moment again, happy as Larry.
One of my favourite pieces of happiness research is by Matt Killingsworth, who used smartphones to track people’s feelings and actions in real time. By tracking over 2,000 individuals from all walks of life across the globe, he discovered that we’re happier when we’re focussed on what’s happening right now in the present.
As I left the jousting to move onto the dungeons (only suitable for over 10’s if you go there – I was seriously scared!) I so wanted to buy myself a knight’s outfit and join in the fun. Sadly, it seemed it was child sizes only. Even so, I left feeling like a big kid.
That day was a happy day – for so many reasons (I love Warwick Castle, it’s amazing; I got to share time with the lovely Claire; I’ve always wanted to be a princess). One of the biggest, however, was it brought me back to the present moment. It made me remember how important this is. And of course, who can resist a knight in shining armour?