Happiness hacks #4: Make water your drink of choice

Ok, admit it. How many times have you set out to drink your daily quota of water, only to end up congratulating yourself for chain drinking coffee and not a lot else? (Technically it counts, but it is dehydrating.)

The answer, if you're anything like me, is too often.

I do try. I really do. I have enough BPA-free bottles to support a small nation. I have a Chilli flask (love these as they keep the water ice cool) on my desk at work, which does help when I get round to filling it. I have even tried tactics such as getting a glass of water with every drink. I know I could exist quite happily with water, coffee, tea and wine alone (although I would rejoice if they brought back tab clear for a day). Trouble is, I have my quantities all wrong.

So why am I choosing to share my failed attempts with you? Because, while hooked up to a blood pressure machine after a short anaesthetic recently, I saw very quickly how much your body needs water to function effectively.

My blood pressure was low. The solution? The nurse left the room and came back with two big bottles of water and said: 'get cracking'. And get cracking I did. By the next check I had passed with flying colours. I queried this with the nurse and she said that, put simply, water is fuel for the body. You wouldn't drive a car without filling up the tank. So why do we always expect our bodies to work if we don't feed them what they need? 

The clear stuff is essential. Just wish it hadn't taken me 34 years to realise just how essential. 

How much exactly does our body need? You could, of course, calculate exact quantities and stick to a strict regime (I have tried formulas based on body weight to work out measures), but this feels neither sustainable nor fun. The guidance from the NHS' Eatwell plate (which says 6-8 glasses a day) feels fluid enough to build into your day. 

I have cleared a good two litres a day on holiday. Let's hope the habit travels back with me when life tries its best to get in the way. 

Cheers! (of the not so alcoholic kind)

Life lesson number one: If you want to achieve something in life, write it down

I have heard it said that happiness lies at the end of a to-do list. Well, if you've ever got to the end of one, do write to me and let me know what it feels like. I just keep adding.

If you haven't got a list on the go - a place to score off your successes and focus your mind - you are not living. By list, I don't just mean a to-do list for work to get you to the end of a project or the start of another day. By list, I mean a life list - and lots of them!

Lists force life. By turning everything from goals and dreams to habits and contact with friends into a series of bullet points, we can both write the future and celebrate - or learn from - the past.

Not all lists are born equal. While a great way to remember all the things you have to do, the most important ones are those that capture what you really want to do or help you work out what you love doing. A 'brighter life list' will get you thinking about climbing that mountain. A 'gratitude diary' will record what it felt like when you made it to the summit. A world without a 'where next?' list, is just a world. A world with a list of all the destinations you'd love to explore, is your world.

At a funeral over the summer, I learned just how important list-making was to a friend who had tragically lost his life. How I would have loved to have swapped bullet points with my inspiring colleague. In his memory, I am making a public commitment to keep listing and keep living. I know he wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

I will be writing all about list-making on the pages of this blog (find out more at List Love) as well as distilling down all the things I've learned about life into handy listicles (X ways to...) to lighten the load.

Here's my list of lists to get you started (I will hyperlink them when I have written about them and probably keep adding)

Brighter life list
Gratitude list
Line a day (with happiness rating)
Where next?
Smiling list
Interest log
If, then... list
Cook a day list
Never list
Reading (and rereading) list
Quotes I love list
Values list
Reverse bucket list
Nurture list
10-minute list
30-minute list
Positive affirmations
Habits list
Goals list (the 90 days list)
Life commandments
This month list
Life hacks

If you love it, list it - and then live for the moments you get to tick things off.