Like most of us, sometimes I find myself in a ” happiness chase” . I mean isn’t this what we all want, to be happy? Sometimes it feels like I am in a marathon and I really need to find a way to be happy asap because I am getting older. I am only 25 years old and when this thought strikes me, I strike back at it ” Old? Are you serious, R? Go get a life! ” haha.
But what does happiness really looks like? Where can we find it? And when we find it, how can we maintain it? Maybe we are not happy because we don’t have a fulfilling career or maybe it’s our relationships or maybe we don’t like where we live or maybe, maybe, maybe. Most of us, specially from what I have seen in America, tend to associate HAPPINESS with the pursuit of SUCCESS. We all read or know people that have read and tell us about the power of self-help books. They go something like ” be positive and you will attract great people, great opportunities, great everything!” or ” every morning or at night before sleep, say you want 1 million $ like you already have it and you will be a millionaire!” . Aham, that’s why I am a millionaire now! Haha. All this sounds like a lot of pressure, because lets be honest now, who is happy 24/7, seven days a week? And when you have that little moment of sadness maybe because you miss someone or you just had a bad day at work and you expected to come home and find your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife preparing dinner for you or you are simply sad with no reason ( it happens a lot to me), guilt takes space. It almost feel like we are betraying ourselves. ” I can’t be sad, if I am negative I will not attract great everything, so sadness go away! “. But when you tell ” sadness” to go away, sadness becomes bigger! So lets leave all these books and find our own answers!
First, we need to find our own definition of happiness. What makes someone happy can make the other sad, so find your own interpretation! Before we rush into getting the things we want, we need to think long and hard wether it will make us happy or not.
I remember, almost one year ago, standing on my balcony facing the garden, in my hometown, in Romania. It was one of those normal days, a Monday actually, when everyone is at work doing their own thing, all sharing the same wish : ” Sunday please come back ” . I am not a spiritual person, but that day I had a sparkle , a moment. As I was sitting there I realized that everything about me, about this moment was perfect. Looking at those ugly communist buildings, hearing the noisy disturbing sound of the cars, wearing my comfortable not matching pj’s, with my hair tied up in a cinnamon bun shape, all of this was actually perfect. Me giving up on everyone’s dream to become a doctor ( except mine) and taking a year break, me feeling so scared about moving to the USA, me not doing anything at all at that moment for my future ( except going to the gym) when everyone around me was doing everything for their future, me thinking that I am 24 years old and still don’t have a job which means I have to keep asking my parents for money, me feeling that I am losing everything I had gathered all those years about me. But somehow, there, on my balcony, on that day, in that moment, I felt I am exactly who I needed to be. This filled my heart with peace and a feeling of pure, simple joy that had nothing to do with what I have, where I am or what am I doing. It ended quickly, like I said, it was like a sparkle. But it lasted long enough to make me understand that happiness is not really connected to where you are and what you have, it comes within you. I kept this moment, hidden in my heart, as a reminder that whatever path I am walking on, it’s the right one! I have to admit, it was hard sticking to this words. I knew the decisions I was taking will be something hard to follow. I had to let everything go, everything that I had ever invested time and energy in. Also my family, my dog, my friends, my EVERYTHING but I found that when you are brave enough to pause your life for a bit, you become aware that all these things that you think will bring happiness to you, such as ” I need to be a doctor!” or ” I need to buy those shoes” or ” I need to go live in Australia” or ” I need this job, apartment, car, etc” don’t really matter. Instead those things like watching a movie with your family, walking your dog in the afternoon, morning coffee with mom or spending quality time with my siblings are the important things in life. Of course, a new car will make you happy or achieving a title such as Doctor, but it will last little and after that you will find yourself chasing for another car or another pair of shoes. Chase that will make you focus only on those moments, forgetting to actually enjoy life and find your own small happy moments. For example, a father works every day so hard to get his children whatever they want because he loves them and their happiness it’s his happiness right? But because of doing that, he sometimes is too tired, too stressed to spend time with them, play with them, watch movies together, take walks with their dog and listen to how was their day at school. His own chase for happiness is blinding him and he can’t see that happiness is actually in front of him. Do you get it? His kids will be happy because they have so many toys and clothes but they will never have a father. And after all, no one remembers their toys or clothes or anything material from their childhood, we remember the pillow fight with dad or that time when mom and dad tickled us so bad we peed on ourselves ( that actually happened, haha). Their father thinks happiness is having things and thats what he is giving. He is, without knowing, teaching his kids the wrong definition of happiness, the same one he was thought. And there are high chances that his kids will be chasing things too in order to be happy, as adults. It’s like a vicious circle, until someone cuts it.
Around the age of 22, my friends and I were deeply interested in becoming more aware of us, of our feelings. We even went to the same psychologist and took a one year group course where we learned how to improve our relationships, our lives by changing our belief systems, redefining things like happiness, learn how to communicate efficiently and many other interesting things. Although at that time we all had our backpacks filled with some unwanted things that were weighing us down, like that example I gave with the wrong definitions from our parents I still have so many left. Some of them I may never organize or maybe there are some I am not even aware of yet. I am mortal, I finally got to the conclusion that I don’t have forever to organize my backpack in a perfect way so that I can have a perfect life. And it really doesn’t matter how long you live ( the people that are the most scared of dying are the people that feel they are not really living) because, and now I am going to quote author Marcia Menter because I love how she said it, ” even a short life can be a very long journey and we all need provisions for the trip. We need some good food, good stories and people to share them with “.
” Even a short life can be a very long journey and we all need provisions for the trip. We need some good food, good stories and people to share them with ” – Marcia M.
Leslie Pepper, a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, nutrition, parenting, and lifestyle who has written for dozens of publications, including Harper’s Bazaar, said the following : “Happiness is a cornerstone of productivity ” . I think most of us tend to believe that life works the other way, that productivity is the cornerstone of happiness but I am going to agree with Leslie this time. ” Countless studies have shown that people who are happier have better jobs, are evaluated more positively by their boss and make more money. They are also more charitable and more satisfied with their marriages, and they have stronger immune systems. ” says Mrs. Pepper. She also puts what I was saying earlier, in a more simple way ” After an initial rush, we quickly adapt to whatever it is we think will make us happier and soon take it for granted, at which point it no longer brings contentment.” Mrs. Pepper calls this ” hedonic adaptation” . Using the following example, she explains in a simple way what does it mean. ” When you step into an air-conditioned room on a hot and humid day, you feel spectacular. But after about 5 minutes, it’s simply what it is : comfortable, but no longer pleasurable.”. She adds up saying ” Same principle holds true for money, but there is little correlation between cash and contentment “.
The definition of happiness changes as fast as we do. What used to make you happy four years ago, may not make you as happy now. Actually, in some cases, it does! Sometimes, we find hard to change exactly for this reason. We stick to whatever makes us happy or think that makes us happy because we are afraid to lose that. We may think that it’s better to stick to this level of happiness or however you want to call it, instead of adventure into something else, something new that might take away what we have and know. It’s more comfortable! We tend to change only when we are somehow forced to, like really ” I can’t take it anymore” kind of feeling. Otherwise, change sounds too much of a work. My favorite example on this issue is the one with the ” burnt out bulb example”. There was this couple that had a three bulb lights table lamp. When the first bulb light burnt out, no one really paid attention to it. Second bulb light burnt out, the man told the woman ” Honey, we should go get some lights for the table lamp!” but no one went. When the third bulb burnt out and they realized they can’t see anything anymore, they went and bought some! This is a small example of how sometimes taking action works. Same principle goes for changing different things in our lives, for example, a career change.
No one in this world can tell you what is best for you, more than yourself!
Now that we may know what the impediments of living a joyful happy peaceful life, can be, what can we do? I have to admit it was tempting for me to end this blog post by telling you what to do, give you some advice that would sound like this ” 5 ways to improve your happiness” or ” 10 things you can do to be happier” haha. Believe me there was a moment in my life when I searched the internet for this, read so many books about it in a hope that I find someone who will tell me what do I need to do, exactly! I could not tell you go love or laugh because first I know how hard is to give love when all you have inside is hate and anger ( I would suggest to find love there first) and second how can I tell you to laugh if I don’t know what makes you laugh. Now, I actually like that life doesn’t work that way, or at least it doesn’t for me. I get to do it my own way, I get to explore and find my own answers. Life will never be boring again! Yes, you can get some ideas and get inspired but at the end of the day, you need to come up with your own solutions! No one in this world can tell you what is best for you, more than yourself! Not your mom, dad, sister, brother, husband, friend, therapist or anyone else. Some things that did and still help me that I can share them here with you are being patient and kind to myself, stay connected to my deeper self as much as I can, communicate what I want from the people around me ( Don’t wait or expect them to read your mind and know your desires. They certainly can’t do that specially if you don’t know either ) , do something ( could be anything) that brings pleasure and not money ( could be for half an hour a day or less or more, as you wish) and trust my sparkle that who I am now is who I need to be and that’ s perfect in its own imperfection.
My happiness in photos with no filter no cutting no adding.
Pure, simple, joy
My awesome family
Papi and Ibi
I have friends that can fly haha
Noor, my love
Alush and Sara, my sisters and besties
Alush and Mom, at Vama Veche ( one of the beautiful Black Sea coast villages) on a ” just girls” trip
Enjoying what would look like a ” small, insignificant” moment but ” big” enough for me. Bruno, nature, coffee, almonds and drawing
I have monkeys in my family too haha
Bruno’s second birthday
My brother and fun buddy- Ibi
At the countryside having a great peaceful traditional lunch with my family