To Love or Not Love the Rain

It’s been a long time since I last wrote and what better time than to write on a lovely cool morning after the rain has stopped. How I love the rain varies from time to time.

Most times I love the rain when it’s just light rain or drizzles. I love it for the greenery and freshness that comes with it when it stops. Lawns become so green and life beckons. Birds chirps and splash around in the puddles that form along the driveway. Snails and slugs appear along with other types of insects moving about slowly in their slow way of life. Toads hop around in my garden and give me a surprise everytime one unexpectedly moves in a dark corner. My dogs equally like it (I think) as they lie happily on the porch with the cool breeze that passes through.  I practice my guitar, and life is just wonderful.  I feel calm and settled.  I feel home like when I grew up in cloudy, rainy Brussels.

Other times, I feel less tolerent of the rain especially when it’s pouring down hard coupled with thunder and lighting.  The heavens roar and you wonder if Thor was having a fight up there.  On Earth, the grass grows at exponential speeds and if the rain is follwed by the sun, ticks and fleas re-emerge.  Roads get flooded and commute to and from work takes a couple hours.  The light reflecting on the road makes it harder to drive and accidents happen.  You see news of people’s houses with roofs broken and neighbors with water pumps working to drain water from their houses. 

In the end, do I love or not love the rain?   It depends on how much rain there is. I love it when there’s just enough of it to cool the skies and make pitter pattering sounds on the window pane. I don’t particularly love it when it’s accompanying by thunderstorms and lighting and comes in such large quantities that it floods. 

I suppose this is much like human emotions. Sometimes you like something but if you have too much of it, you might not like it so much anymore. For example, I love choux cream but I wouldn’t be able to have it everyday.  Emotions, like the rain, has ups and downs.  It all depends. What do you think?

Wishing everyone a wonderful Sunday ahead.  Have some ‘me’ time. 

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To be or not be: happy

When I read the news or turn on the TV I don’t really want to know all the details of beheadings, attacks and killings.  I can’t get away from it though. It’s everywhere, it’s sad and I pray for all affected. No one should have to experience such horrific events.  Yet they do because there are unhappy people everywhere.  What makes people happy or unhappy?  Alex and I discussed this recently in one of our many discussions.  Countless books have been written on this topic and gurus abound, but here is our take on how to be happy.

1 Acknowledge and accept that one cannot be happy 100% of the time, but believe that you can have more happiness than unhappiness. Like anything in life, accept the truth and move on.  It’s impossible to be happy all the time.  There will be times when you are sad, angry or feel blue.  These emotions will pass.  How fast they pass by depends on you.  This is a fact of life. When you acknowledge this and are no longer fixated on being happy all the time, you will have less stress.

2 Search for the true cause of the problem that is making you unhappy.  For each ‘unhappiness’ that you want to fix, you need to be able to find the true root cause of it.  If you don’t find the root cause, it will be like cutting weed without taking out the root.  The weed will come back. It may expand underground and resurface in different areas, but it will be back.

For example, most people, myself included, have some form of insecurity. As the german psychoanalyst Eric Fromm (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Fromm) said, “The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.” We must find the cause of our insecurity and face it.  Insecurity can take many forms. A lot of people hide their insecurities through accumulation of material goods.  If they have so and so , x and x with this much value, people will ‘love’ or look up to them.  They don’t think they can be liked without their possessions.   Sometimes the insecurities come in the form of defensiveness.  I bet we’ve all experienced this where the other side just cannot accept any form of constructive criticism.  They feel insecure and threatened.

3 Really believe you can fix it.  It is in your power to fix it. The important thing is to ‘believe’ and make a plan.  A lot of people make the mistake of believing that problems can be fixed right away and result in immediate happiness, but more often than not results take time. A lot of time.

For example, a lot of people complain about work. They are unhappy and complain day after day, wishing that things were better, but do nothing to fix the problem.  Years go by and the unhappiness intensifies. What do you do to fix the problem? You could start by taking small steps to make it better.  See if you can improve the situation. Can you make the environment or do something to make it better?  Little by little the situation can and will be improved.  Be patient. The responsibility is in your hands.

What do you think makes one happy or not?

Be human

Sometimes things happen when you least expect it.  Life brings along its paths many experiences and opportunities yet it is your decision whether to grab the opportunity, make something of it and live the experience, or just simply go with the flow.  If you spend your days pondering the consequences of your possible actions and do nothing, debating the pros and the cons, then the one thing you can be sure is this:  nothing will get done.  Life will go on as it does and pass by.  To be happy, as in many other things, depend on your own actions.

This morning I listened to a youtube video on Happiness 101 by Harvard Professor Tal Ben-Shahar.  I loved it.

Many of the things he said are things I’ve been pondering about in life as I am sure have many people.   What is it that makes one happy?  Is it money? Is it wealth? The answer isn’t.

Happiness depends mainly on your own actions. To be happy, requires participation and devotion.  You are responsible for your own happiness. No one else is.

Remind yourself of how blessed you are.  Remind yourself of the things that you are grateful for in life.  Think positive.  Exercise.  Take time to be with your family and the people you love.  Allow yourself to be human.  No one is perfect.

Sleep.

Simple isn’t it? Easier said than done.  Good night my dear readers. Be happy.

The Heart Melter

There’s something about coming home to dogs that are just great for the heart. No matter how tiring or crazy a day you’ve had, when the dogs run towards to you as if they hadn’t seen you in years, wagging their tails, and innocently staring up at you with the sweetest eyes;  a part of you melt.  It softens you and your heart goes all gooey.

It reminds one of nature and of life.

It reminds us to take time out from all the gadgets, TVs and technologies that surround us.   It reminds us to enjoy the nature that surrounds us, to feel the grass beneath our feet, feel the wind in our hair and hear the birds chirp.

Yes having dogs remind you of all that.  They do because you have to really stop and notice them, take care of them.  You also have to play with them so that they use up excess energy.  Excess energy they would otherwise turn into biting your trees, and digging up your flowerbeds.  So you end up on grass throwing balls and playing “Fetch.”  You end up gardening to fix those plants the dog dug up or finding ways to keep them from digging.  Then as you are doing all that, the dogs are running around playing, occasionally bumping into you as if they were six year olds.  You can’t help but smile.  They seem so happy just running around on the grass, like when once a upon a time we too used to run around.  That must have been over twenty years go.

To be happy doesn’t mean you need to have all the excesses of this world.  It’s purely a state of mind.

Dogs are happy with the simplest snack or a little scratch behind the ear.  Maybe we should train our minds to be happy just as easily.  Life would indeed be a happy one.  Yes, dogs are indeed good for the heart (even though your house and garden gets occasionally turned upside down.)  Have a good weekend!

Building house

These past few months Alex and I have been working on building our house. It’s hectic but at the same time rewarding. You get to see your ideas and imaginations on paper take form and completed. There is progress there are clear methods of measurement. It feels good to see it finished but that is not all, building a house has taught me some valuable lessons.

First of all, things don’t always turn out as expected or planned. That beautiful tile you wanted for the bathroom might be out of stock and the floods have affected the production of bathtubs.

Yes, it was interesting to see how devastating our floods were. If I wanted that bathtub I would have to wait a long while which would delay the project.

Secondly, perfection is good but learn to let go of minor things in favor of the bigger picture.

In search of perfection we want every little detail to be perfect. Sometimes down to the minute detail. ( I like to be detailed) Move the cupboard to the left by so and so inches…. Make sure that the curtain rails are at so and so height.

But then when you don’t have time to go oversee everything and timing is important you just have to see the positive side of things.

It’s not perfect but it’s still wonderful and good. So if it’s an inch off, it’s okay. Don’t stress over that inch.

Lastly, learn to laugh, have fun and just see the positive side of errors. My painter mistakenly switched the colours in two rooms. However, upon looking at his work, I realized it actually looked better the way he had painted it. The rooms looked cozier and the colours fit better with the surrounding rooms.

So we embraced this mistake and are now very happy with the colours on the walls.

Building a house has made me more patient, more decisive and taught me how to see the positive side of things. It’s not perfect but don’t forget to enjoy the experience and have fun. Afterall, we aren’t putting our house in any architectural competition. Make it a happy one and that’s all that matters ! :):)

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What’s your Cheese?

The other day I read an interesting book called “I Moved Your Cheese.”  It’s a book that follows on the famous “Who Moved My Cheese?”  and I find it interesting for it tells a story of three mice in a maze that challenged the maze in which they lived.  It’s fascinating.   The story is simple and you could finish the book in one night, yet it makes one think.  It is a reflection of what life should be.

The three mice in the story were not like the other mice for they thought outside the box.  They questioned the fact that “cheese” was indeed important for everyone and if they should in fact pursue this “cheese” just because everyone else is pursuing it.   Follow the cheese and find it.  Adapt so that one can consume this cheese.

To put things short, the story basically teaches us to do some self reflection.  Think about what this “cheese” is for us.  To some, it may mean getting that limited edition bag, to others it could mean going on a trip, or for some it could just mean sitting at home on the couch with a good book with the person they love.  Discover what it is in life that makes you happy and pursue that. 🙂

Follow your own dreams not other people’s dreams. (or other people’s dreams for us) 🙂

A little corner of happiness

Sometimes, happiness can be found in the littlest places. You do not need much space to be happy as a friend of my discovered this past two months during the recent flooding in Bangkok. Happiness is something that for different people comes from a number of reasons. Even though this flooding was disastrous it actually brought a little happiness to some people.

Now, let me give you some background. My friend is usually is a lady who is extremely house-proud and will spend most of her waking energy looking after the house, cleaning and putting things in order. Yes, everything is top notch shining, bright and everything is set in its proper place. Not an inch too far to the right or to the left. She enjoys it and enjoys having a house that is always beautiful to look at. No trash left lying around. No shoes or books left where they shouldn’t be.

Then the flood came. Everything had to be moved to the second floor. Everything that was movable that is.

Everything was stacked on top of each other (in an orderly way of course) and the second floor ended up looking like it was a furniture warehouse. There was hardly any space to walk around nor move. Only the sofa provided some seating. The ground floor, on the other hand, looked like it was a newly constructed house with nothing but a few plastic chairs and a table left below. Even the curtains were removed.

Yet up there on the second floor, my friend found a little corner of happiness. Sitting on her sofa amidst the towering stacks of furniture and decorations, my friend sat there smiling. Smiling because she was happy. Smiling because the whole family was home and smiling because she did not have to spend the day doing any house work. No putting things in order, no rearranging the furniture or the decorations, and no grocery shopping. (Being without car and supermarkets were mostly out of stock.)

It was indeed a happy time for my house-proud friend.

She got to rest and relax. In a tiny little corner of the furniture warehouse, she sat there resting, reading, watching television and feeling not in the least guilty that she had to be responsible for looking after the house. Having no obligations, she was happy. Now that all is over, my friend is back to being the person she was before the flood, running around and getting exhausted.

Happiness can indeed be found in the strangest places. Where are you happy ? Do you know what makes you happy? If you do, why don’t you recreate the happiness more often? Happy Holidays! 🙂