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!

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! 🙂

It was right here all along

Have you ever had one of those moments when you want something, know you have it somewhere, just saw it the other day, but now that you need it, you can’t find it? It’s just not there?  I’m having one of those moments now.  It makes me wonder, if suddenly it is going to pop up out of the blue when I least expect it?  That is usually what happens to me. Days later, “Poof! Here it is! It was right before me all along, but it was hidden by something.”
Now I wonder why it is not there when I first wanted it to be.  Why can’t life be a little simpler?

Maybe it’s because we have to learn to really “see” things from another perspective before what we are looking for comes to us. Before we realize it was there all along.

Sometimes, oftentimes, people spend their lives looking for love, happiness and peace.  They want a happier life, a more fulfilling life.  Some will go through extremes, move countries, build a business empire, maybe even climb mountains, get rich and have all the money in the world in search of happiness. In search of reaching the ‘solution’ that would save them.

Many work so hard they forget to look at the people besides them.  Their families, their relatives, their loved ones, or even their children. Many children are growing up with nannies and daycare centers rather than with their family.  That is modern day life.

Then one day, after all those years of searching, working, trying to find the ultimate ‘solution’ that would make them happy, they find that what they had been looking for was right there besides them. Maybe just there inside of them.   Why didn’t they see this earlier?

For me:

Happiness is internal.

Happiness is appreciating  and being grateful for those around you.

Happiness is being able to do the things you love.

Happiness is being able to smile after just having an ice cream or chocolate. Happiness is living life the way you want to.

Happiness is not expecting. Happiness is being happy when others are happy.

It’s like when the food critic in the animation “Ratatouille” has his favorite ratatouille dish and he is reminded of childhood days. His eyes gleam and he is transported back to happy days.

It’s like when you look out the window to see leaves on a tree rustle in the wind and grass sway.  You can feel nature and its wonders.

It’s like when you are just sitting on a couch watching TV with your family and happy they are all alive and well. It’s like getting excited when you first get a message or call from your crush.

It’s like remembering how it felt to have your first bite of divine chocolate.
If you can look at everything around you with an open mind, like that of a child who is happy at just getting a new pencil or a piece chocolate, then I think we would all be happier human beings.

Have no expectations.

If you can look at what you have around you.  Be grateful for what you have, be happy with what is given, then you will find that life becomes a lot more pleasant.

Didn’t you ever notice that many times the poor street sweeper smiles more often than the rich businessman?  Life’s really a lot about what’s ‘inside’ not ‘outside.’

Yes, search nearby, inside and out before you go searching far and wide.  Maybe what you were just looking for, was right there all along.  It was just hidden from view behind that layer or dust.

Baby, Baby, Come Home

Sometimes your inner voice tells you not to do something, but you do it anyway.  Then later you end up thinking to yourself “Damn, why didn’t I listen to my inner voice?”  This happened to me exactly this past Monday. Here’s a funny story.

This past weekend, Alex and I have been discussing when best it would be to bring my Baby back home.  Yes, my little White Baby Jazz (if you are wondering, it’s my car :))  has been in safekeeping for roughly a month now away from the flood, away from the water that could cause it to choke, suffocate and eventually die.  It has only just reached it’s second birthday.  Too young to die.

Monitoring water levels, canal drainage, potential flooding estimates, we decided that by this week, I should be able to take my Baby out for a spin. It should be safe enough as the chance of her drowning in water seems quite minimal.  She’s restless and needs to get out of her little rectangle high up on the 7th floor.  I’m restless and need a spin around town.  We decide, Wednesday is a good day.

Yes, we will take Baby Jazz out on Wednesday. A few more days and the situation should be clearer

Comes Monday, all seems well and we have a change of heart.  Monday, Monday, will be the day Baby Jazz comes out for a spin!  I’m happy.  Things are becoming more normal and I can go for spins around town!

I was happy, yet deep inside of me I wondered if it was too soon.  Some things were still not too clear.  Was I rushing things too fast?  I pushed those thoughts aside.  What was there to worry about? It will not flood.  I was being overly cautious.  I was overreacting.

I decide to take her out of safekeeping and bring her safely down to flat land.  Once home, she sat happily under the clear cloudless sky enjoying the fresh air and the space around her. Birds flying overhead chirping her welcome.  It was a lovely evening the day Baby came back home.

Things seemed normal until I reached the end of the news.   The presented asked Professor Seri why certain zones were being declared evacuation zones.   What? What zones? They sounded familiar and close by?  The professor said we had to check facts on what was happening at the canal. Bangsue canal.  Yes, the one by my house.

I got on Twitter, FB and checked the news. Only three hours after Baby arrived home, the roads less than a kilometer away from me were being declared evacuation zones.  I wondered what happened to the protocol of having to be declared a “monitoring zone” before evacuation status?  Nevermind, the canal must have overflown.  The pumps must have broken down.  Maybe the water was flowing faster than expected.

My Baby had to go back to safety fast!  I got out of bed once more, dressed and in the midst of the night took Baby back to somewhere I’d know she’d be safe.

I knew this would happen! I knew it was too fast too soon to bring out baby.  My inner voice tells me again.  Why didn’t I listen to it? I didn’t want to.

Upon having completed the task of taking her back to safekeeping and arriving home.  I discover the Evacuation notice has been cancelled.   What??  Data Error.    No Comment.

No matter what, I decide to listen to the original listen voice and wait for Wednesday. Good middle Wednesday.

On  Wednesday I let myself listen to my inner voice.  Yes, it’s okay now to bring out Baby on Wednesday as initially planned. So tonight I brought Baby home.  Let’s hope it’s for keeps this time. 🙂

So listen to your inner voice.  Listen to your hunch.  It may be just what you need to save you some trouble. Or if you want some excitement in your life, just ignore it. 🙂 Who knows what excitement it will bring?  So I had fun driving around.  Better safe than sorry!