“Be happy in this moment. This moment is your life. Omar Khayyam
After reading books like; The Secret, The Happiness Project, Eat Pray Love, Deepak Chopra The Book of Secrets, The Power of Now, The Alchemist, Dr. Phil’s Life Strategies; I started a happy thought journal on Oprah’s suggestion, exercised each day, slept 8 hour per night, and ate right. if I couldn’t change my life I decided to change my mind, started to live in the now and made many more changes over the last 10 years trying to find my own personal self made happiness.
Now that that’s all done, I want to throw in my two cents.
For me happiness and change go hand in hand.
It might be the adventure of learning something new; mastering a new task, or meeting a constant stream of other adventures like us. However, for me change feels good. It can even be exciting!
Pursuing happiness for over a decade, my yearly list changes. Of course it does! Some of my past lists have included; learn how to create a website, run the kid’s school PAC, fundraise for the kid’s Montessori program for the non-profit society, lose weight, cook organic foods from scratch, create an amazing circle of girlfriends (which I have everywhere I go and is always a priority), learn how to grow a bio-intensive organic vegetable garden, learn to love something small in the people that rub me the wrong way and to always be forgiving.
Finding your own Happiness List, and recognizing what makes you happy is the first step. Afterall, we are all so different. Someone’s personal journey will be completely different from another’s. For instance, a life based on Time Currency may be replaced by a life based on money. It really depends on who you are, where you are in your life and what makes you happy. Some goals are long term and others are short term, but the bottom line is that everyone’s list is setting them up to pursue what makes their life more enjoyable.
Our life based on Time Currency really is the means to the same end, our own personalized version of happiness.
This year our happiness was to focus on an overall family plan, one that required a complete overhaul of our lives. Not everyone will sell everything to move across the world, but some people may have to make bold leaps and take chances to get out of their rut to start living their life’s dream. If you can dream a life for yourself, then you can make it a reality. I believe in the power of believing; that means that what we dream for ourselves, how we envision our lives can certainly become a reality.
To fulfill this life change, we are buying a home in South France with rental units to draw an income from, and live off of until we find something more. Plus our Budapest rental apartment should generate enough funds to make this plan stick. This allows us the time we want to spend together with the kids before they are too old to want to anymore.
The opportunity for Daniel and Angelina to learn through exposure to different cultures and languages, and to travel to countries to experience new food and traditions; is one we can not miss.
Here is my current personal list.
Pursuit of Happiness List
- Live a Life Based On Time Currency
- Make Time For Writing
- Make Time For Reading
- Cook At All Costs
- Give Generously
- Never Miss An Opportunity To Compliment
- Take Care of My Husband
1. Live a Life Based on Time Currency
This is obvious. I have a whole website dedicated to our family finding our life based on time currency. The importance of this towards my happiness, in theory, is that my husband and I would spend more time together with the kids within close vicinity to home, or better yet working from home to make us readily available to the children in case they need us for anything.
Money is grand, yes we all enjoy spending it but in reality how much fun can we have buying things, especially when we don’t really need them? Maybe a year, or two? Alfonz and I never bought into this way of thinking. I always bought the evening dress the day before an event because I didn’t have another in the closet. Necessity was the only reason to buy, it was never our addiction or a source of entertainment.
And how much money does a person really need in the bank? I figure we can live on a lot less money but cutting back on the material things we simply don’t use or need, (like the Starbucks coffees, the designer shoes, the crap that piles up in the garage) and learn to enjoy things like each other’s company, sharing the basics in life like playing games together, talking about our day, and to travel and explore as a family. Learning from experience instead of books is our goal, but also trimming the fat from our American life is another.
2. Make Time for Writing
I write about 1000-2000 words on average per day. I started at the ripe age of 12 when I used journal writing as a tool to cope with and understand the world I was living in. Once I wrote down a problem it would seem far easier to manage. There was nothing I couldn’t handle, no matter how bad things got.
Today I write merely for pleasure. I enjoy writing stories to completely escape into. I love creating characters with rich interesting lives, I add a pinch of conflict, and by the end they have it solved. So much fun!
I equally enjoy our family adventure blog, but differently. With travel writing I am able to come in and out of my writing and not lose myself for a month or so in a story. At times I could not wait to get home to visit my characters. They felt so real to me. Once settled into our place in France I hope to write stories again, but until then, I will be content with blogging while on the open road.
3. Make Time for Reading
The more you read the better you write. I read as much as I can. A perfect day would start with morning journally then a few hours reading on a beach watching the kids play. We would take intervals to swim, scoot on our scooters with them and eat sandwiches and ice cream. We would go home to a pot of soup I put on before we left, and I would finish the day snuggled in bed with the tail end of the same book. Can it get better than that?
I try to read a book a week, but sometimes it is impossible. Lately I read blog posts from fellow bloggers, news feeds, and magazine articles. Books are a luxury these days, but something I hope to get back to soon!
4. Cook at all Costs
I love to go to the market, see what is fresh, and buy the items one by one for my meal. I go home, and for hours I play in the kitchen, completely escaping into my own head, and whip up something for the family to enjoy. I am truly free while I cook, feel no pain, have no problems and sometimes I wonder how the dinner got there! I completely immerse myself in the culinary arts. I prefer to get the gist of a dish and wing it rather than cook from a recipe. I cook whenever the chance arises and make time for it. It is a passion. One I deliciously savour!
5. Give Generously
It doesn’t matter what you do in this lifetime, if you do it wholeheartedly. If it is your time, your praise, your love, give it generously and especially your attention. This goes along the same lines as living in the now, always give 100% of you to this exact moment.
6. Never Miss an Opportunity to Compliment
Have you ever had your hair done, you feel like a million bucks, and bump into 50 people that day and no one says a thing? I have a beautiful friend, and she has never received a compliment from a fellow women! What? Are we that insecure that we cannot compliment one another? Never miss an opportunity to give someone a genuine compliment. In return, they feel good, they smile and you feel good. Get over your jealousy, make the effort to notice details, and congratulate your coworkers on their successes, praise the guy that returns too much change and above all if someone looks better than normal, tell them so! It works for me.
We walk as a family everyday, no matter what. If the weather doesn’t permit it we play Wii or go to the mall for a stroll. I love walking, almost as much as going to the gym, but when travelling it is a tough one to fit in, especially when it is a luxury we can’t afford. Walking is free, we get to explore, take different routes and side streets, and see who we can meet along the way. It makes my back happy too! I read somewhere that all great thoughts occur when you walk. Probably not accurate, but I like it anyway.
I love yoga. Did it for years, but don’t have the money or the time to continue at a studio. At night before I go to bed, I spend a 1/2-hour stretching. I try to fit it into my mornings too. I focus on my back which was injured from work, slowly stretching out the muscles so they don’t feel so tight. Mean while I meditate, escaping into my own thoughts. Sometimes I figure out our travel plans in my head, or decide what is for dinner? It is a great way to give myself a little time to collect my thoughts, be grateful for all we have and get set for the day ahead.
Since my back injury, it hasn’t been easy. Play for me means on the floor, physically playing with the kids which when they were little was the activity they preferred. It is hard when you can’t get back up but I try to do the things I can and love to do; the things that make me feel the happiest. Like memory games, singing songs, dancing, or Wii. Being a mother doesn’t mean you have to craft with glue and sparkles on the floor, or make cookies. My Step sister Nicole loves that stuff, but it is not for me. I like kicking the ball around in an open field, riding bikes or swimming. Can’t playing be a fun form of exercise? It is to me.
10. Take Care of Husband
I know, many people ask, why isn’t take care of the kids on my list. I happen to believe that if you take care of your husband, offering him a soft place to fall each night, feed him healthy meals that keep him feeling good, then even after the kids grow up and out of the house, you still have an intact healthy relationship with the man that so graciously gave you the life you always wanted; my life as a mother. I watch many men get tasked or nagged to death by their partners or their needs put on the back burner. By taking care of your hubby, you take good care of yourself too! I guess it is easy when you have a husband like mine. I am very lucky. He’s a great day, loves us, is a family man, a great provider and big supporter. Pure LOVE.
Why not give your kids the example of the healthiest, happiest relationship you can conjure up. Then when they grow up, they will expect nothing less in their own relationships. Wouldn’t that be better than putting your kids ahead of your husband?
I hope you liked my Pursuing Happiness List and that perhaps it will inspire you to make your own. Happiness is not a place to go or get to, but something you must always strive for. Maybe happiness is a side effect of an active life.