Regret 5 of 5: Clap your hands if you know what happiness is to you

I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.” – Someone

Wait, happiness is a choice? Then why isn’t everyone choosing to be happy?

Happiness can be linked to all the other regrets. If we are improving our lives then hopefully those improvements are contributing to our overall happiness. If you are being true to yourself, expressing your true feelings, and improving your relationships with others — your happiness levels ought to go up as well. If you are making the choice to improve the other aspects then you are making a choice to let yourself be happier. Thanks to Sam Harris, I’m leaning towards the possibility that we have free will is unlikely. But if you’re still reading this, you’re the kind of person that has some kind of interest in happiness. So please, continue reading and hopefully finding a path to a happier future for yourself.

There is a part of the opening quote that strikes me more than the rest. “They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits.” Habits are hard to break. 99% of the time, things are easier said than done. I can think of people that are stuck in patterns that does not show their full potential. People probably think that I have habits that are not so great, as well. Habits are easy. I am not against all habits. I would love to form habits to meditate, read, and write at specific times of the day. Unfortunately, things happen and Plan B’s must take place. It is important to challenge our habits. Try brushing your teeth with the hand your normally do not use. If you wake up and look at your phone each morning, put your phone across the room and make a point to do other things before you look at it. There are many ways to challenge many of the habits we have. If we can be mindful of which habits are more harmful than helpful, we can come up with a plan to change that habit, little by little. The more we change for the better, the happier we are allowing ourselves to become.

I believe the last line of the opening quote hints at how we lose our childish ways as we grow up, as we mature. Ask a kid to dance. Most start dancing. Ask an adult to dance. Most give an excuse not to. Or simply say no. We care so much what others may think of our dancing. If we went to the dance floor and didn’t meet expectations, it still wouldn’t matter. You’re not going to wake up to the daily newspaper front page saying, “GUY DANCED LAST NIGHT AT THE POODLE-DOODLE AND HE WAS TERRIBLE. IF YOU SEE THIS MAN, BOO HIM.” That is never going to happen. It’s not even funny enough to be fake news in The Onion.

dancing

So dance, finger-paint, do whatever your inner-child wants. I want to build a fort out of chairs, blankets, sheets, and whatever else I can find. Part of me thinks it would be a waste of time. But then I think, what would I do with that time anyways? Listen to a podcast that I’m not actually listening to? Read a book that I’ll only remember half of? On second thought I feel that making a fort may be the best thing I can do with my time. I can be creative, it will be nostalgic, and it will be fun. Maybe I will realize I have a talent for building forts. I may start an Instagram account for my forts. A Fortsagram or an Instafort.

I know what is going to make me really happy. Relationships. Once again in this series of regrets, I mention relationships again. They are so important. I’m going to be happy to have good conversation, make memories, and so much more with so many people. I’m fortunate to have Debora to share my experiences with. I’m lucky to have friends, both new and old, to share so many memories with. I am hoping to develop more great relationships in the future. Relationships that foster happiness and joy. Relationships with people who do not care if I’m not Michael Jackson on the dance floor. Relationships with people who do not care if I belt out Queen during karaoke — out of pitch, out of tune, out of key, out of many other musical-jargon-type words. Most importantly, relationships with people who do not care that I have a Fortsagram and sometimes come to their home and turn their living room into a fort.

fort

This is the end of my series on regrets. I am happy it’s over. I’m looking forward to posting some random things in the following weeks. I hope the series has helped you in some way. It is not groundbreaking but I believe it is important that we aim to develop our Human Capital and live fulfilling lives while doing so.

The title of this post was inspired by Pharrell Williams

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Regret 4 of 5: You’re My Best Friend

I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

I have talked to so many people, young and old, that have expressed that they wished they had kept in touch with old friends. I love talking to an old friend. It is nostalgic and leaves me with a smile on my face. What about you, Reader? Do you keep in touch with old friends or will you end up like Bonnie’s patients?

Life is fast-paced and getting more so each day. We know the culprits for losing touch: people move, get married, have kids, make new friends, move again, people take on new responsibilities, and more. With all of this, who has time to keep current relationships in order — much less spark up conversation with an old friend we haven’t talked to in years.

I lost touch with my elementary school friends by middle school, my middle school friends by high school, and it has been a continuous pattern for years. People change, that is for sure. But the relationships that suffer due to circumstances, those are the ones I want to urge you to fight to keep. A few months ago, I sat down and thought of a few people that I admired growing up. Peers that I used to be good friends with but we’ve grown apart due to various reasons. I thought of a few memories for each of them and sent them personalized messages on Facebook. The responses were great! I have a few people wanting to catch up when schedules work out.

keep-in-touch

It feels good to message people and see what they are up to and how they are now. I decided as a goal of mine, to message at least one person from my past a week. Rather they were a good friend 8 or 18 years ago. I haven’t even restricted it to good friends. I have messaged people from high school when I have a positive memory of them. I may come off strange, sending a random message of a memory to someone that knows we weren’t best friends, but I try to get the message across that I wanted to share a positive memory with them. Always closing out my message with the sentiment that I hope they are doing well. And I mean that, I hope everyone is doing well. The better everyone else on this planet is doing, the better I am doing.

We are all connected and impact each other. Relationships are the best part about life. My girlfriend and I recently finished traveling in South America for over a year. We saw great places and interesting things but when we think back on our time traveling, we think of all the great people we have met and developed relationships with. We think of the excellent conversations and time shared with a couple named Stan and Sharyl from Cuenca, Ecuador. We think about the people who picked us up for hitchhiking and invited us to have a coffee or lunch with them. We think of our host in Trujillo, Peru named Heiner. His infectious smile with a love for the mountains made him unforgettable. I’ve learned something from each person I’ve encountered. Everyone can learn something from someone else, no matter the age, IQ, etc. There is something to be given and something to be received in each relationship.

With all the technology my generation and all the ones that will follow, there is no reason we cannot keep in touch with people. And posting a status to everyone is not the kind of keeping in touch I mean. I mean a personal message to one person. Letting them know you were thinking about them and how you appreciated them enough to take the time to write a message to them. It may even end up meaning more to the person receiving your random message than it does to you.

In my experience, some may not even answer. That is fine. I know people are busy, I know some do not check messages, or maybe they do not know how to respond to a message I have sent. All fine. I still enjoy taking a trip down memory lane and sharing those memories with people who were actually there. This is a project I’ve been working hard on for a while. I say hard but it has been easy to think of nice memories and share them with people in my life. I’ve had a lot of fun with it and I really recommend you to message your old friends. Or message your old enemies. Maybe things have changed and your old enemy will be your new friend! Happy messaging!

The title of this post was inspired by You’re My Best Friend by Queen.

Debora Döhrbeck

Meet Debora:

Who is this girl? Why should you know her? What is special about her that she requires her own post?

I will do my best to answer these questions. 

Debora is from Switzerland. Famous for army knives, skiing, and cheese. Often confused with Sweden (known for IKEA, Vikings, and meatballs).

She does not speak Switzerish because that is not a language. She speaks Swiss German, German, French, English, and un poco Español. 

I met her August 11, 2015 at a music and art festival in Budapest. We had a few conversations and found we have many things we have in common: traveling, Couchsurfing, sustainability, minimalism, a passion for hummus, etc. 

The standout moment of the week for me was seeing her eating black beans out of a can for breakfast. It was love at fourth (or fifth) sight. 

Skipping ahead to now, she is my girlfriend. 

I often dislike labels; they tend to complicate things. With Debora, nothing has changed (for the worse). We continue to grow closer together and thrive as a team. 

How I feel about her is ineffable. Despite this contradicting effort where I will attempt to paint a picture in your mind of how much and why I adore her. 

Debora is caring. She cares about people, animals, the environment, and everything in between. She is as sustainable as possible. She’s vegan (A Swiss gal that doesn’t eat cheese?!) because eating plant-based is better for the environment. She does not like to fly in planes because of the fuel. She even gave me a metal straw because I used to use plastic straws. 

When she sees animals, she does this

She makes delicious food with cute, heart decorations

She makes stick-figure people out of grass and daisies

 

She’s a beautiful person on the outside and she is gorgeous on the inside.

The best part about our relationship is our communication. Our non-verbal communication is great. We also talk out the dynamics of our relationship. We have plenty of miscommunication but communication is still our strong point. We discuss little issues before they turn into big issues. We embrace talking about our faults which helps us work on any issues we have. 

She writes her own blog about traveling, minimalism, recipes, and a lot more. She’s more interesting than I can do justice. If you’re interested in knowing more about her or reading an interesting blog, hop over there for a moment. 

Home is wherever I’m with Debora. We are traveling through South America together right now and I could not ask for a better person to spend each day with while exploring this continent.

I love you, Debora Döhrbeck. I love when you know what I’m thinking. I love when you suddenly stop to play with each animal we encounter. Selfishly, I love when you massage my back. Thank you for sharing your mind and time with me. 

Happy birthday. I hope to spend many more with you and celebrate in traditional Swiss style, with Dominic Deville, the evil birthday clown 😘:


Hiking the Quilotoa Loop in Ecuador