To be or not to be happy. Is the question that simple?
People often wonder what it takes to be happy or joyful in life. Perhaps a person or a place will give you the euphoria in life we equate with happiness. But it is simpler than that and infinitely more accessible and does not depend on other people or outer circumstance.
A few days ago an acquaintance on Facebook said, “I wonder at how happy you both look in Greece – is that kind of happiness even possible in Toronto?” I rushed to tell her, unequivocally YES! The real estate of happiness is in the heart – not on an island in Greece any more than in the heart of a city or the centre of an ashram. I claimed my right to happiness before I left Toronto and it was my heart, which somewhat unexpectedly brought me to Greece. It is within you now – just crowded out by what you imagine is more important. To find lasting happiness, you simply have to choose to let go of all that prevents it.
My heart knew I meant to be happy when I was willing to give up anything that prevented me from the personal freedom that is the foundation of true and lasting happiness. Does this mean I made sacrifices? Yes, but not without the return of a lighter heart and surer footing on my own path to the fulfillment of all that I might be. I couldn’t wait any longer to grow up.
I gave up relationships for the sake of convention, eschewing those that were poisoning or weakening. I gave up my beloved dogs and found homes when I realized that they would be better cared for by others as I lived with uncertainty until I found my right place in the world. I gave up a ‘secure’ home in familiar territory to reinvent myself in a place where I do not know the language. I let my persona break away and was willing to stand in vulnerability and trust that self-love would find me and take me home.
I, like everyone on the planet, including gurus, am a work in progress. I do not live in banal inactivity taking pictures of sunsets and wildflowers. I am at work here. We are financially motivated, not independently wealthy. We know it is disposable income that truly sets us free, not necessarily millions which pursuit can crimp freedom.
I am using all my years of business acumen along with weekly or monthly upgrades through online courses and webinars to develop our new product Aristoleo™ test kit and bring it to market. I am continually marketing my book, “Exhilarated Life: Happiness Ever After” with the intent to raise it up in sales rank from 1.8 million on Amazon. Oh hum.
I am working on several children’s books beginning with my book “Yesterday at Justin’s” in which a child asks about divorce. It has inspired a series on ‘awkward topics’, encouraged by my editor Bryony Sutherland, mother of three. On my list is to record both “Exhilarated Life” and “Justin” for audiobooks.
I write every day, simply because to be happy I must write.
Each of us has that ‘must do’ that fulfills a heart’s longing for self-expression. By a quirk of serendipity I write for Huffington Post – in Greek – no less. My following gathers momentum, even while my conversational Greek is limited to ask for red wine in a restaurant or tell Athan I love him.
I share every mother’s concern for the wellbeing of her children as I watch my now grown sons set off into their talents and expertise made manifest in the greater world. My desire for their success and future loves and families is bathed in the simple wish for their health and happiness – wherever and however they achieve that. I witness their challenges and struggles with as much objectivity as I can and know that these are what make success so sweet and precious and happiness assured.
It is impossible to live in Greece at this time and not become politically concerned. I can no longer enjoy the complacency of living in a powerful and safe country. I have cast my lot in a country beleaguered by internal corruption and external austerity measures that wreak havoc on the economy. Capital controls affect our new business just like everyone else here trying to gain their financial footing.
Refugees make me mindful that while war was always ‘somewhere else’ the truth is what we do to one we do to all. These are not ‘terrorist breeders’; these are middle class families whose whole world got blown to smithereens for a political agenda that puts power before humanity. If the eye of those global powers shifts, who is next in its scope? Who is safe if we do not proclaim safety for all life? And in that dire statement, do we choose to live in fear? Absolutely not. We become humble in our interconnectedness and more deeply resolved to preserve personal freedom.
Life here is rich and deep and challenging and thrilling because we live from the heart, the source of true happiness.
We are not happy because there are gorgeous sunsets here. We stop and watch the sunsets because we are happy and our happiness is reflected in all that is lovely on this earth. Here on Aegina Island, there, where you are right now and even in Toronto.
Note to self: