Some life lessons about real happiness…

New Years Eve. I don’t really have big plans. No big parties, no wild night out on the town. But I’m happy about that. I am enjoying this little bit of time to reflect on the important things in life, on the ups and downs of the past year, to think about how I want to think and act and meet life in the coming year.

Also, I want to thank the people who have responded to my New Years inspiration request. I really appreciate what you’ve written, and already I feel the goodness soaking in a bit. I am taking all your words to heart. And I still hope to hear from more of you. I don’t mind when. Anytime you have a couple of free minutes, I hope you’ll send a bit of your wisdom my way. I’d love it.

Anyway, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what it takes to be truly happy in life. I think there is a lot of wisdom floating around in the world about this topic, and lots of people to tell you their opinion on the subject, but I feel like, at the end of the day, everyone has to discover the answer for themselves through experience for it to really sink in properly.

For the past few months, I’ve definitely been receiving an education in simplifying. It hasn’t been easy. I have become very used to a great many comforts in life. Coming to Istanbul, changing jobs, having less disposable income, having some different goals for the future, etc, have all forced me to come to terms with a number of my bad habits and not-very-helpful ways of looking at life. I think over the years I have definitely used material things to fill in gaps in my life, to make me happy or to distract me from unpleasant feelings and experiences. With all the emotional upheaval of the last few months, I’ve actually had to deal with myself, instead of just buying things to make me feel happy for a little while.

I’m also learning, again, that people are tougher and more resilient than they often realize. Change and challenge aren’t always fun, but when you go experience these things you see your own strength and your ability to make it through the difficulties. I think the ingredients of real happiness are already inside of us, we often just overlook them. We think all the outside conditions have to be just right or we can’t be happy. We wait around for our job to improve, for the weather to get nicer, for other people to make us happy, instead of looking at the strength and wisdom we already have and seeing that we have the ability to deal with whatever life sends our way.

I guess that’s what journeys of all kinds are all about. You have to step out of the world that you know, even out of self that you think you know, into a whole new big strange world. The situation causes a sort of friction, and your way of seeing yourself and everything else must be readjusted to fit all the newness you are taking in. These different and often difficult situations sort of draw out the ‘poisons’ in us. Its an opportunity to have your weaknesses revealed, which is something that few of us enjoy, I imagine. But you can’t change if you don’t know what your flaws are, and this overcoming of our own weaknesses is our chance to grow. I love this idea, although I can’t remember where exactly I read it, but basically, our craziness and our wisdom are two sides of the same coin. If we never stop to take a look at our crazy side or our weaknesses, we’ll never be able to experience our own wisdom. Comforting words in challenging times.

To sum up my thoughts a bit, I think we already have all the ingredients of true happiness inside us. We have more than enough in our life to be really happy. The life we were lucky enough to be born into, with all its problems and joys, is full of all the life lessons we need to learn to be free and happy and full of kindness and love.

So, happy living to you all and a happy new year!


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