Happiness is a funny thing. In Western culture, the pursuit of happiness is a phenomenon. We spend forever chasing the idea of it without perhaps knowing what we’re chasing. The concept of happiness usually means “feeling good”, a fleeting notion driven by instant gratification. It’s normal to splurge on a pair of beautiful shoes or treat ourselves to a decadent dessert because it makes us feel good in the moment But seeking happiness through short-term gratification leads to a cycle of constantly needing to top up the high we get from things, food or experiences. It becomes a vicious cycle. But here’s the tea; consumerism isn’t the key to being happy, despite what the media tells us.
A few years ago I explained the West’s pursuit of happiness to my motorbike guide, Quy, while I was biking across central Vietnam. We had just reached the top of Hai Van Pass, a magnificent mountain road of hairpin bends which looks across the South China Sea. We sat at the top, taking in the breathtaking views and drinking a super sweet Vietnamese coffee. Quy started asking me about what job I did; he assumed I had an incredible job because I was able to travel. He thought I had a big house and was super happy.
I explained that life in the West is constantly chasing the next thing, whether it’s a job, flat, car, handbag or anything else the media dictates that we must have. Our happiness is connected to things. Quy was so surprised and said that the Buddhist view of happiness is totally different. Every morning, he wakes up and is thankful that he has two eyes that see, a nose that smells, two ears that hear and a mouth that speaks and can taste. He grew up in a tiny village which didn’t have electricity till the 1990s and he’s had a tough life yet he is full of gratitude and joy. He taught me a lot about Vietnam, Buddhism and above all, being thankful and grateful every day.
I’m not very religious but I enjoyed learning about Buddhism and a lot of what he taught me aligns with how I see the world spiritually. I’m a strong believer in energy and what you put out into the universe coming back to you. This is why his words about being grateful are so important. Practicing the art of gratitude works in so many ways; it forces you to a positive state of mind by reminding you of how many blessings you’ve already received and opening your eyes to the abundance in your life rather than focusing on what you don’t have.
I started thinking about the things my lovely friend Quy taught me recently. In a previous outfit post, I shared that my mum was having major surgery and would be spending a month in the hospital. I’m happy to report that she is now home and getting a little bit stronger every day. Quy’s outlook really helped to keep me positive over the last few weeks, I focused on being thankful to the doctors and nurses who helped my mum on her road to recovery as well as being totally in awe of her strength and determination.
Focusing on being positive has made a huge difference to my outlook this month and now that my mum’s health is stabilising, I feel even more empowered to be happy and positive. It’s not easy by any means; you don’t just wake up feeling happy by accident. The trick is to work at it every day and be conscious of your happiness. It’s like a muscle that you need to exercise, every time you do it gets stronger.
It’s sometimes easy for negative thoughts to creep into my head but I’m getting better at nipping them in the bud and replacing them with happy thoughts. Being happy really is a choice and now that I’m actively trying, I see the good energy I’m putting out there come back to me. It really is a beautiful thing.
I wanted to share my favourite little ways to stay positive and put good energy out into the universe:
1. Wake up and take 30 seconds to think about what you’re grateful for before getting out of bed.
2. Smile at strangers, they’ll always smile back!
3. Slow down and be conscious of your surroundings, look for the beauty.
4. Compliments, both in person and online! I spend so much of my time on Twitter complimenting people and it really makes people’s day.
5. Pick up the phone and call someone instead of just texting. I’m so guilty of this as I’m always multi tasking but nothing beats a phone call.
6. Before you go to bed, think of all the things you’re thankful for and set a positive intention for the next day.
7. Don’t be afraid to let go of people or situations which no longer serve you or help you grow.
Dress – Topshop
Sneakers – SWEAR
Photography by Adorn Girl.