Very Little

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When you tell someone you’re going to go live in another country on approximately 700 Euros a month, they might secretly (or not so secretly) think you’re a little insane. I don’t blame them – who in their right mind would decide to give up security and stability for their polar opposites? Me, that’s who. And likely you, too, if you’re reading this.

If you’re anything like me, the rat race is not appealing in and of itself but for what it can provide in the future: a home, a car, clothes, insurance, retirement plans, and respect. Sure, traveling can earn you respect from certain people, but often only if you’re abnormally successful at it, writing travel guides or living in relative luxury. I doubt living on 700 Euros a month qualifies. Thus, I’m crazy. You’re crazy too.

As Marcus Aurelius said, “Remember this: that very little is needed to make a happy life.” What, then, do I need, do you need to make a happy life? Do you really need the newest model of that car, an immaculately landscaped yard, and 2.5 kids in the suburbs? Do you need to live in a nicely furnished apartment, own a washer and dryer, eat only organic food? Do you really need to have a certain job in order for others to see you as their definition of successful? Or is life, after all, simpler than that?

In my mind, there remains no doubt – it’s infinitely simpler.

Life is about many things, and none of them arise often in discussion of traditional success. Life, at its best, should be about choosing your own adventure and living it, even if it means enduring the scorn of others. If you dream of living in a closet in NYC, eating ramen, but doing what you love, that is your adventure, and you should see it through.

I once dreamed of living in Spain, thinking that would be a grand adventure, make my pulse race, allow me to live the dream. I became disillusioned when it didn’t exactly do that, when there were more downs than ups, and rain than sunshine.Now I see that I was mistaken, thinking that just being in Spain had the power to make me happy for an unlimited amount of time. Since coming home, I have realized that it wasn’t Spain that made me unhappy – it was me.

I did it to myself. I hoped for too much and did too little. I enclosed myself in a room and didn’t come out. I refused to speak, thinking that others would judge me as bad at Spanish or silly. I wasn’t myself – the loving, fun, kind, and sometimes funny person I know I can be. My boyfriend supported me through all this, a process I know must have been trying at times. (But he did it; he’s just that kind of guy.)

Understanding that I have the power to be happy in a situation is the more invigorating, liberating feeling I’ve had in a long time. A situation does not have to be perfect. Hell, it won’t ever be perfect. It’s time I stopped anticipating the future instead of embracing the present. It’s time for me to accept that whether Mario and I end up in Spain, or the U.S., or some other random country, it’ll all be okay because I choose happiness. I don’t think I’ll be happy everyday (and certainly not before I’ve had my coffee – caffeine addict right here),

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but I think I can stop feeling sorry for myself and create the type of environment I want to be in. I’m over being passive and waiting for someone else to do it for me.

I started this entry with a quote by Marcus Aurelius about how very little can make us very happy (my own interpretation). I’d like to end with something I saw on Pinterest the other day. It struck me as quite relevant to what I’m trying to do right now – swim out to my ship, the ship I waited and waited for, the ship that I could have reached had I just jumped in instead of sitting at the dock.

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9 comments

  1. This is one of my favorite posts that you’ve done! Seriously the hardest but most rewarding thing is to choose every day that you’ll be happy. And of course some days you forget or you just don’t feel like it but as long as you choose happiness most of the days life is good. Miss you!

  2. A lovely post. Living in Spain the first time dramatically changed my attitude towards what I thought I needed. Instead of fixating on concrete achievements like a big house and a prestigious job, I began to realize that it’s really your daily experience of the world that really determines how you feel. However, that happiness is so fragile because it’s so easy to slip into negative thoughts that perpetuate themselves by producing negative behaviors.
    A yoga teacher I once had gave the advice to greet the “highest version” of every person you meet and the “highest version” of yourself everyday. And I really love that idea, that every day really does have a “highest version” and all the potential in the world if you are prepared to see it.
    Good luck embracing happiness!

  3. Wow, what an awesome post… The part that resonates with me the most is this:

    “I did it to myself. I hoped for too much and did too little. I enclosed myself in a room and didn’t come out. I refused to speak, thinking that others would judge me as bad at Spanish or silly. I wasn’t myself – the loving, fun, kind, and sometimes funny person I know I can be.”

    Oh how I get that. And you’re right — we choose to be happy, we choose to be present in a moment, it is up to US. :) What a great lesson!

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