Happiness? Fun? Joy? Why does it seem elusive to many and yet abundant to others?
Where is it? How do you find it? When will it come?
Well, friend, you were born with it and it’s absolutely who you are. Perhaps you may have stepped away from it for a little while or can’t find it as easily as before. But trust me, you just have to lean in the right direction and it will reappear as if by magic like being reacquainted with an old friend.
How to be happy? Why are some people blissful bunnies and others miserable muppets? Why can some people see the glass half full and filling up fast, and others see the glass half empty and running out frequently. Why do some people jive and thrive and others sail then fail? Are we given the same ‘life handbook’ in those early years?
The mind is actually like a Ferrari and a very powerful one at that. At times, it wants speed and at others, it wants parking in the garage for some rest. One thing that seems evident today is many people simply haven’t had either the necessary driving lessons or the user manual to navigate it in the first place.
In terms of happiness, I grew up not just with driving lessons but drove my Ferrari like a pro. I’d acquired a skillset to always be chasing fun and catching it and chasing fun and catching it. I’d mastered childhood like an A-Class Harvard graduate freshly out of class and eager to take on the world. Amusingly, the more I was challenged to conform to any rules, the more I rebelled but excelled. Unapologetically, it felt thrilling. I inherently knew I was free. Free to have FUN, free to be me, and free to live as I choose.
Fast forward to 2005, I felt fun was running on low. In my mind, I’d tried it all. Been there, done that, read the book kind of thinking. What I mean is I’d done millions of walks, eaten in a million restaurants, seen a million unsatisfied faces around me (and I was one of them), and done a million office life commutes. Every day was robotic. The Ferrari was driving itself. Boredom had set in and wasn’t about to let go. I had not one, not two but four flat tires and I’d been driving around without knowing I was on a path to nowhere. As time passed, I knew something had to change. Since the environment couldn’t inspire me, I had to find a new environment.
And so, solo traveling began, and my chance to be, metaphorically speaking, in a top-of-the-range Ferrari. A brand new sparkling heap of precious metal with a new luxury interior and a brand new engine. A new me, and a new smile. I’d reconnected with my old self (and an upgraded version at that) and it felt exciting.
So where am I going with how to be happy?
Fun can be found in a million places if you’re open to finding it. Just writing the word FUN on a post-it note and sticking it to a laptop has incredible effects.
In solo travel, you have the world literally at your feet with the chance to be in the Ferrari of your choosing. At times, you want the classic beauty that just wants a little TLC from time to time to ensure it runs well. Then a boost of adventure beckons and out comes the big guns, the Ferrari V12 that wants to go fast and feel the adrenalin. And then you just want to park the Ferrari for a little while, let its engine chill, and go grab a quiet glass of wine on a cute terrace.
I’ve always found happiness easily when I am traveling alone and this brings me to a fun-fest all of its own – observing people from a cafe terrace. Sitting on a sun trap terrace soaking up the sunshine while solo traveling gives such perspective. You feel appreciation at how lucky you are to be there in the first place and secondly, you feel that long sigh of relief because time has paused and you’re in no rush to do anything but cozy up for the fun that’s about to unfold.
From your vantage point of the cute cafe terrace, you switch into virtual Netflix mode and choose the first of the afternoon’s happy movies – and check out who is starring today as you sip your espresso and munch the almonds delicately from the top of the freshly baked croissant. There is so much comedy to be seen when you just slow down and observe discreetly.
To the right, you see a couple, the ‘young, happy, and in love’ type. You can tell they’ve not been together that long, no arguments, no sad faces, just one set of shiny eyes looking into the other with the audience deemed invisible.
Moving along, in a discreet corner of the terrace, you see the ‘sweet old man type’, he’s local and comes daily for his entertainment, some coffee, and newspaper which he gets free from the café. His face is one of calm, peaceful, and just enjoying the flow. He’s content. I gravitate towards these types because of their incredible life stories.
And for curiosity, and to mix things up a little, you flick viewing to ‘married for years’ type and see they’re not chatting much, if at all. This type is simply happy with no words. AND THAT IS OK. They just want to know there is someone by their side but don’t need a full hourly chit-chat update for satisfaction.
And then, there are solo travelers. A WHOLE NEW BREED, Netflix’s secret weapon. I’m a little ‘Mr. Bean’ with a pinch of Bridget Jones giving some Oscar-winning comedy performances along my cafe trails lol. I thrive on it. Solo travelers intentionally choose to travel alone for the adventure that far-flung destinations can bring and that includes cute cafe terrace life. I quietly observe like a baby meerkat perking up for a quick inspection.
How to be happy? The point of this is there’s a lot to be had when you just look around in observation mode. Traveling alone is exhilarating.
Fun is waking up deciding what cute outfit you’re going to wear to turn a few heads. Fun is going to a café for a croissant, café au lait and some ‘parlez’ing in a new language. Fun is sitting people watching from behind your Dior sunglasses as you ogle the Italian hottie who is keen to sit beside you. Fun is being flirted by the waiter as he smiles and gazes as you walk away. Fun is wandering aimlessly around the cute shops and finding little hidden gems. Fun is salivating over the idea of lunch and what you plan to have that day. Fun is having gelato beside a fountain listening to the water drops sing to your ears. And fun is dancing until 6 am to then walk home with panda eyes as the world begins again in rush hour mode. lol.
Fun is our DNA. It isn’t something we have to work at, we should be that way 24/7 and if you’re not, ask some questions. Fun can be something simple like dancing around the lounge to the dulcet tones of Motown. Or an old Audrey Hepburn movie. And even sampling a new bottle of wine from the lower shelves of the supermarket (I love this one) to see if you’ve found a Chateau Margaux-esque copy! Most unlikely but always possible. And that’s the fun. The anticipation and surprise. Those small moments are actually what we do most in life and make a huge difference to mood. We are meant to be like KIDS, with no limits, no self-imposed rules, no seriousness, just KIDS who play.
And as the terrace sunshine makes way for the winter, you can always head indoors! A whole new Netflix series awaits, at least until the next solo travel adventure.
In the meantime, click on imagination below in this video (make circles with your hands around the eyes and just imagine you are in this cute cafe). You see how easy it is to feel happy!
How lovely is the rain?!
So, how to be happy? The happiness that comes from traveling alone cannot be put into words. Just give it a go. Once tried, you’ll never be the same again. And neither will terrace life hahaha. That my friend is living wanderfully.
If you’re are asking how do I start traveling alone and experience the benefits myself, and want to know how to plan your very first solo travel adventure, please click here on my new Solo Travel Masterclass to find out more. This solo travel course is one-of-a-kind and a lifetime of knowledge and wisdom in one easy-to-follow course.
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