Signs of Happiness: A week on the road

Over the past week I have covered some serious ground, Happies. Travelling from KL, Malaysia to where I am right now, nestled in a locally run apartment on the Croatian island of Hvar.

It’s nearly beer o’clock my time, a ritual my man and I have discovered over the past week and appear to be loving almost as much as siesta o’clock, which as an Australian is completely foreign, but extraordinarily good, to me.

But before we set off for another afternoon of down time, I thought I should share some of the small, happiness-inducing moments we’ve had on our trip so far…

1. Lot 10 Food Court, KL, Malaysia

Lot 10 is a hub for food-lovers, filled with expert street vendors who have perfected their art and congregated into this one eatery. You can get everything from dumplings, to duck to pork here, but it was one meal in particular that truly stole my tastebuds… POPIAH!

Pronounced Bo-Bee-A, this crepe-like delight is a commonly found street snack in Malaysia, and other parts of Asia. Filled with chilli sauce, french beans, lettuce and other tasty morsels, this one little snack changed my life forever. Truly sensational, Happies.

2. Mammas at the market, Split, Croatia

As a foodie, there’s something about discovering a local food market that sends me into a spin. Especially here in Europe where the fresh produce is plentiful and the old ladies sell their wares with such lustre, no matter what their age.

3. Learning to slow down, and embrace the island life

I’m not going to lie, it has taken some serious re-adjustment to not want to check my emails every 30 seconds, but now that I have let go, there’s nothing more freeing in the world. Walking around the island of Brac, here in Croatia, I have learned that slow, calm, family-orientated island life allows for a far more fulfilled existence. And a longer life-span, too.

4. The view from the top

After a steep walk up to the fortress in Hvar, this was the view we were confronted by. Such beauty is hard to find, but when you do discover it, your happiness scale goes into overdrive. A must-see for everyone, I think.

Tell me Happies…

What have you seen/tried/tasted over the past week that has made you smile?

Have you been to Hvar, Brac, or KL?

Do you want to go?

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Losing your shit on holidays is much easier than I’d ever imagined

It’s easy to practice the art of patience and equilibrium when you’re not really in a hurry to be anywhere. Flight delays, traffic jams, monsoonal showers…sure, I’ll take them all as long as the general gist of our trip isn’t too interrupted.

Or so I thought.

You see, Happies, I am now discovering that your patience metre is tested more on holidays, than in any other life situation. Things that would normally take you 2 minutes, somehow clock up to 30 minutes when you’re away from home. Add language barriers in there and you have yourself one seriously fail-proof recipe for losing your shit.

In the last two days we have encountered the following:

1. A micro-sleeping taxi driver

2. Monsoonal rain storms

3. Over 30 hours of travel and transit time

4. Sitting in an airport for 10 hours due to a flight delay of 5 hours

Clearly, this is more than your average Friday in Sydney would throw at you. But I’m not complaining. Not for one single second. In fact, if the truth be told, I’m grateful for having my usually casual and hard-to-shake temper tested in these new and exciting ways. It’s invigorating! Educational! And a little bit annoying, too.

Since becoming aware that you can, in fact, choose to live in a more balanced, harmonious state, my reaction to certain situations has most definitely changed. In the past, I would have been agitated, pissed off and placing blame on everyone else around me for causing such an inconvenience. Now, things are slightly different. I may feel that rise of blood pressure pumping through my veins, but the second I become aware of it, I remind myself that stressing, or blaming, or getting mad really won’t change the outcome.

So, next time you’re stuck in traffic, ready to get your boxing gloves on and get all road rage-y, remember that sure, it is a massive inconvenience, but getting mad, placing blame and losing your shit isn’t really going to change anything. Unless, of course, your taxi driver is falling asleep at the wheel. In which case a slap across the cheeks is a matter of life or death (OK. And maybe a little bit of anger thrown in there for fun.)

Tell me Happies…

Do you find that travelling tests your patience, too?

Are you quick to lose your shit?

Or, do you have the art of equilibrium under control? If so, share your tips here.

Far more than bricks and mortar

The clear differences between the East and West are no more apparent than when on holiday in Asia, Happies. Their way of life here is so different to ours, you could almost call it opposing. Everything from housing, to praying, to eating, to working, to sleeping has thought and merit behind it, and rarely are things done without purpose.

Case in point: Traditional Malaysian houses, in which I had the pleasure of learning about yesterday at the Malaysian Cultural Centre. You see, Happies, houses here aren’t simply a matter of calling in an architect to build your dream home, instead, they vary depending on region, environment, and even religious beliefs.

It was the houses of Sabah that stood out to me the most. The simplest of the lot, these ramshackle bamboo huts were a motley selection of bamboo stuck together and made into something that slightly resembles that of a house.

Here they are…

However, like most things here in Asia, there’s far more to these nondescript huts than meets the eye, with the people of Sabah looking to omens, dreams, the orientation of the sun, and fresh supplies of water to decide on the location, and the layout of their ‘palatial abodes’.

You see, to the people of Sabah, the home is regarded as a microcosm of the world of spirits and universe. A place for them to live in harmony with nature, life, afterlife and everything else they believe in. So, while to the untrained eye this may seem like a simple little bamboo hut, it is, in fact, filled with more thought and appreciation than that of a Point Piper mansion.

Which brings me (finally) to my point, Happies. We live in a culture where success and status come from material possessions like expensive cars and fancy houses, but how much thought, consideration and meaning lies behind these shallow possessions? For the people of Sabah, and much of the Eastern world, happiness and success comes from appreciating your surroundings, and living at one with nature and the universe. Are we on the path to happiness? Or are our less materialistic friends in the East laughing at our every purchase? You make the call.

Tell me Happies…

Do you think we focus too much of the physical?
What do you think of the traditional houses of Sabah?
Do you think the Eastern way of living is different to ours?

And the true journey of life begins…NOW!

It’s extraordinary how much your life can change in a few days, Happies. On Friday, I was bounding around the office, checking my emails every 2 minutes, and worrying about the stresses of everyday life. Right now, I’m sitting in a delightful hotel room in KL, Malaysia, on my first official day of International Happiness Seeker; Global Traveller; New York Editor of PRIMPED.com.au. No stresses, no emails that urgently need to be replied to, no office.

I’ve spent many hours writing about beating your fears, embracing your passions and following your dreams here on The Happiness Cocktail. And all of them have stemmed from the point I am standing in right now. It’s hard to imagine that for the next nine months I will have complete freedom to travel the globe and embrace my true passions, and I’m finding the adjustment period a little strange, if the truth be told.

But, there’s definitely something to be said about powering up your positive affirmations and truly working towards your goals – if you want them to happen badly enough, they most definitely will, Happies. That, I can assure you.

To honour that (and prove my point), I am dedicating the next nine months of my life to searching out what happiness truly means. Both to me, and to people all over the globe. From the street hawkers in KL, to the island inhabitants of Croatia, to Italians, Greeks, Turkish and finally, Americans – I want to know what makes them smile, laugh, love and live for. And I can’t wait to share that with you, Happies.

Tell me…

Have you been to KL?

What is your favourite international destination?

What makes you happy?

Follow your dreams, not the dollar signs

I have great admiration for those kids who know exactly what they want to be when they grow up. I was never like that. In fact, I hardly even knew what I wanted for lunch that day; let alone what I wanted to be ‘when I was old’.

For me, each day was a new opportunity to float along, keeping an open mind to fresh opportunities and knowing that one day, the penny will drop and my true passion will ignite inside me like an explosion of wonderfulness.

I think I’m still waiting for that day, Happies, but I do know that I’m definitely on the right path and love what I do. Which, incidentally, appears to be almost as rare as finding those children in the playground who not only know what they want for lunch, but who have already planned their UAI score, degree, and career path all by the age of thirteen.

Finding happiness in what you do is a crucial part in finding happiness in life. We spend, on average, 8.5 hours a day in the office, equating to 42.5 hours a week, 170 hours a month, 2,040 hours a year, adding up to 81, 600 hours in your lifetime, assuming you work for 40 years.

Clearly, when you break the numbers down, that’s a long time to be doing something you hate. Or, for a more realistic term, despise. The number of friends, and even family members I have who are unhappy in their career, far outweighs those who love what they do.

It’s so easy to see how this happens, Happies. Especially for people like me, who never really knew what they wanted to do. When faced with the prospects at the terribly young age of sixteen or seventeen, it’s hard to know what will make you happy, and much easier to follow the bright, neon signs that scream ‘Follow the money. Follow the money.’

And here’s where I think I have been saved. It recently occurred to me, when having a chat to my sister, that I have never made a career decision based on money. Sure, the odd pay-rise when going from job to job was a bonus, but when considering my career path in those formative years, I never once looked at following those signs. Gosh, I was so ignorant I didn’t even see them flashing my way.

Instead, I made decisions based on what my instinct was telling me to do. It’s that simple, really. So often, we make small, seemingly reversible decisions based on money, or popular opinion, or parental pressure, only to look back down the path five years later and think, “how on earth did I get here? This is so far from where I want to be I may as well be on Mars.” All that detouring occurs for one simple reason, Happies – you didn’t trust in your instinct, or have clear directions of where you wanted to go.

When I quizzed people who truly loved what they did, the majority never followed the dollar signs. That said, they are now by far the most successful people I know, both financially, and in spirit, purely because they bounce out of bed each morning sharing their passion with the rest of the world.

Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of detours, and while I’m on the right track now, it’s been a long journey with a very, very long way to go. But there’s something to be said about making decisions based on what YOU want to do, figuring out your dreams, writing that road map to find them, and knowing that every decision you make from here on in is taking you somewhere awesome. While those neon signs may falsely flash at the beginning of your journey, know that if you follow your dreams and invest in your passion, your wealth will encompass far more than a bulging bank balance and a crappy corner office. After all, you can’t put a price on true happiness. Or, can you?

Tell me Happies…
Have you always known your correct path?
Do you make decisions on money, or passion?
Have you ever made a decision based on money and realised it doesn’t bring you happiness?