How to steal little happy moments in life

Posted: July 12, 2013 by jennroig in Chronicles, English
Tags: , ,

Andrew Pochter

I’ve just finished reading Andrew Pochter’s letter published today by the Washington Post. Andrew was 21, he was a college student visiting Alexandria in Egypt back in June. I use the past tense because Andrew died on June 28, stabbed to death during an anti-government protest in Alexandria. He sent a letter to someone called Justin, someone he might have held dear, where he wrote a few advices about how to live enjoying life.

It’s ironic. How come could a 21 year old manage to get so wise so soon about how to best live life? In the letter he says “go on hikes in forest, canyons and mountains, go fishing, research wildlife and get out of city life if you can. Surround yourself with good friends who care about your future. Fall in love with someone. Get your heard broken. And then move on and fall in love again. Breathe life everyday like it is your first. Find something that you love to do and never stop doing that unless you find something else you love more.”

“Don’t blame others for your mistakes. It makes you weak. (…) Speak with conviction and believe in yourself because your personal confidence is just as important as your education.”

I feel so sorry about Andrew’s death. I’m ten years older now than Andrew will ever be. I can see that at 21 he was able to see things that it took me more time to realize. Still, I resent his early death, because I know that some words in his letter could only belong to someone so young, who had still so much to learn. I regret that I will never have the chance to meet a 31 year-old Andrew.

There’s something that comes to mind while reading his advices. The way we visualize whatever we think can make us happy relates to the places we have been, and the experiences we have gone through. You can only know that hiking in mountains and canyons makes you happy if you have already done it.

I don’t believe in happiness as a “forever-happy” concept. I don’t think any list can actually become a formula of “how to live your life better”. But I do believe we all have some personal arsenal of places, activities and people with the potential of making us happy, at least for a while.

I think that’s why I want to suggest a few things, out of my personal list, that could help our quest for happy moments. I promise these are simple stuff, you won’t be able to try it all out at once, because I will do my best to include things that you can get no matter where you are, how much money do you have, or whether you are with someone or alone.

DrinkingNuts2_M1. Coconut water. Not from a can or a bottle, but from the actual coconut. If you haven’t tasted it, include it now on your bucket list. I can’t explain it, it just have powers. And you are thirsty and sweaty and in a sandy beach, it’s simply magic.

snowangels2. The angel in the snow. After a snowfall, go outside, lay down, move your arms and legs and then stand. You’ll see the angel that protects and it’s always with you. (People that have always live in cold countries and are familiar with the snow will find this corny, but believe me the feeling is amazing when you come from the tropics and live this for the first time).

Sea-Shell-Rounded3. Priceless Christmass (For students abroad): Convince some of your closest friends about celebrating christmass with gifts that can’t be bought on stores. No money spent. You must use your imagination, be creative, you have to get closer to your friends to learn what is it that could make them feel happy and can’t be get with money. You’ll be amazed. Sometimes people can be happy with so little, a shell that reminds her the sea, a cartoon looking like him, another foreign coin or stamp for a collection.

Swiss-Alps-Sunset-1280x7204. Sunsets: Sit for a while to see the sun going down. I think these kinds of moments have strong healing powers no matter where in the world you are. There are some special spots, of course. I can remember very vividly a sunset I saw from the top of a mountain in the Alps, the white glowing snow was suddenly taking a golden tone because of the fading sun light. There’s also another special place, the roof of the dinner at my filming school, in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba.

4. Teach something to someone younger. It can be a child, or a teenager, family or not, try to figure out something he doesn’t know and could be interested in learning about. It will be easier than you expect. It can be the location of a country they haven’t heard about, you can introduce the Seinfeld series or the first trilogy of Star Wars, or an old tune, or a YouTube video. It’s great to see the excitement in their faces and you feel awesome.

longevity-milk5. Condensed milk with chocolat. You can get condensed pretty much everyplace in the world (oddly enough I wasn’t able to find it in Germany, go figure), and chocolat is ubiquitous. The mixed is a guarateed boost, or a sure remedy to whatever sadness or depression you’d go through. (Red flag: it can be highly addictive)

photo-pyramid-of-the-sun-teotihuacan-34317-xl6. If you ever have the chance, don’t miss climbing the Teotihuacan’s pyramids in Mexico. I don’t know whether other pyramids in the world will have the same effect, but climbing the Pyramid of the Sun was a unique experience in the sense that you can’t actually explain yourself how did you manage to reach the top. I guess there’s some old Aztec mistique involved.

7. Yes, please, go hiking. I’m not kidding, there are some places better equipped than others to go hiking, in the sense you may find more beautiful landscapes or streets with no risks to pedestrians, but in general, there’s a spot in everyplace that makes it worthy. Find it and use it. Walking is great for your body, but it also help you mind to let lose for a while, to relax.

8. Sure, don’t blame others for your mistakes. But not because it makes you weak, that could be a reason, but I personally find it liberating when I take responsibility of my wrongdoing. I don’t need to lie to anyone, and mostly I don’t need to lie to myself. People who trully love you will take you the way you are, even if you screw it up every once in a while. Saying sorry also helps to move over. I’ve seen it.

9. Try not to put yourself in a position where you have to do something you definitely don’t want to do, for someone else’s satisfaction. It works also the other way around: try to put yourself in a position where you can do something you like to do, and you’re making someone else’s happy as a bonus.

10.  Sex. I tried to avoid it, because I don’t want to go “commonplace” with it, but denying it is insane. As Woody Allen admits, meaningless is not the best way to go, but still a great way. I’m paraphrasing. In general, I tend to think/feel sex is great. Good sex is awesome. And sex with love is absolutely mind blowing. For some of us it is though a rare commodity. Tt’s all worthwhile if you manage to conquer that holly grail, but don’t think less of you if you haven’t found yet that significant other but still know how to enjoy your body.

  1. Tamara says:

    I will totally adopt the priceless Christmas gift as a rule from now on (even though I’m not an student.) Christmas time in north America can be maddening you know?

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