Going further, going longer and experiencing more.
My brain is oversaturated but cannot stop thinking. Thoughts from adventures of different years are running around in my head and get mixed up. Impressions from places I have seen appear and increase my excitement for new adventures to come.
I feel I need to move because I have lost the curiosity I had about the place where I live. Suddenly the interest in discovering new areas in my hometown is gone. I feel that I just try to fool myself by telling myself that this is new. How does it happen that some people never lose the curiosity of one place? Is it because they see the place every day differently such that they experience it every day as a new place? Have they maybe found the real happiness there? What is actually happiness?
If I try to think about one of my happiest moments in life, one situation pops up in my mind, which might not seem very special for someone who has not experienced it but which led to this inner feeling of peace and appreciation in me at that same time. Interestingly I still get the same feeling when I think of it now.
It was one day during my fieldwork. I think it was the first day we drove off-road to a rural area in Mozambique. I was sitting in the back of the car. Two others were sitting in the front driving me to one of my research areas. One assisted me as a driver and the other one as a translator. They knew each other and were close friends. We passed by some rural villages on the way home, the sun was setting down and we had a long day of driving and conducting interviews behind us. I just looked out of the window fascinated by the landscape with the sun setting down, the extraordinary light making the place appear full of beauty. Then I turned around and looked at my colleagues. There was only the sound of the local Mozambican music playing in the radio, no one was talking and everyone seemed to have drifted away in his/her own thoughts. This moment with my fellows in the dusty car, who I just had met shortly before this trip and who offered me to assist me during my research was very special for me. The fact that we did not know each other from before (we had a common friend in the South of Mozambique who arranged our meeting in the first place) and that we spent two of the most exciting weeks of my life together, driving from one rural area to another, this moment in the car was just the beginning of it. It was in this moment when I realized how amazing humanity can be and how simple happiness can be.
So coming back to our question what actually is happiness. I think there is no universal understanding of happiness. However, we all seem to search for it. So how can we seek for happiness if we don’t really know what it entails? Some of us seek it in helping others, some in relationships, some in their work and others maybe in travelling.
There are two things I have learned in life about happiness so far and hopefully more are to come over the years. The first thing is that we have to keep in mind that happiness is not a stable stage over time. Happiness can appear from one moment to another and in the same way it can be gone in the next second. However, the fluctuating character of happiness is not a bad thing. I mean if we were happy all the time how could we still enjoy happiness? Isn’t it that we often learn how to value something when it is gone?
The second thing I have learned is that it does not matter where we find happiness but the important point is that we should not forget what makes us really happy and that this is an enormous accomplishment. There are a lot of people out there who are looking all their life for real happiness without finding it. Some of them think that certain things make them happy because it is what society tells you is happiness. I cannot tell you what the key to happiness is because there is no generic key but I can tell you that if you have found your happiness cherish it, never forget it, try to be honest with yourself and don’t fight to preserve it. Even if your understanding of happiness does not conform to the general way of living it is important that we stay honest with ourselves because we are in charge of our happiness and no one else and we cannot make others responsible for our happiness. However, what we can do is to share “our” happiness with them.
Thus, I believe that if we have figured out what makes us happy and we have found someone with the same understanding of happiness then we truly have reached the full level of happiness – like my two silent companions in a car on a dusty road in Mozambique.
This is an article by my friend Pia Otte – she requested me to post this on the blog so it can reside on the internet. :)