“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” — George Santayana
Personally, I love the change of seasons. The spring is so happy and colourful, I love sunbathing and wearing dresses in the summer, the fall is absolutely beautiful and in the winter I can look so elegant with boots and scarves or cute with earmuffs.
However, this quote is much deeper than just seasons. I think the idea here is that you will be much happier if you embrace changes and find a way to enjoy them than if you hold on to a temporary state as if it’s permanent and the only way you feel happy.
Changes are natural and they are part of life. The seasons are a perfect example of this. You can’t expect to live in the summer forever so you need to find pleasure in all seasons. Maybe you don’t like the elegant clothes in the winter but you can still enjoy staying in and drinking a hot chocolate while snugging your blanket.
I have to admit it’s easy for me to say because I’ve always been fond of changes. I love those days before travelling when I walk down a street and think “I won’t be walking down here for a while”. But I think even if you’re not a lover of changes like me, you can still try to accept it and see the positive side of it.
Changes make us grow and make life more meaningful. We always remember those days when something unexpected happened. It becomes a memory and even if it’s a bad one, it still brings meaning to life and makes it more interesting.
“People universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you’re fortunate enough. But that’s not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.” – Eat Pray Love
I really love this quote because it explains the whole point that led me to research about happiness and consequently the reason why I have this blog. I think you need to fight for happiness and not just wait for it to fall into your lap. Sometimes that means you have to make changes. They might be big changes: quitting your job, getting a divorce, moving to another country , travelling the world. Or small changes: sleeping well, waking up earlier, taking up a course, going out more. But sometimes that fight for happiness doesn’t necessarily mean you have to actively do something. Sometimes the effort you have to make is to actually practise acceptance. Instead of fighting against your present situation, you have to accept it and make peace with it in order to find happiness.
I don’t think it’s a choice in the sense that you can just decide “I’m happy now” and you automatically become happy but I think it’s a choice to go after it.
I have been striving for happiness, reading about it, trying different things, making changes. And you might ask me: is it helping? Absolutely! I did go through a rough patch even though I was looking for happiness. I felt like giving up but I didn’t and now I’m finally reaping the rewards of my efforts. I believe that this is the meaning of the quote. You need to try hard to find happiness even if it’s not something you do consciously. Most people don’t wake up one day and think “I’m going on a search for happiness.” However, happy people have decided at some point in their lives consciously or unconsciously to go after what they want, to practise acceptance, to find contentment, etc. I believe it’s more difficult for some people than it is for others. That can happen for various reasons. Maybe your brain, your family or your circumstances don’t help but it is there for you to find. We can all get it if we try hard enough.
I used to feel down about every little thing that didn’t work out. I would get stressed and upset and sometimes even panic. Then I started to look back and I realized that some little things that upset me earlier in my life ended up being for the best. You never know what the future will bring and sometimes you can get more if things don’t go as expected.
“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” – Dalai Lama
I have been trying to keep this in mind all the time and I don’t feel as stressed as I used to. Here are two examples of bad things that ended up being good:
1. Not getting a room
When I was in Cardiff, I had to find a place to stay and I decided to take this room. I sent an email to the guy but he didn’t see it and gave the room to someone else. I got really stressed at the time but it ended up being for the best. I decided to move from Cardiff and got a job as a teacher in Oxford which was what I wanted. If I had stayed in Cardiff, I’d probably still be working at a nightclub since there are not many teaching jobs there.
2. Being kicked out
Fate works in funny ways. My friend had to leave her house and had nowhere to go so she ended up going home to her grandpa’s house. She spent a few weeks with him before getting a job and finding another place. About one month after my friend left, her grandpa got really ill and after some time in hospital, he passed away. If my friend hadn’t been kicked out, she wouldn’t have spent those last few weeks with her grandpa. That time they spent together meant everything to her.
Now when I don’t get the job or the room or when I’m forced to move out or when something is cancelled, I always think: it might be for the best.
“You are part of this universe. You’re a constituent – you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and to let your feelings be known. So put your opinion out there. Make your case. Believe me – it will at least be taken into consideration.” – Iva, Eat Pray Love
The meaning of this quote is that you are allowed to ask the universe for good things. It’s not selfish. You’re part of the universe so you have the right to be happy. You have the right to get what you want.
This idea made me think about something else that was stopping me from being happy.
You shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling happy or being lucky. There was a moment in my life when I couldn’t see the good things I had. I looked at everyone else I knew and thought they were so lucky in some aspects of their lives. But everyone is lucky for some reason. I was lucky too but I couldn’t take advantage of it. I felt guilty, I thought it wasn’t fair that this thing was handed to me. I should get it on my own, with my own efforts. What I failed to notice at the time is that the situation was exactly the same for me and for these other people. Those people I knew were lucky for other reasons but they were not fighting it, they were accepting and taking advantage of it. Why couldn’t I do the same? Why did I feel that it was okay for them to do it but not for me?
If something is handed to you by the universe, accept it. You deserve it as much as anyone else.
“If you can’t control it, let it go.”
That’s my favourite zen saying.
Letting go of control is a challenge. It requires a lot of practice. The truth is that life is unstable and it’s impossible to control what’s going to happen. Sometimes we have the false impression that we are in control but the truth is we are not. Life is unpredictable and anything can happen anytime, good or bad.
We can’t control other people and we can’t control the outcome of situations so we have to stop trying or we will only get frustrated and disappointed.
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature…Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller
If we accept the way things are, we can find peace.
That doesn’t mean we should settle for less in life. If there’s something you can do to change a bad situation or make things better, do it. If there’s nothing you can do at the moment, let go.