Before I Fall – What Would You Do On Your Last Day?

Now on Netflix, the movie Before I Fall features Sam a mean girl that is about to live the last day of her life over and over again until she makes a difference. The plot might not be the most original one, but it does bring up a question in all of us, what would we do knowing that today is our last day, to make a difference?

I’ve always wanted to do more, to make myself present and make a difference, yet sometimes I try to reach high and fail to see the small things that can be impacted. Can I make a difference in a normal yet boring day? Can I really change someone’s destiny? Or can I maybe change my own in just 24 hours? My answer is yes, how can this be possible can only be found out by each and every one of us.

Designed to look for the great moments, for the amazing experiences we fail to acknowledge the ones that really matter, and yes, those are the regular ones, the routine, the time we think we lose by doing nothing spectacular. We live for the future, worried about the past and completely ignoring the reality that is the present. Forever waiting to receive the Oscar, forgetting that getting and holding it is nothing without the regular and boring day preceding the celebration, the one where you simply get out of bed and got to work. The simple moment when you buy a cup of coffee, the cup is too full and you sip from it and taste the coffee. The moment you put on your seat-belt and turn on the music, the crossroad where you let the one stuck on the side road to pass in front of you because you have nowhere to rush and that person says thanks to you.

It’s often said that we have to lose something to truly appreciated, the ones that don’t understand that meaning are the luckiest people on Earth, it means that they’ve never lost someone they love. It is to the regular and ordinary moments that you turn to, it’s to the desire to be yesterday’s one more and for you to relive one lost normality. It’s the moment when you know nothing will ever be the same again that hurts the most, and here I am not talking about graduating high-school or college and just moving forward, although those might hurt as well.

If I were to make an exercise and think about today and what would I do different if it would truly be my last day, well it would be simple, I would have smiled more, I would have petted my animals a little bit more, got up a little bit earlier to drink my coffee with my loved one, I would have picked up my phone to call my grandpa, I would have had a little bit more patience with a mum and her kid when crossing the road that cost me my car’s paint since I hit the curve. I would have been nicer to everyone around me, look at their faces while walking or daydreaming a little bit more before opening the laptop, I would have not spent any time on Facebook and I would have not been judging anyone for their mistakes.

Some would say that if today would be your last day they would quit the job and get on a plane, well guess what, I wouldn’t, I think the difference would be small if I were to spend my last day alone, or just trying to get somewhere it’s impossible to get in 24 hours, running a lost marathon. I would do what I do on a regular, boring day, just a little bit more slowly and with more attention to details so that I can remember it.

Yet if you are reading this, just as I am writing it, means this isn’t your last day, you don’t have to worry about spending your last 24 hours and even if you didn’t get the chance to do everything perfectly you have another shot tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and so on. We don’t have to change anything about the day, we just have to live it. How we will do it, is completely up to us, the difference stands in our hands, whether we decide to act upon it or not. But one thing must be kept in mind when that last day will come, and none of us will escape it, we will not have that opportunity to relive it.

P.S. Watch that movie if you haven’t already, is exactly what the present you needs, food for the sole. Even the grumpy ones will love it!

 

 

10 Things That Make Me Happy

Leaving aside traveling, there are a couple of smaller things that will instantly put a smile on my face even in the darkest times. Here is my list of happiness bringers:

  • Spring and warm weather

I am very influenced by the weather and the most difficult time of the year is winter, that is why I am so happy that Spring has finally arrived and with it the warm weather, nothing makes me happier than ditching the winter clothes for the lighter ones.

  • Sunny days

Cannot help but loving the sunny days when the blue is so intense that it hurts your eyes. If you combine this with a sea view then the smile is guaranteed.

  • Swimming in the sea

For many, this might not be a very pleasant experience because of the salty water and the effects it has on the hair and skin, but for me swimming in the sea is one of the best things. The smell of the salty water and the cold feeling that you get when entering the sea, are just what I am enjoying most.

  • Horseback riding

One of the sports that I practiced as a kid, horseback riding will always hold a very important place in my heart. From the moment you get in the saddle to the moment you get off, all my problems vanished. There is no way of better enjoying the present moment than when you are practicing the noble sport.

  • Shopping

Shallow? Yes! Pleasant? Also yes! Even if nowadays I am trying to cut back on the shopping, I am still enjoying the moments when I go for a shopping sprint.

  • Reading a great book

All the bookworms out there will understand the feeling you get when you start a great book and you lose yourself in the author’s universe. Not knowing when hours passed, I am unable to distance myself from the book until I turn the last page, only to miss it once it’s gone. As a kid, I remember crying when I finished the last book in a series that I fell in love with.

  • Going out for dessert

A guilty pleasure that I like to indulge in is eating a great dessert. Ever since I could talk, I had a sweet tooth and I was madly in love with sweets. Nowadays I like to keep the cravings under control, but every once in a while I love to go out and try different deserts.

  • Dressing up

Nothing changes my mood than dressing up, especially when there is no special occasion. Whether is accessorizing my outfit or simply changing from the basic jeans to a skirt,  this is my go-to treatment for the blue days.

  • Walking hand in hand with my significant other

Even the worst day can be changed in a second when I am walking hand in hand with my loved one. It helps with recharging my batteries and offers me a different perspective on whatever happened.

  • Coffee

Saved the best for last. There is nothing like a great cup of coffee to change my mood, even if I know that I spend a lot on coffee, this is the one vice I totally indulge in.

We all have our bad days, but even in those not so pleasant times, there are fast remedies that can better your mood. What makes you happy?

Book Review: 365 Days of Happiness: Because happiness is a piece of cake! by Jacqueline Pirtle

As you’ve probably seen in my last posts, 2019 is the year in which I want to make peace with myself and learn as much as I can about happiness, and what better way to learn about it than reading a book aimed to teach us how to embrace it?

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If you were a fan of The Secret, I have great news, you might have found another book to add to your reading list since 365 Days of Happiness starts from the idea of positive thinking and takes you through ways you can make it a routine in your life. We all know that we should put out positive energy in the Universe to receive it back, but how will we accommodate this?

Jacqueline’s book is a divided into 365 small chapters that act as the days that we have in a year, each day you learn how to accept happiness into your life, how to accept yourself for who you are, be present, to recognize when happiness is at your door.

One of the points that I absolutely loved was to accept sorrow and sadness when they come and visit, to live through these feelings but also to walk away from them when it no longer feels good. I read a lot of books that wanted to teach me to be happy by walking away and denying any negative feelings, unfortunately, life’s not working like that, we cannot run away from them, bad things will happen and we will have to go through them, but as the book says we should accept them, but also move away from them and not settle in unhappiness.

Another takeaway point was the idea of treating your happiness as a part of yourself, one that you have to nourish, to understand, and to respect. To constantly try to create a healthy relationship with it and to be thankful for what you have. Even if these might sound like something obvious I am pretty sure most of you, like myself, forget to be kind to oneself and to take care of your own happiness. Instead of being thankful for what we have, we focus on what we would like to achieve and on the pitfalls of our life. Instead of focusing on the empty half of the glass, we should try to focus on the fact that we have the glass, to begin with, to understand why it’s not full, but to be happy and grateful that half of the glass is filled.

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To be honest, I would have loved to follow the author’s advice and keep the book by my bed and each morning to read one of her chapters, but unfortunately, I was way too curious so I went through all 365 days in a week and a half. That doesn’t mean that I will not turn to this book once I feel I need to be reminded. Personally, I loved the idea of small chapters that are perfect for reading in the morning while enjoying the first cup of coffee, starting the day with the correct mindset that should be kept until the next day.

I feel like 365 Days of Happiness is the type of book that you should have on your mobile phone or on an ebook that you always keep by your side, for whenever you feel down or that you just want to give up, pull it out and read a few chapters, it will make you feel lighter and positive in a few minutes.

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Being happy might not be something that will happen overnight, it’s something that needs to be understood, recognized and praised, and Jacqueline’s book can really help with getting a few steps closer to the overall goal, to be happy.

Book Review: The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

Who better to preach about happiness than the happiest people in the world, the Danish! The author, Meik Wiking is studying happiness and is here to show us how we can be hygge, just as they are in Denmark.

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Hygee is a Danish word that doesn’t have an exact translation in English, placed between comfort, hominess, relaxation and of course, happiness, it describes how to be present, enjoy the moment and embrace the northern lifestyle.

Divided into fourteen chapters, the book will describe what this word is all about, how the Danish people achieve this state of hygee, and how you can try to get it at home, wherever that is. Learning from the best how we can find what everyone is looking for, the hygeeness!

2019 is the year in which I would like to know more about happiness and how each and everyone can achieve it. I would say that this book made me realize a couple of things, some of them perhaps might sound obvious to you.

The place that you live in needs to be a real home, a place where you feel safe, and where you enjoy spending time.

Being present and thankful for what you’ve got, even if it is not great, it’s more than enough.

Comfort should always come first, you cannot be happy unless your body is too.

Money is not going to bring you happiness, it might offer your ego what it needs but not your sole.

Having people to share the important moments is priceless.

Whenever you feel blue, you can always grab something sweet and light up a candle, this will also cheer up your spirit.

The weather should not affect your mood, if it’s rainy outside enjoy the sound of rain, if it’s snowy make a snow-man, if it sunny go for a walk, every moment can be a happy one if you find a way to make it.

The happiest people in the world, live in a place where it is cold, windy and dark half of the year and yet they make the most of it. What’s your excuse?

Happiness is also found in routine and monotony, not only in the big moments, those are pretty rare and don’t last very long, so enjoy the first ones.

Riding a bike can make you happier. I know this might not sound very promising but Copenhagen is the most bike-friendly city in the world, and as you’ve probably heard also one with the happiest people on Earth, coincidence? I don’t think so!

I definitely want to visit Denmark and especially Copenhagen!

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well is exactly what you need during the winter months when it’s cold outside and you feel like you need the summer to be happy again. Feel the hygee at home, alone or with your friends or family, during winter or summer, when you are at your favorite coffee shop or when you are in the park, during Christmas or while cooking. As a plus, in the book, you will also have a few receipts for traditional Danish dishes for you to try. Trust me when I tell you, reading this book will make you have a hygee moment! Happy reading everyone!

The Life Lottery

I will have to disclose a couple of things about myself, I am not really a believer, don’t think God is real, even though like any human I tend to pray when I am in trouble, I don’t believe there is a greater force, nor that faith decides my destiny, don’t really believe in karma or that if you are a good person only good things will happen and the other way around. What I do believe in, is luck, each day is a lottery and each day you either win or lose.

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What do I mean by life lottery? Well, it’s like this, each day you get out of the house and you don’t get hit by a car is a win, each time you get through the day without finding out you have a critical condition or you lost a loved one, is a win. Even if it’s easier to think that these will never happen to us, guess what? They are happening to someone, be happy that someone is not you. Or that it’s not you today since it’s unlikely you will escape a life without going through stuff as I mentioned.

But why do things seem to happen only to certain people, what is wrong with the losers or how they can switch sides? If there is something that I learned from my sister that is to be confident and wish for more. When I was in college I almost never found a parking space near the building, but when my sister came she always did. One day as we drove to the university I told her that we will never get a space at that hour, but she said that for her there will always be a space. When she got to the building someone was just leaving and she found a space right at the entrance. Ever since I educated myself to “find the spot” and guess what, in the upcoming year I almost always found a spot.

What is the secret here? Positive thinking! As I said I don’t believe in karma, I’ve seen so many confident evil people that went through life making everyone else miserable and without ever paying the price and amazing people who died because they cared too much and suffered for all the evil in the world. So what will make a difference is how each individual decides to live and think about his or her life.

If an optimistic person will lose a finger, he will be so happy for being only this, for making it alive and for not suffering other injuries. If a pessimistic person will go through the same thing they will complain about things only happening to them, of the injustice of losing a finger, of the pain they had to go through, etc. Same story different reactions, one will feel blessed one will feel damned.

There are certain things that we cannot control, no one knows how his or her life will turn, the only thing we can really change is how we will feel about that and how we will react. I am not saying that you are not allowed to suffer or to be sad, but there is a silver lining between letting yourself down and never getting up, and getting your s*it together and enjoying life. Even with positive thinking, I don’t always find that parking spot, but when I do I enjoy it. Good things happen every day, it up to us to see ourselves like the lottery winners since you are not granted tomorrow I suggest you enjoy what you gain today.

Happy holidays everyone!

Then Vs Now

As a kid, I was told by my parents that I am very disorganized and reckless, that I don’t know how to prioritize my work and that I will never be able to wisely administrate my money. Last month when I told my boyfriend, he started laughing and told me that I am the most organized and responsible person he knows. So what changed?

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When we are kids our parents think they know us the best and they describe ourselves to us, interestingly enough, we accept the picture they paint us and take it as the correct one, even if things are completely different. All my adult life I thought that I am extremely reckless with spending the money I was receiving or earning, also that I am not able to correctly organize my work, so I kept on adding more and more rules to my day to day activities without realizing that I am no longer a kid and that I am getting too many limits for myself. Never for a second did I thought that I should be kinder and that I need to loosen up the rules that I am setting until my boyfriend pointed to me that I am not the way I think I am.

If I am to analyze my behavior and my lifestyle I realize that I never leave any bills unpaid, that I never delayed paying the rent or the credit card loan, I keep an agenda with everything I need to do for the day, I always start with the hardest task or the one that has a higher priority, I keep all my documents safe, I thoroughly organize every trip I make, I keep a list of the things I need to buy, I create a monthly budget and I stick to it most of the time. If those are not the characteristics of a very well organized and responsible person then I don’t know what is. But why did I fail to see this in the last 5 years?

Our parents will always have our best interest in mind, they want us to succeed in life and, usually, they want to see themselves in us, they want us to do great so that they feel great about our success, but they sometimes sabotage us with their behavior. Clearly, they are not wrong about everything, I know for sure I have my fair share of flaws, one being the fact that stress is my middle name, but we need to stop and ask ourselves if the way we see us, is the way we really are.

My desire to become nothing like the way my parents pictured me made me a better person at work and also made me be responsible for my personal life, but even so, enough is enough, I cannot live my complete life under very strict rules, sometimes I need to bend them in order to be happy. I strongly advise everyone do to some introspection and reevaluate the way they live their life, it might happen to discover that you are doing it completely wrong.

About Happiness

Our expectation in life is to be happy, or so does anyone say these days if you ask them what they what to have in life. So the desire to be happy is what is driving people to keep on going, unfortunately, most of us will never reach that nirvana, since there isn’t a place or time when we will just stop and be happy. Why? Because we don’t define it correctly, so what is happiness?

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I will start the list with what happiness is not since I believe we first need to see where we are failing so that we can find a way to succeed, and only after will I describe what happiness is for me.

1. It has nothing to do with money.

There was a meme that got shared a lot on social media, that stated that it is better to cry in a Ferrari than on a bicycle, yet Denmark is here to prove us wrong since it’s in top 3 countries to live in and Copenhagen is rated the most bicycle-friendly city. So it looks like it’s better to work out on a bicycle than stay overweight in a car, whatever label it is. Having money has nothing to do with being happy, the wealthiest people I know are obsessed with making more since they are afraid of not having enough.

2. It has nothing to do with material things

We live in a consumerist economy that teaches us that happiness is directly liked to the things we own. In order to be happy, we NEED that new phone, that new SUV and we absolutely need that designer bag, we are failures if we don’t have to dress in the latest fashion. The worst thing is that we start to think like this, we tell ourselves that  we would be so happy if we could afford that 3 bedroom apartment, even if we would be the only person to live it in, that we would feel so good if we could replace that the car with the latest BMW, even if it still works fine. What we fail to see is that the more things we gather around us, the more pressure we put on us to maintain those things, so the more dissatisfied with our life we become.

3. It has nothing to do with beauty

If you haven’t yet seen Model Squad series from E!, then you have missed nothing, yet this show is all about the “glamorous life” of models. Yet even the most beautiful women of Earth, that walk Victoria’s Secret runway are told that they are to fat or too skinny to take up projects. Even these women have insecurities and are self-aware of their beauty. From what I was able to get from the show, they are not the happiest people and their life is not as fancy as it sounds. Linking beauty and the XXS size to happiness is only another myth.

4. It’s about mental and physical health

Reality is created by each and every one of us in our brains. If two people would describe the same experience, chances are they would see it in a completely different way. Taking care of your health is one of the most important things, your body needs to function in the correct way in order to feel good. Just imagine the moment you are down with a severe cold or a nasty headache, would you be able to feel happy about seeing a beautiful sunrise?

Sometimes we have to lose our health in order to fully appreciate it and to start taking care of ourselves, but trust me when I say that you need it if you want to experience happiness and well-being.

5. It’s about the ability to forgive

Holding grudges might be more harmful than you think, some studies even linked to getting fat. Betrayal is never a pleasant experience, yet it is up to us how much we let it affect us. Whenever you feel like you are incapable of forgiving someone, remember that it is possible that you also hurt or betrayed someone, we are humans and we make mistakes and that is why we need to try to be the bigger person and put it behind us. Resentment is the opposite of happiness, so try to eliminate this from your life.

6. It’s about the power of letting go

Sometimes people leave us, other times we lose them, life is not fair and it’s not easy, some events cannot be prevented and time cannot be turned back, so we need to make peace with the past in order to enjoy the present. Letting go might be even more painful than forgiving someone, but it’s necessary to be relieved from the ghosts. The good memories will always be there and you should hold on to those, but the rest needs to be released.

7. It’s about appreciating what you have

One of my favorite songs as a kid was Sheryl Crow – Soak Up The Sun and its lyrics got stuck in my brain: “It’s not having what you want / It’s wanting what you’ve got”. If you are able to read this, then you have access to the internet and you have a computer, most likely you are not hungry and you have a roof over your head, this is more than most of the people from the planet have. Getting mad over the waiting line at Zara, or the misspelled name from Starbucks or the wrong order from whatever restaurant is not worth it. Imagine your life without water, in a war zone or with a terminal phase disease, I hope by now you start appreciating all the great things from your life because you are among those who won the life lottery.

8. It’s about the journey

Making a dream come true is an amazing feeling, but so is working to make it happen, every step of the way is a reason to be proud and … happy! There is no final destination, there is always the next dream, the next great thing, so you need to start taking pleasure in the current journey.

9. It’s about living the moment

Concern about what the future will bring us, regretting the things we did in the past, we forget to live the only moment we have, and that is the present. There is no time machine, we will never know what is to come and we cannot change what was done, but we can do something about the current moment. Tomorrow should not be taken for granted, so make the most of today.

10. It’s all about love

Whether it is the love you have for your body, for the people around you, for the world around you or just for life, all comes back to the love you are putting out there. Happy people are the ones that smile to the world, that embrace human connection, which is constantly in love with life. It all circles back to love, whatever you do, there is no happiness that you can achieve by yourself.

If you got all the way to this point, I hope you understood that you are happy and your life is a happy one, you just have to realize it. Happiness will never be a constant state, there will always be ups and downs, there is no such thing as a constant happy life, it’s just normal life, one where you take advantage of what it has to offer. So whenever you find yourself wishing for that happy state, just have a look around, there is a huge chance it’s already good.