The song Shallow has been playing a lot lately in my head. I think Bradley Cooper’s voice soothes me and the lyrics speak more than words. Today is International Day of Happiness and I borrowed a sentence from the song for this post, because I find it more provocative than the simple question “Are you happy?”.
Adding context to this old question seems to validate the fact that nowadays in order to be happy we need more than food, shelter, or a job to pay the bills. In this modern world, we need to feel that life has a purpose and a meaning; we need to feel that there is a reason greater than us to wake up every day and embrace what life has to give us.
A few months ago, I made the decision of leading a simpler life. I decided I don’t want to stick to a career that only gives me money and no opportunity to voice who I am. I decided I don’t want to run in circles like a chicken whose neck was cut off without mercy or care. I don’t want to live to work and pay bills. I don’t want to obey to unethical bosses and I don’t want to keep surrounded by people whose values have nothing to do with mine.
Since I made up my mind, I haven’t taken a huge leap into making my life sustainable. I haven’t been disciplined enough yet to organise my hours and make my days count. Some days I feel like I’m a turtle, walking slowly. I do have, however, a different attitude towards myself and the way my life unfolds. When I catch myself being impatient, I smile and stand back. I remind my impatient self that Rome wasn’t build in a day and so far I keep being a one-woman business show, having to manage my own motivation, mind, and body on top of tasks I don’t feel excited about like having to analyse and write down my data.
The road I’m walking in is misty and I can’t see much further than two steps ahead, but I accept that as being just right. I have this big mental photograph of my destination, a beautiful place under the sun, and that’s from where I’m writing you these words while also listening to Bradley and Lady Gaga’s song. The sun is burning my nose and the top of my cheeks. My heart is at peace and mindless of the uncertainty. The Now becomes all I need and I feel content.
All in all, I’m happier than I have ever been since I left Lisbon in September 2015. I don’t know if happiness is the right word, because I feel a more peaceful kind of happiness. I’m happier because even though I don’t have the mind, the body, the energy, and the safety of a standard life plan I have my dreams and I shamelessly know what I stand for. I know myself a bit more and I’m no longer afraid of being different. I’m no longer afraid of doing and wanting to trek a different road.
I don’t mind living in this modern world, but in order to be happy in it I need to live on my own pace and terms. I need to embody the purpose and the meaning I found for my life. While pursuing that, I’m happy, living under the sun and breathing the air from the country side. Now please join me, sit with me on this wooden bench and tell me: are you happy in this modern world?