My list for a happier life! Rated “E” for Everyone!

Lately, I have been on a mission to find a way to live my life more fully. I was overwhelmed for sometime after moving to Serbia. Getting my “Sea Legs” has taken more time than usual. I think having a child pull your attention does that.

Now I have found some purpose just looking for one. Ironic right? But I know that won’t last long. I must find something to do here besides the farming bit that I love.

In the mean time, I have found that one must choose to be happy. One must look for the things that will do that. Here are things I have found super helpful to me as an expat but would do for anyone anywhere. Really.

They are in no particular order. Lots of them will work in tandem with another!

Take a walk and enjoy the scenery. This can be difficult in some places. But it can be done if you are dedicated. I do this all the time in my “new” small town. I find gorgeous sites locals don’t even notice. They ask me, “where is that house?” Of course they have passed it a ton of times, but have forgotten the beauty around them. I found the same to be true when i visited the U.S. last winter. We really do become immune to beauty that is all around us.

The walk will clear your mind. New ideas or solutions will come to you. Being outside is good. Get out of the house! You don’t know what or who you will discover.

Make friends with your neighbors if you can. But really. Make friends. It is important to your well-being.

It is important to have good friends. Sometimes that friend is a dog or a cat. That is o.k. Chances are, you will find someone. Be open. and make some friends!

Helping others can do wonders for you. It really makes you feel good to do things to help others. it could be just listening to an old person who is lonely. It could be opening a door for someone. Moving a snail from the sidewalk to the grass. Whatever! just help someone!

Give Giving is like helping. It really does make us feel good. Even if it is just a smile, give your smile to a stranger.

Smile. Even if others don’t smile back. Living in Eastern Europe makes this a bit challenging at times. People don’t smile back. They don’t even wave back at my little girl when she waves. But she keeps on waving. And I keep on smiling. I hope that the smile does something to brighten someone’s day. If not, it gives some sour old coot something to wonder about. “why was that weird lady smiling at me?”

Adopt an animal. Animals bring an immeasurable sense of joy. An animal friend can limit loneliness to nothing. It can ease culture shock to a minimum. I know this from experience.

If you live in a place where you can have an animal and there are street animals. Adopt one of them. Take food with you when you go for a walk and share with your homeless furry friends.

Listen to music! It is medicine for the soul. Find some fun stuff. Upbeat Dance music always does it for me. and Dance it out!

Write! This blog is a huge bit of therapy for me. It is an outlet, a diary, a chronicle of my life that clears my head and gives me purpose. I hope sometimes that it helps others. But there is no doubt, it helps me beyond belief. I am happier because I write.

What makes you happy?

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18 thoughts on “My list for a happier life! Rated “E” for Everyone!

  1. Totally agree with all of the above. And my blog has indeed kept me sane through some of the rougher times. And I keep smiling at the miserable old biddies as well – confuses the hell out of them 😉

  2. Great survival list. The first time I visited Eastern Europe, it was Yugoslavia where Tito was in charge. Nobody was smiling at tourists or Americans. Years and years later, in Slovakia, most of the people had never met an American and were slow to be friendly. It takes time. Just keep smiling for yourself.

  3. ‘If not, it gives some sour old coot something to wonder about. “why was that weird lady smiling at me?”‘Love it! I feel exactly the same way. I was the talk of the village last week because I was (how dare I?) SINGING while I was out for a walk! CLEARLY I’m insane, singing and smiling and waving. Lock her up immediately!

    • I am SO glad you said that. I sing when I am out with Millie. I would do it anyway, But I know there would be LOTS of talk around town about the crazy foreigner! I am not flattering myself. No one sings to themselves. I have walked past some crazy people talking to themselves though! It happened today in fact!

  4. Usually people in Europe see that as a fake smile (typically American). Why would you smile at some random stranger, it is just the cultural difference between Europe and the USA.

    • Wow, That must apply to mostly Eastern Europe. It is quite typical all over western Europe to return a smile and to smile more frequently. I chalk it up to difficult lives here. But smiling is known to make you feel better and help others feel welcome or even happy. I generally smile most of the time. I don’t feel has happy without a smile. And I want to be happy all the time. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • It definitely seems to be this idea of ‘fakeness’. This is extremely strange tho’, as it’s actually more unnatural not to respond positively to friendliness. Look at babies; before they’re taught differently, they smile at every happy person (stranger or not). It’s sad that some cultures encourage us lose this. I, personally, do not see that the Balkans hold any greater level of ‘authenticity’ versus ‘fakeness’. They’re just as capable of in-authenticity; just without the sunny disposition.

  5. Germans smiling back, thats news to me. But then this is not USA, we do not behave like Americans, we dont live like Americans, and certainly dont have same cultural standards. I am very positive person (always looking on the brighter side of things), and i never had the urge to smile at random people. As i said to me that is a fake smile and i would not smile back because i dont know you, and would think that there is something funny about me.

    • You are right about the Germans. I wasn’t thinking of them being a part of Western Europe. But they are. I am glad you don’t behave or live like Americans.That is not what this is about. This blog post is just about making people happy. I would do and have done the same thing in the U.S. Smiling encourages happiness. I am not asking you to smile at me. I didn’t even ask you to read my blog. But you did. maybe that was your mistake? Anyway, I do hope that you are happy and that something makes you smile. That is all.

    • It’s really such a pity that you frame your understanding of the concept of spontaneous smiling on being fake. And even more so that you seem to frame it around the American culture in particular. I’m from South Africa. In my country, we have numerous cultures (indigenous African cultures by the dozens, large communities from India, Portugal, Greece, Holland and the UK, etc). Within all these communities, a smile is simply a smile and you do not have to earn it.

  6. I have to strongly disagree with you in one thing. Serbs really love children. And that is first thing that every visitor to this county would realize. Eastern Europe is geographical term (and Serbia doesn’t even belong to it) and in every county you would find a lot of cultural differences. Loving kids and showing that even to complete strangers is one of Serbian uniqueness in compare with other European countries.

    • Hi, Pera. You’re absolutely right about that; Serbs really do love their children. My analogy had nothing to do with that, however. My point was that babies, in general and no matter what their culture, smile very easily to happy and interesting beings even if they are strangers. This is our natural state. Also, my point on Juzna Afrika was that even tho’ it’s a melting pot of dozens upon dozens of large communities with different cultural backgrounds they all recognize the universality of non-verbal communication. It’s certainly not the only country with many cultures, but it’s the one I, personally, can speak about.

      • Hi Sandra,
        I agree with everything you stated but my comment was not addressed to you, but to blog owner. In particular, referring to the part where she says that people don’t even wave back at her little girl when she waves. That sounds strange to me.

      • Ah, Pera, I thought you were replying to Sandra as well. Sadly, What I said is true. As a rule, people are much more accommodating to children. They tolerate so much more than Americans. Children are the joy of Serbia. BUT, As my daughter and I stroll along in the park or around town, I am shocked that people offer the same blank stare they offer me. She says “hi” and waves to no response the majority of the time. Shockingly enough that even goes for other women walking their children in strollers! Yet, I would take that over the hateful looks people give children for making noise in restaurants in the US. See, not all fake smiles there. Cross cultural living is all give and take as you well know. I have traded easy smiles in the US for a greater consideration for children in Serbia. But I still like to try and make people smile ans spread some joy. 🙂

      • Hi Pera. Many apologies, I received your reply in my inbox so I just presumed it was a response to my comment. On the topic, though, I guess we’re all expressing the general tone of experiences we’ve lived through. But, that doesn’t mean our own experiences express the whole truth of something. There is always more to learn, more to understand and more to discover and love. Personal Blogs are generally about sharing experiences with one another which is really wonderful and we need to respect that and not become to overly concerned about turning this kind of media expression into a platform for debate.

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