What makes you happy?

Happiness is a topic of conversation that never seems to end. It seems like people always have an opinion on the path to find happiness. However happiness is something that has to be cultivated within. It is not something that can be duplicated from someone else. Each person has to be willing to look inside themselves to understand what makes them happy. I have been fortunate to have had experiences that continue to make me happy, here are a few ones I would like to share with you.

Spending time with friends and family – There are very few things I love as much as spending time with my friends and family.Growing up in a big family you learn to that you have to be willing to share and get over arguments quickly. For this reason I am very close with my siblings even as we have gotten older. However we live in different countries so getting together on a regular basis is almost impossible at times. When we are able to get together it’s a great time of joy for all of us. We get to connect in person and share those special moments enjoying each other’s company. I feel the same way when I get a chance to meet up with friends I haven’t seen in a while. It feels as though no time has passed, we are able to have conversations with ease. It’s nice to look at where we are now and where we are coming from and just be grateful for how far we are.

Connecting with new people – One of my favourite activities is connecting with new people. I love getting to meet someone with an interesting background or  life experience. The other day I connected with someone who had a much different life than I had, however inspite of it we had so much in common. I love getting the opportunity to form and bond friendships with people, I think that’s what life is all about. I met one of my closest friends today on an off chance conversation after we had both completed our external examinations. I was so nervous at the time but I decided to be vulnerable and strike up a conversation. Now 8 years later we still keep in touch, and it’s great to see not only how our friendship has grown but also how we have grown as individuals. When I connect with new people reminds me that inspite of all our differences we are all human. Every one person has their own challenges and obstacles yet inspite of that they continue to rise above. That is what I look forward to most when I meet new people; being inspired by their life story.

Cooking – there are few things I enjoy more than cooking. Cooking is an activity that I grew up around. My father and my mother love to cook and it’s a trait they passed on to us as kids. There is something relaxing about getting ingredients and preparing them to make a home cooked meal from start to finish. I love that there are different stages to the cooking process. Whether it’s cutting up the seasonings or getting all the ingredients into the pot, it takes combined effort to make a good meal. With cooking I also love that I can be creative, there is no right or wrong way to make a meal. There are some dishes like meatball and spaghetti that I have the recipe down pat. However every now and again I like to try different spins on the same dish; like using more garlic, or using turkey meat instead of beef. Sometimes I come up with an amazing recipe or other times I get an amazing story out of it. In either case I love being able to explore different approaches. I have to say that above all I love being able to share my cooking with other people. Food says so much about who you are and where you come from and I love introducing different cuisines to people who may not have had this before. It’s a way of sharing another side of myself with others.

Travelling– I have to admit that I love to travel. As a child I had travelled to Canada and the USA but my first time travelling to a markedly different culture was when I travelled to Central America. That experience is without a doubt one of the most memorable times of my life. For the first time I got a chance to see what it was like to live in a completely new culture. The language was different, the customs and norms were different and I loved every minute of it. When you travel you have to be willing to keep an open mind because you are never 100% sure what you will encounter. I remember once when I travelled to Guatemala, my sister and I travelled to an area on the country side where we met a group of strangers. By the end of the day we had gotten so close to them and ended up spending the next day together. It was completely unplanned but it pushed us out of our comfort zones and we have great experiences to remember from that trip. Travelling forces you to open your eyes and see things that may not be normal to you given your own background. However during the process you end up learning more about their country and also more about yourself.

The journey to happiness is filled with wrong turns and questionable choices. However for me happiness are those moments where I am caught up in the moment and truly appreciating where I am at the time. As you grow older your views on happiness will change as you change. However you must always take the time to understand what activities make you the most happy and spend the time to do that. Life is too short to get caught up in all the stresses that you forget to nurture your own happiness. I am truly grateful that I have found activities that make me happy and that I have the opportunity to enjoy them freely.