Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Happiness Project

I just finished reading an excellent book called "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin.  I've linked her blog there, which was actually something she started as a part of her personal project.  This book has me feeling really inspired.  First, because it's the first book I've gotten all the way through in... a pretty long time.  Second, because her personality seems so much like mine (with all its faults) and the changes she makes in her life are totally achievable, totally manageable and very positive changes. 

That and I'm on a self-help, self-improvement kick lately. 

Gretchen's basic idea was an approach to improve her life.  She began by settin a Resolution List, followed by a List of Personal Commandments (the woman loves her lists).  Her Resolutions were all of the areas that she wanted to find more happiness and her Personal Commandments were the rules she had to maintain throughout all of those resolutions. 



Areas she wanted to find more happiness were your basics - energy levels/health, family, friends, career, spirituality but she also looked at other things like money, pursuing passions, mindfulness and leisure.  Her set of commandments were as follows:

Of course, you need to really read her book to understand how she uses these tools to help her pursuit for (more) happiness.  But certain aspects of her journey really spoke to me. 

Things like 'showing up'. 

Something that I really value in others is when they show up to things they promise to show up to.  It really really makes me upset when people cancel at the last minute, flake out with some ridiculous excuse, or don't come at all to something important to me. 

But then I had to ask myself, do I always show up?  One thing about Cariocas and living in Rio is that people are pretty flaky and it's pretty common to make plans with someone that you don't actually intend to follow through on.  This has kind of given me a carte blanche to cancel plans when I don't feel like going. 

But then how can I be such a hypocrite?  The truth is, this bothers me in others.  The solution is that I have to make an effort to show up 100% of the time.  It's the old 'practice what you preach' saying, which could be one of my commandments if I were to start my own Happiness Project (which I'm seriously considering). 

That leads into another of the elements about Gretchen's project that inspired me.  Do it now.  If I'm thinking about doing a happiness project, or re-starting acupuncture, or joining the yoga studio down the street, or making an appointment at the doctor to look at this funny spot on the bottom of my foot - well why not just DO IT NOW?  It would be a big source of happiness to follow through on my thoughts and ideas and not just let them float around in space. 

Anyway, this is a starting point for me to consider what I need to do and I really don't think there's a better time to start than now.  With all of the changes (and happiness) that have come into my life in the last 2 months (which quieted some major sources of unhappiness) I was beginning to wonder "ok, so now how can I get even happier?"  My basics are now covered in Maslov's hierarchy when they weren't before, and now I want to keep growing. 

And I wonder... Do you think it's possible to be too happy?  Do you think we can max out our happiness?  I don't want to reach a point of 'ok well, I achieved that! Now what?"  What are some of your sources of happiness and what do you do to keep finding new happiness?  Very interested in this idea of personal happiness.....

 A Happiness Manifesto
  • To be happy, you need to consider feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.
  • One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
  • The days are long, but the years are short.
  • You're not happy unless you think you're happy.
  • Your body matters.
  • Happiness is other people.
  • Think about yourself so you can forget yourself.
  • "It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light."—G. K. Chesterton
  • What's fun for other people may not be fun for you, and vice versa.
  • Best is good, better is best.
  • Outer order contributes to inner calm.
  • Happiness comes not from having more, not from having less, but from wanting what you have.
  • You can choose what you do, but you can't choose what you like to do.
  • "There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy." —Robert Louis Stevenson
  • You manage what you measure.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I've got the 'gripe'

Sick, sick, sick.... It's terrible to be sick.  It's great if you're faking it to get a day off work but as usual, karma bites you in the ass and then you really get sick.  I don't know what I have exactly but anyone in Brazil will tell you that if you're sick, you've got gripe.  Technially it means flu, and I could have the flu in this case, but even if I just had a sore throat, or a sniffle, I've got the gripe.  To me, it sounds like I've got the clap.

Side Note****In case that sentence wasn't 100% clear, I do NOT have the clap.  I just think that I've got gripe sounds like I've got the clap....

One thing I miss about Canada is being sick.  'Say what??', you ask?  It's true.  In Canada (with its mostly uninhabitable plains, where people live in ice and snow year round*) it's really common to get all kinds of sicknesses.  They come in with the chinook winds**.  But this means the pharmacy is always stocked up with all kinds of cold and flu medicine.  With CLEAR images and descriptions on the box to verify if what you got is what this medicine will cure.

Brazil doesn't have the same cold-and-flu season popularity as Canada does, so when I walk into the pharamacy it generally takes me a long time to figure out what I HAVE first, then I can decide what I need.  It doesn't help that, to me, Brazilian medicine all looks exactly the same.

What I have found in terms of over-the-counter medicine is that they generally will treat cold & flu symptoms like:
Runny nose: Coriza
Fever: Febre
Nasal congestion: Congestão nasal 
Headache: Cefaléia
Body Pain: Dores Musculares

Ok, that's fine.  But every single over-the-counter med does the exact same thing.  Where's my all in one medicine for a sinus and chest cold?  Or, in my specific case this time, sinus and sore throat?  In Canada they got this covered.  But I guess the common cold is to Canada what dengue is to Brazil?  I'd like to see them come up with a quick diagnosis for dengue in Canada.

As a final observation - something that is very common, potentially dangerous, but at times super convenient - is the ability to buy prescription medication from the pharmacist without a prescription.  For me, this was kind of awesome because I have always suffered from terrible sore throats.  I always visit the doctor during these episodes and they always prescribe me amoxcicillin.  I've had them so many times that I can completely tell when one is coming on and how bad it's going to get.  It's pretty handy to just walk into the pharmacy and ask for my amoxcicillin without going through the hassle of visiting the doctor's office.

Now, I know that I takes my meds responsibly and I take them until the end.  I can't speak for the rest but I can definitely take a guess that this generally isn't true for many others.  Now they are really tryin to crack down on prescription meds only with prescription.  Hell, we even tried to buy some last night and we got rejected.  Now I'll have to find a rogue pharmacist who can support my habit - er - my basic needs.

Probably won't be so difficult.  We are in Rio after all!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dear Son-of-a-bitch Who Stole My Bike....

This was my actual bike
To the stupid a**hole who stole my bike yesterday while it was parked (AND LOCKED) in front of a busy finance office on Praia de Botafogo where I was giving a class for only ONE HOUR, please kindly burn in hell.

I don't want to believe you stole my R$1000 bike to sell her parts for R$50 to support your drug habit.  I want to believe that you desperately needed a bike because you can't afford the bus.  Because you needed a way to get your kids to school.  Because you wanted to be a delivery boy and it was the only way to get the job.  I want to give you the benefit of the doubt that you weren't just a stupid jackass and believed, for some reason, that you were entitled to what was mine, just because it was left locked and unattended.

Am I the sucker here?  I locked my bike.  Why do I feel so guilty?  Like I didn't lock it enough... like I should have put two locks on it.  Or I should have tried harder to find a garage to put it in.  Like I got too comfortable and this was just a bit of reality stabbing me in the kidney just to put me back on the right track.  The track of fear and mistrust.  I hate this feeling.  I want to be able to trust people and to live in a safe place where I can leave my bike locked on the sidewalk in front of a busy building and trust that nobody will steal it.  I want to at least trust that a bystander on the street would see a guy with BOLT CUTTERS cutting the lock off my bike and try to stop him...

I've been told, and I believe, that I've been very lucky living here for almost 2 years.  I've never had any kind of trouble with theft, or even with suspicious people.  I take the bus alone. I take my IPhone out on the bus.  I walk through tunnels.  Things that people constantly tell me not to do, I do.  Because wtf!  I don't want to have to give up my right to freedom!  Sometimes I swear that if I were robbed I would not give in easily.  But again, I've never actually been in that situation so I can't say for sure how I would react.  In my 'robbing fantasy" (yes, I have fantasies about being robbed - well, they're more like daydreams) I always grab the guys' weapon and scream "No! You give me YOUR money!" and they get scared and run away and I'm a hero.

But I dunno.... I can't really trust that I'll follow through on that... especially since everyone who comments here will say "Are you crazy!  Just give him everything he wants!"  I know, I know.... 'thing's aren't worth your life'.  I agree.  I just feel so pissed that my husband worked so hard, saved his money for months, bought and surprised me with this beautiful blue bike, and some jackass comes along and takes it.

Probably to sell for R$50 to support his drug habit.  Prove me wrong, thief.  Return my bike and prove me wrong!

Here are some pics of me enjoying some beautiful days on my bike.... Tear!  I love you my beautiful bicycle!
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