Since I was very young, all I wanted was happiness for myself and everyone else. When I had to think of birthday wishes or New Year resolutions, I remember always asking “I wish everyone around me is healthy and happy”, sometimes I would ask for the boy I liked to like me too, things like that. But there were never wishes for material things.
As I grew older I discovered that I was only happy when I was not thinking about myself too much. You focus on number one, you’re done. You start comparing yourself to others, competing, envying, or you feel sorry for yourself, embarrassed, you feel superior, or inferior, you get greedy or you become a victim. It really sucks. It sucks to be self-centered.
You are in your room, staring at the floor, your mind traveling to the past to feel regret or to the future and you get nervous about all the uncertainty, anxious, afraid or excited and restless. The present moment is where you wanna be, because it’s the only thing that can be really enjoyed, and it’s the only one you can count on for sure, and modify. The past is done, you can’t change it. You can look at it in different lights but it’s over. The future does not really exist. This present moment will extend and you will get there but nobody knows if there will be here tomorrow so worrying about it, or expecting things to get better then is really silly.
You are in your room, or on the couch, and your mind wanders and you lose track of time, you get lost in thoughts and forget to live. Now as soon as you look out of your window, everything changes. There might be a bird on a branch, or the reflection of the sun in someone’s window, or crazy storm clouds. Then you realize you’re alive and that there are many other living beings around you, animals, plants, other guys, little children, puddles, a light breeze, a butterfly. They are all out there, outside of your own head, waiting for you to live, to come out and play, to use that wonderful machine your body is, to feel how it works, use its muscles, walk, jog, ride a bike, dance. They are all waiting for you to realize how good nature’s food is for you, how light and healthy. But if you turn on the TV instead, you’re trapped in your own mind again, and the worst possible mind you can have, polluted with advertising and propaganda, police reports and manipulation.
Some people don’t want to be happy I guess, or just don’t know how. They think it’s better to eat meals out of a box than to feel the grains of rice and soft water between their fingers as they wash them. Cooking a light healthy tasty meal takes between 20 and 40 minutes. I find it hard to understand how some people would rather eat a disgusting hot dog and spend that half hour watching death and products they can’t afford on that awful screaming box while they see their bodies get fatter and heavier. But we are all free to choose how we want to live.
Now I know some people just haven’t thought of it, maybe nobody told them about the alternative, maybe they just don’t know better. For all those people, here is my holiday advice: stand up and live. You want to be happy, get off your ass, turn off that fucking thing, and think long and hard about the things you like doing (buying shit does not count). What do you enjoy doing? Do you like carpentry, do you like to draw, write, fix engines, cook, read, play with your children or pet, do you enjoy a walk on the beach, playing guitar? I’m not asking if you’re good at it. It does not matter if it’s hard, I’m asking you to ask yourself what it is that gives you pleasure in life. Making love? Having bubble baths? Chatting with friends? Drinking coffee? Write a list and make sure you do them everyday. You do have time. To learn anything. It’s never too late, it’s never impossible. People in wheelchairs become amazing athletes or people who can’t talk or walk become famous scientists. Stop making excuses and get on with it. Live your life!!!
Now, most importantly, stop focusing on Number One. Believe me, it sucks. I used to worry a lot when I was a teenager but soon I realized that the moment you focus on what you can do for others you’re full of bliss. I’m happy most of the time and I believe it has to do with that. I don’t really like the word “service” which is used in some religions. I like the word “surprise”.
This is the most important piece of wisdom I’ve acquired. Do little things to surprise others, it will help them but it will help you most of all. It’s much nicer to give than to receive, if you try it you’ll immediately know what I’m talking about. Everyday we see people who are lost, or having a hard time, and most of them only need a little bit of our time and attention. We can provide a solution just by listening and giving our opinion. Or by surprising them with a little something: a book we think they’ll enjoy, a warm meal, a cold drink, a hug, a big smile, a big noisy cheer from our car window, a ticket to go see a movie, and invitation to have tea at our home.
I don’t want to talk about Alex’s dad right now because he’ll tell you himself but really this is what life is about. Your loved ones only need you to call them, share little things with them, visit, take them for a walk, share photos. Sometimes relatives are buried in anger or drowning in grief and regret. And it’s mainly ego. If one of the people involved stops thinking about number one and just focuses on the other one, tries to understand where they are coming from, and has the guts to get past their ego and be the first to knock on the other’s door and ask for a hug, or five minutes to talk things through, the problem usually just vanishes. There is no possible fight when it’s one-sided. It takes two stupid egos for unhappiness to conquer. If only one wants to be angry and the other one is loving and understanding, sooner or later the other one will follow. And both will be relieved and in peace. This does not mean that you have to be friends with everyone, there are people you have more or less in common with. But staying angry or sad just for the sake of not being the first one to show vulnerability is really really stupid. Clean the messes in your past today. Call those people. Apologize. Listen to their side of the story. Understand where they are coming from. Heal.
And do random acts of kindness for others, every week, all the time. Start with your friends and family. Then do it with strangers, leave little notes around for people to find them, pick up garbage, keep places clean for others, make this a better world for everyone. Once you start living like that, you’ll laugh at your older self. It’s never too late. And like my title says in Spanish, “cualquier excusa es buena”, any excuse is good enough, just do kind things for others and your heart will be excited with anticipation, you’ll feel content, warm, optimistic. Until that day in which your body will leave this place and you will live on in all the hearts you’ve touched.