happiness & fun

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I Want to Be Rich in Memories

“My life isn’t perfect, but it does have perfect moments.” ~Unknown

Practice was over, the hot Florida sun was settling in behind the tall bleachers, casting golden rays onto the track. Behind me was my dear school, engulfed in beautiful palm trees. “California Girls” was playing through the speakers, and I was laughing with friends at something a teammate said. There, I realized how truly alive I felt in that moment. It was seemingly picture perfect in every way.

A couple years ago I could only imagine being on this team, going to such a great school, and living in such a beautiful place as sunny Florida.

Growing up as an immigrant child in the United States comes with a lot of uncertainty and oftentimes, worries, as you never know what lies ahead.

But through all the uncertainties stood my beautiful family, always my rock through every situation. And now, standing on the crimson-red track, I understood why my family had sacrificed so much to be here. I maybe would have never gotten to attend an American high school and to participate in a sport I love so much, or to feel as free anywhere else.

After fearing political persecution back in my home country of Kazakhstan, we were blessed to have a new beginning in America.

I realized in that moment how wonderful it is to be living this life and how a seemingly ordinary moment can be taken for granted.

Life is composed of countless moments worth living for, strung together by the seemingly mundane stretches in between.

The moments, when all the chaos freezes, the outside noises die down, and you realize that you are living the dream you could once only pray for, it’s much like a cinematic fragment of a Hollywood movie—everything is still but the beat of your own heart and you feel nothing less than alive.

Could it be that these glimpses often pass by us unnoticed, while we’re busy living in the thresholds of our complex minds and endless woes? As soon as we deal with one of life’s issues, it seems another is ready to spring into our mind leaving us in a rat race for happiness.

We’re always chasing happiness, as if it’s something complicated and hard to find. Just Google books on happiness or success and I guarantee you’ll be occupied for a while.

But happiness isn’t something we can permanently attain. It’s much like a fleeting wind—one moment it’s here, and another, it’s far gone.

It seems to me that everything we do is driven by the desire to be happy. But what are we really looking for?

Does his wish for a new car stem from the desire to have autocracy over a heap of metal, or the desire to feel free as he cruises along the coast reminiscing on his youthful years?

Does she really wish for a new phone, or does she simply desire to feel respected by her peers and a new piece of technology will allow this?

Recently, happiness appears to have been put on a pedestal, as if it is a prize reserved for the chosen ones. But happiness isn’t as elusive as we may think; it’s available to everyone. It’s about the simplest of life’s pleasures. It’s about the moments we live for—of warmth, friendship, and kindness. We just have to recognize and appreciate them.

When I am old and withered, I want to be rich in memories—to have gone out, seen the world, and lived every moment that this life could give.

I want to be rich in memories of sunrises on beaches, long hikes, family dinners, passport stamps, sunsets in New York, beat up sneakers, midnight fireworks, genuine love, endless laugher, sunshine on rainy days, and close friends. This is pure happiness, and these are the moments we live for. Let’s start collecting them now.

About Aida Sarsenova

Aída’s family immigrated to America from Kazakhstan when she was six years old, and she grew up as a first generation American. Today, she attends high school in sunny Florida and dreams of becoming a journalist one day. She’s also a lifeguard at the YMCA, runs cross country and track, and volunteers with the clubs at her school.

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If You Think Reaching Your Goal Will Make You Happy…

The path IS the goal.

The process is more important than the result.

Life is a journey, not a destination.

There are three very common, some might say cheesy and clichéd sayings you may hear when it comes to taking action to reach your goals.

Some of you are probably rolling your eyes already, and I did when I first heard quotes like these.

But I’ve recently realized something that has made me U-turn on a lot of my own old, outdated beliefs around goal-setting and achievement and acquisition of material things, or just generally “making it” in life.

The path you’re traveling, the journey you’re currently on, really is the only thing that matters. All we have is the now.

You can and should have dreams and aspirations, but I want you to think beyond them. You are capable of so much more than you think.

Plus, the path you’re on may very well change for you, as it did for me.

I’ll tell you about my dream.

I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a professional musician. I wanted to tour the world as a guitarist in a metal band. Not necessarily be a rich and famous rock star, but to play shows, record music, and make a decent living doing so.

I started out on drums originally. I used to practice at school. (No way were my mum and dad going to let me have a drum kit in the house!) I was pretty uncoordinated and flailed around like a sweaty octopus making a racket, so I ditched the sticks and picked up a second-hand electric guitar, vowing to one day “make it” in the music biz.

Despite my family and friends all thinking that it wasn’t going to happen, and in some cases actively discouraging me from pursuing this very unorthodox career, I did in some small part succeed. I have played nationally and internationally, written and recorded music. I also have made a comfortable living teaching guitar for nearly ten years now.

But what I am most proud of is not the fact that I proved my parents wrong or that I can stick two fingers up to anyone that doubted I would ever get this far. It’s not that at all.

In some ways, they were kind of right. I didn’t fully make my dream come true after spending twenty-five years trying to do so.

You see, I was just on a different path for a while to the one I’m on right now. Allowing myself to evolve naturally, let things take their course, and stop trying to control everything, has been an absolute game changer and has gotten me to a very good place.

My original musical dreams, combined with my passion for helping people, led me down another route from that of the main stage at a festival—to teaching guitar. And I’m so proud and quite frankly amazed sometimes that I’ve been able to teach hundreds of people in my local area, and hopefully have made a positive impact. Playing a small part at least in their musical journeys.

Where am I going with all this bragging!?

An illusion of control is what I believe we have, but we truly don’t know what’s around the corner for us.

And I think that the immense pressure of setting and achieving goals takes away some of the fun of that unpredictable journey.

We set ourselves goals to achieve or acquire things that we believe will make us happy, right?

So, you’re not after the goal per se, you’re actually after a happy feeling. You can have that happy feeling right now, even if you haven’t yet reached your goal. And you might eventually find you’re happier doing something else, if you’re willing to let go and shift gears.

Next time you’re setting goals just remember that change is inevitable. Be flexible with your goals and have fun going after them!

It’s fine to follow your dreams, but always follow the path that brings you the most happiness in the present.

All we have is the journey.

About James Kane

James Kane is a Personal Development Coach from Southampton, UK specialising in helping men feel less stressed, anxious and depressed. www.jameskanecoaching.com.

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