Follow The Trail To Simple Happiness
This weekend I was reminded of just how much less complicated life needs to be to bring about joy and how ohhhh so refreshing that reminder can be.
Living in the Western World in 2016 it’s easy to get caught up in what we’ve all come to know, sometimes despise, often thrive on and for many simply survive in as the “rat race”. Life gets busy, we adapt and get busier with it, our to-do lists get longer, along with our days. With this busier life, our problems and challenges often appear larger, the larger we are living at life… More money leads to a bigger house, a bigger house = bigger bills, bigger bills = more stress, more stress = more need for holidays, more holidays = more need for higher earnings and so it can go on. I often listen to my clients talking about these issues and strains in their day to day living and the stress that it causes them. It’s not an uncommon theme for them to recount to me how their partner feels unappreciated, the kids are bored and need more gadgets, more overseas travel to stimulate their minds, a more opulent house so they can have their friends around to play in and higher expectations of what will make them and their families happy.
After a busy week trying to cram as much as I could into the few days I had to do it which can be typical in inner city living; crucial emails replied to, workshops attended, dinner catch-ups, exercise squeezed in, bags packed and our kind girlfriend temporarily moved in to look after our much beloved pooch in our absence, I flew to Far North Queensland to spend the weekend with my partner’s family for the christening of his new nephew.
On arrival into Cairns, we stepped out into a wall of tropical heat, smacking us in the face which left us cursing being inappropriately still clad in Sydney work clothes that we’d boarded the plane in. We ran for cover and sheltered in our full force rental car bubble of aircon for the 1.5hour drive to the bustling metropolis of Silkwood. I say bustling with a hearty dose of sarcasm, I mean sleepy. Time stops a little when you spend any time in this part of the world, partly because it’s too damn hot to do much other than sit around in the shade and comment on how hot it is as you sip a cold beverage, and partly because there is not a lot of obvious entertainment up there other than the local pub which charges an arm and a leg due to being the only one for miles around.
We arrived at our family’s home amongst fields of Sugar Cane as far as the eyes could see, instantly donned some breezy clothes and enjoyed our family time for the afternoon. The next morning, the weather forecast was unsurprisingly “HOT” and we attended the humorous baptism ceremony where we all wondered if the quirky country priest had been enjoying his own cool beverages a little too much as he mumbled and gestured through the proceedings like a character out of some comedic cartoon. Afterwards, ducking from the heat of the day between the church and the local steakhouse where everyone gathered for a celebratory lunch, I wondered several times how people survive in a world of that kind of extreme heat and limited options and wondered how the young people of the town survive a life with no malls, no cafés or wine bars where a great many of the people who cross their paths each day they have known their whole lives.
In the afternoon, once the most intensive part of the day’s heat had dropped away but the sun was still high in the sky, we packed up an eski, donned our togs, grabbed some towels, packed ourselves into a couple of cars and headed to our relative’s friend’s property a few kms away to swim in their “creek” and cool down, us girls in one car and the boys in the ute, them taking the back dirt toads to get there quicker whilst we took the scenic route through town not passing another car along the way. I really didn’t know what to expect but was sold at the mention of cold water and shade, my kiwi blood having not acclimatised at all since arriving. Once at the farm, we loaded up the back of 2 utes and with the babies and Mums inside the cabins, the rest of us sat on the back of the open trays and held onto the guard rails for the short bumpy drive down the back of the property, the littlies squealing with delight with every bump as the breeze blew their hair back and they grinned at each other in delight. The older kids – two 11 year old girls proudly lead the way ahead of us all on a 4 Wheel Motorbike confidently owning the dirt track down to our watery playground. We got to the “creek” in a mere few minutes, off-loaded from the Utes, packed the essentials onto the back of the 4 Wheeler and the girls proudly drove it across the shallow creek bed whilst the rest of us waded through shin deep water to a naturally formed riverbank on the other side where we set up our little picnic spot. Kids and adults alike then piled into the creek, snorkelling, lolling about, floating in rubber tyres and jumping off rocks ensued. The water was cool and clear, not so much a “creek” but a little oasis amongst the harsh climatic land. I was in heaven – it was the first time since arriving that I felt cool and relaxed. At one point I sat on the riverbank and looked out at everyone enjoying themselves, completely content in this simple pure place that changes shape regularly with the rains and cyclones and continues to provide a slightly different environment each time our friends visit it. There were no iPads, no phone service, no TVs, not even a radio, the kids were all laughing, the adults relaxed and none of this had cost us more than the price of a few picnic items. And what’s better was it was all at the bottom of their property. There’s something to be said about simplifying things, getting back to nature and embracing the things that we have all around us. The sheer joy of those 11 year old girls driving the quad bike by themselves, exploring the nooks and crannies of the edges of the creek with their snorkels, the elated giggles of the babies splashing around in their floatations suits and the stress-free faces of the parents was a beautiful example of how easy it is to find moments of happiness in everyday things. We stayed there til the sun went down and the breeze became too cool against our wet togs to remain any longer.
As we flew in now over Botany Bay into Sydney Airport and I looked out the window at the expanse of housing already in view, I was instantly reminded of the perceived bustle that comes with living in the Inner Sydney area, I think it’s important to remind ourselves that life doesn’t need to be complicated, it can be as simple as we want it to be. Search for those simple joys in everyday things, look around you, what’s on your doorstep that can provide those same feelings. Trust me there are plenty of ways to create some pure, simple happiness everyday, it is us and our choices that over-complicate our own lives.
Right – I’m off for a walk with my dog round the water because that makes me happy and brings her joy which also makes me even more happy.
What little things are you choosing to do today that brings you some simple happiness?