À la poursuite du bonheur

À la poursuite du bonheur- traslated: In the pursuit of Happiness

What really is the fast track to happiness? At times, my friends ask me if I’m ever mad or sad because I guess I don’t usually display my somber moods. I assure you, as an imperfect human being, I do get upset at times just like everyone else. I just choose (wisely I hope) what things to ignore and what to spend my energy on. I noticed two articles on Marie Claire’s (UK edition) April 2012 issue about happiness. The first one was about Mimi Spencer spending a week to find out what truly brought her happiness– whether it was baking, yoga or making friends with perfect strangers. These all sound like pretty good things to me. The following article was about three Marie Claire writers sharing what brought them true contentment. The list included pastries in bed or sex with younger men? Well then! Whatever floats your boat, right?

I love anything that involves talking about or sharing happiness because it’s really what gives us the fuel to keep surviving, to keep going. Happiness is the core strength of our short lives. We’re always looking for it, and sometimes we never even realize that we’re happy until something happens to prove that we once were. I hear it all the time. Some people say, “Those were the happiest moments of my life.” And when I look back, I lived the moments with them and they were always complaining and dissatisfied with pretty much everything. We always tend to cling on to those happy moments when things get tough because that’s how we’re able to surpass our obstacles. At least, I do.

It’s funny because I think I am a happier person the older I get. I’m sure at one point in time, that will probably stop. We’ll just have to wait and see. I would say that I was not brought up with a silver spoon in my mouth, and I’ve spilled a few tears. I also won’t say that I had a terrible childhood because I still remember a lot of the amazing moments. I am grateful for everything I’ve had.

Some of the things that make me happy now are a bit different from what made me happy as a child. So, I will try to list some of the things/moments that have made me happiest throughout my life.

When I was a kid:

  1. Whenever my dad visited us from the United States. Not because he always brought me gifts but because at that time, I thought he was the only person in the world who loved me. I remember him doing push-ups while I sat on his back eating a Popsicle, or him clipping my toe nails as I told him some bizarre story. He used to say, “Paola. Qu’est ce que ca veut dire?” Whenever I did something he considered inappropriate, instead of spanking me like most Haitian parents.
  2. I had this bookstore by my elementary school in Haiti. I used to go there every afternoon to immerse myself in different cultures before I was even introduced to them when I came to live in the US. I used to read about American pop culture in French magazines. I even thought about having a pen-pal, but I was never sure about how to approach my mom to give me money just so I can write to a stranger in a different country. I could picture her face now.
  3. The smell of the earth after a big rain.
  4. Tim Tim/Bwa sech jokes in the dark. Those are Haitian riddles. They’re pretty fun in Kreyol, but confusing and weird when I try to translate them in English.
  5. When I saw New York City for the very first time. You can only imagine! The lights! Oh man, the lights.

In High school:

  1. A new pair of shoes. I was obsessed. I thought I would have a career in fashion or something.
  2. The school’s library. I spent hours there during the week. The librarian loved me, and I could borrow any book I wanted with no time limit.
  3. Winning student council president. I still remember the sweat under my arm pits, and the way my legs were shaking as I stood on stage addressing the students, most of whom I was terrified of.
  4. Seeing a Broadway show in New York for the first time after I organized the trip with student council.
  5. Whenever my team won a basket ball game. Cougars! I was not a great player by the way, and I think it was because I was so shy. I think the fact that I am tall and ambidextrous, the coach like me just a little.

In College:

  1. Meeting my boyfriend. Finally meeting someone who shared my weird sense of humor, and the fact that we are so different in some ways makes it interesting.
  2. Picnics under the cherry blossom tree.
  3. Walking around the arboretum at night.
  4. Working The Other End, a student run coffee shop on campus. I was a manager there, and everyone who worked there was all so eccentric in their own way. It was always a fun time to talk to them. We also always had an awesome party at the end of the semester.
  5. Service trips in the Dominican Republic. I was able to help people while seeing the similarities between Dominicans and Haitians.

Post College/now:

  1. Moving to New York City. Finally what I was looking forward to do my entire life. Packed, moved, no friends, no solid plan, no back-up plan.
  2. Meeting interesting strangers. New York sure has a lot of those.
  3. Visiting Paris for the first time and second time. I think Paris will always make me happy, just like New York. So Paris is just one of the things that make me happy.
  4. My current apartment. Just seeing how much I’ve grown and all the roommates I’ve had or little rooms I’ve rented. I’m content.
  5. Working. Yes, working makes me really happy.
  6. Lazy Sundays. Being served food or drinks while I lie around.
  7. My boyfriend’s cooking.
  8. Phone calls from my mom.
  9. My mother’s cooking.
  10. Hanging out with my brother.
  11. Seeing my old roommate Anna, and reading her texts about me being a horrible phone owner.
  12. Picnics in Central Park.
  13. Getting lost in Nice, and waking up to a wonderful breakfast with an amazing view.
  14. Dancing everywhere and anywhere.
  15. Happy looking couples.
  16. Lying on a NYC bridge laughing with dear friends at 4:30 AM.
  17. Talented Subway musicians.
  18. Hula hoops, heart-shaped sunglasses and bubbles.
  19. Free outdoor events.
  20. Yoga.
  21. Extremely long walks.
  22. Jumping with Lauren and gallivanting with Sarita.
  23. Real food. Good food.
  24. Spreading fun.
  25. Old couples.
  26. This old lady makes me happy.

And so much more! You see what I mean by me being a happier person as I get older? When I was younger I never noticed any of these things because I think I was always focused on myself and my longing to be elsewhere. Now that I’m where I want to be, I stop and smell the flowers. I like getting lost from time to time. Just losing myself in something new and interesting. Maybe that’s why I love walking so much.

Enough about me. What about you? What makes you happy?

8 Comments on À la poursuite du bonheur

  1. Mai
    October 5, 2012 at 4:27 pm (2 years ago)

    Such an awesome list. I love your posts Paola! Long walks (on the beach of course hehe), having dinner with my friends, lazy days when I can snuggle under my blankets. My weekly chats with my manman who is still in Jacmel.

    Reply
    • findingpaola
      October 5, 2012 at 5:31 pm (2 years ago)

      Jacmel! That’s a place I have to visit when I go back to Haiti. I hope your manman is well! Thanks for sharing your moments of happiness. :)

      Reply
      • charlene
        October 8, 2012 at 8:03 pm (2 years ago)

        Wonderful post Paola. I love hearing that meeting your boyfriend made you happy. I’m also happy that you met him! XO , Charlene

        Reply
  2. sherlljourney
    October 4, 2012 at 9:08 am (2 years ago)

    wow, wow, wow I do appreciate they way you described your list of things that makes you happy and i certainly do learn a few things from your story. we can relate to each other in so many different ways by manydifferent things do, and it makes my heart smile whenever i come across someone similar to myself either on the streets, on campus, or the social networks…especially when its a Fanm Kreyol like MOI.

    Reply
    • findingpaola
      October 4, 2012 at 1:19 pm (2 years ago)

      Hey Sherley,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post! I always find it fascinating when I meet people who are different from me, but have the same values and enjoy the same things. Doesn’t it feel good when you find people you can relate to? Kenbe la! From one “Fanm Kreyol” to another. ;)

      Reply
  3. bornattwentyfive
    October 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm (2 years ago)

    Love your lists of what makes you happy! My boyfriends cooking makes me pretty as well! So does a nice long walk outdoors. Something about being in nature makes happy and peaceful all at once.

    Reply
    • findingpaola
      October 4, 2012 at 1:20 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you so much! When the boyfriend cooks it’s the best. Especially when he knows what he’s doing! Sounds like we’re both a bit spoiled. Hehe.

      Reply
      • bornattwentyfive
        October 5, 2012 at 11:08 am (2 years ago)

        It’s only spoiled if we take it for granted! Lol

        Reply

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