A Slice of the Good Life – An Excerpt about Daily Choices

A slice of the the good - an excerpt of daily choices
How many times in a day, in a week or a month do you do things for pleasure?

I’m sitting in the NSCI library – one of my favorite places in the city. It is still early in the day, the library is so quiet and my chair is so comfortable. People around me are engrossed into their laptop screens.

My laptop too, is switched on, staring at the keyboard, I’m thinking ‘what should I write?’

I plug in my headphones and set Jose Gonzalez’s ‘Stay Alive’ to play.

The first chords of the piano have started and my mind is instantly at ease.

A few beats later, his voice rings in and his words make the song come alive.

“There’s a rhythm in rush these days
Where the lights don’t move and the colours don’t fade
Leaves you empty with nothing but dreams
In a world gone shallow
In a world gone lean”

I don’t realize it immediately, but a few seconds later I find that inwardly I’m smiling. I ask myself, ‘isn’t this nice?’.

Before I know it, I’m thinking about my morning, how I woke up with a sense of optimism, the clothes I’m wearing and everything that could lead up to this feeling of positive reinforcement.

Then I think back. Could it be because I visited the temple the day before? Or because last week, I met an old friend after 6 years? OR simply at the prospect of eating Chinese food within the next hour?

The lyrics have become softer and the song has reached its third verse.

“I will stay with you tonight
Hold you close ’til the morning light
In the morning watch a new day rise
We’ll do whatever just to stay alive
We’ll do whatever just to stay alive”

I’m not entirely sure if the lyrics have triggered it, but suddenly I’m feeling very introspective.

I’m back to thinking about my day and the different variations in which we experience joy.  Currently I’m experiencing a mixture of emotions, but I can definitely identify happiness in the whole gamut of them.

Is it because I had this prolonged desire to come to the library, listen to music and write? And today – despite the nagging feeling to stay home and complete work – I chose to fulfill that desire just for the simple pleasure of it?

A slice of the the good - an excerpt of daily choices
Me doing what I enjoy! Except I wouldn’t recommend anyone wear sunglasses while reading. (Did it just for the picture :p)

How often do I do this – I mean – in a day?

Instantly I’m reminded of Alejandro Zuniga – the Costa Rican fruit vendor, from the Nov 2017 issue of National Geographic.

Better known as the man who’s possibly the happiest person in the world.

I know it’s a serious title to hold, so here I am recapitulating his story: He works no more than 40 hours a week with people he trusts; he eats at least 6 servings of fruits and vegetables most days, sleeps 7 hours every night, volunteers for a few hours every week and indulges in prayer and soccer every weekend.

Can you believe this is the life of the ‘happiest man in the world’?

You don’t see it at first, as how can a man with no expensive cars, houses, gadgets, jewelry or even aspirations for that matter, be crowned as the happiest person in the world? But, here’s the thing: everyday that he lives, he makes daily choices that predominantly favor happiness.

And that says something, because when he won the lottery of about $93,000 a few years ago, he gave every cent of it to his friend, his mother and his 4 ex wives.

His story was told alongside a sociologist from Denmark and a business man from Singapore on a topic that bilaterally connects the social policies of these countries to the daily choices made by its citizens. For them a happy life is obviously projected through the otherwise recommended virtues of purpose and satisfaction. But given my immediate state of mind, I find Alejandro’s story most inspiring.

A slice of the the good - an excerpt of daily choices
The Nov 2017 issue of National Geographic

Because even though I uphold the ideals ambition over everything else, today, I got to experience the value of pleasure. Especially through something as plain as coming to the library, eating Hakka Noodles and listening to the same song on a loop.

Right on cue, the last lines are playing before the song can end.

“There’s a rhythm in rush these days
Where the lights don’t move and the colours don’t fade
Leaves you empty with nothing but dreams
In a world gone shallow
In a world gone lean

But there is a truth and it’s on our side
Dawn is coming open your eyes
Look into the sun as the new days rise”

We don’t realize it as often as we should, but sometimes it’s these little things – our daily choices that add up to a larger quantum of happiness. If not my little excerpt, take Alejandro’s life story as testimony to it.

I’m so happy today and it took so little to make this possible: just the ability to make a choice.

The truth is I’m not recommending that we instill Alejandro’s principles into our own lives, rather learn from what his story secretly teaches us; that even in our goal oriented, productivity fueled, long term planned lives, it’s good to take a moment off and intentionally choose to spend it in the pristine beauty of pleasure.

Oh Well. This has been an insightful morning for me; I still have to eat lunch, and yet I feel full, as though I just tasted a slice of the good life, fresh off Alejandro’s fruit cart.

29 thoughts on “A Slice of the Good Life – An Excerpt about Daily Choices”

  1. As simple as to choose to be happy. Love this infectious attitude. And the lucidity – snapshot of your soul at this moment.

    Keep it up rhea

  2. So true!!with our busy lives we don’t realise it.
    Superb Rhea!! You are getting better and better with each blog post!! Continue doing it ❤️

  3. The perception of happiness is different for different people and it’s always changing. For some, happiness lies in being content while for others, in ambition. I am glad that you are finding happiness in simpler things of life.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, this is exactly what I wanted to convey through my post 🙂 Just as the sociologist from Denmark and the business man from Singapore derive happiness through purpose and ambition, sometimes like Alejandro, it’s nice to sit back and absorb the moment to moment happiness we get through our everyday life.

  4. Thanks for good article.
    Reminds us to conciously be happy.

    In January 2017 I lost my father. He left this world as a very happy and satisfied man. He made a choice to renounce his body and leave this world when his body became bondage due to bad health. In Jain relegion we have this beautiful busted to go with dignity.
    He had no fear and was looking forward to go to a wonderful place in next life.

    Inspite of being very close to my father , till date there is no sorrow in my head or heart. I thank God daily for a wonderful life my father had and peaceful and happy exit.

    So happyness to me is remembering and being grateful for each blessing God has given us.

    1. Thank you for your wonderful comment and for sharing your story with us. It’s really nice that your father passed away as a very content and happy man; a tradition you so beautifully are carrying forward. It’s always the little things: feeling blessed and feeling grateful. Thanks again for your story 🙂

  5. Your post touched a cord Rhea. If we choose to look deeply, there can be great joy in being simple and great strength in being ordinary. You’ve brought this out so beautifully. Keep writing always sweetheart.

      1. Hi! Thanks for both your comments 🙂 It is true, happiness can be derived through the simplest of things and sometimes a life that is perceived as ordinary to others can actually contain extraordinary happiness. Sometimes even in our ambition fueled life, it’s just a matter of taking those few moments off and spending them in choosing happiness.

  6. Very well written – good to see you finding true happiness in the simplest of things – that is the ideal state 🙂 I use music as my everyday therapy!

    PS: the Hakka noodles/Chinese food from NSCI are great examples of real happiness:D

  7. The more you focus on good stuff, the more good stuff you find.
    The happiest people are the ones who practice gratitude and focus on loving life consistently.
    I am really glad you have focused on happiness..and simplicity…continue with happy blogs.. will love to read them..
    good one.

  8. This blog post itself has made me feel so happy! It was so interesting to read about Alejandro, and how something so simple made you feel happy and positive. Keep writing such posts, Rhea 😀

  9. Appriciate your article on Happiness. Enjoyed reading it and understanding your views on Happiness. Keep it up and my best wishes are always with you.

  10. Yes Happiness is right here.. just need to attempt to choose it !!!! And yes well said it will come through gratitude attitude 👍🏼
    Loved your happy positive write up… keep the enthusiasm going.

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