It’s the end of the year, Christmas and New Year’s time, and for most people, a break from work to travel the world. As I sit in my living room under a furry blanket on my phone, scrolling through my social media feeds, I see glamorous and breathtaking photos of oceans, mountains and colourful skies, historical architecture, mouth-watering dishes, and endless sights of this magnificent world.
I glance out my living room window. White snow, white ice, bare naked trees. I suppose I have to be satisfied with that.
After reflecting briefly on that thought, I decided: you know what?
I am okay with that.
I have outgrown the stage where I used to unconsciously and mentally compare myself to the highlight reel friends post for their network to see. Back in the day, perhaps I’d have felt that my winter break – being spent with just family at home, no new sights to see – was pathetically sad and lacking compared to the whirling adventures everyone else was going through. Perhaps I’d have felt peeved that I’m not really as content as I thought I was before the moment I saw all the Instagram stories.
But I’ve matured. I have learned to listen closely to my heart and carefully avoid falling into the traps of comparing-myself-to-others (which is a dangerous road to envy). I now know that if I was content and at peace before logging into Facebook and Instagram, I sure as hell am still content and at peace. My happiness does not have to take the same form as everyone else’s.
Don’t get me wrong, I think travelling is an unparalleled experience and something worth undertaking for sure. I think travelling opens minds and hearts and is almost like a drug – albeit a legal one and halal, of course! And I think travelling is a sure way for my heart to swell and glow.
What I mean is, simply this: not everyone is at the same place in life to do the same things at the same time. Not everyone is able to use up their short winter break and leave their families, leave weighty responsibilities, or have enough financially to travel. Not everyone is in the right mindset or emotionally ready to explore the world alone without a travelling companion. Not everyone has the right health conditions, or wants to leave a loved one that is ill, to take off for wild adventure. Not everyone has the privilege to travel at this very instant.
If you are in one of the above situations, do not for a moment allow yourself to feel like you are missing out. Happiness is not only what you make of life, but also what you choose of how life makes you. You can still make your heart grow and glow in other ways, but you need to know yourself first.
Right now, my winter break may sound a little lame to some. I’m spending it with my large and wonderful family. We have intimate discussions about faith matters, go out to coffee shops, play board games, watch Netflix and movies together. We make our own New Year’s party, celebrate birthdays with unhealthy sweets, and drive together to go grocery shopping. When I want “me” time, I curl up with a book and hot drink, and read; I write in my diary, journal and blog; I make art in the form of drawings, paintings, geometric patterns, or calligraphy – whatever my mood demands; I communicate with friends; and I also just take the time to contemplate my blessings.
These things make my heart glow.
Whether you are travelling or not leaving your town at all, ask yourself: does my soul feel like it is growing? Is my heart glowing?
That’s the most important ingredient to happiness: your heart glowing. As long as that’s happening, then it makes no difference how your life is being played out.
Be thankful. Always.