It’s the second snow day in South Carolina, which means the entire state has shut down. Some people are happy to have the days off, and some people… well some people never have too little to say. Then there comes boredom, and I know it’s causing a lot of conflicting feelings. Many people are taking the opportunity to sit in bed all day flipping through Netflix or catching up on some much-needed sleep, and then there are people like me who are walking around in circles trying to find something to do.
While staring at my broken bookshelf, I noticed one book in particular staring back at me: Hector and the Search for Happiness.
For many people who follow my Twitter or Facebook account, it’s probably plain to see I have been very unhappy and very dissatisfied in my life as of recent. I wanted to make a change. I wanted to take the scalding words from my break up: “I need time to work on myself” and actually apply them toward myself. Then I stumbled on Hector and his search for happiness and was immediately humbled by God’s utter use of positioning.
Now back to the book.
Hector is a psychologist who has recently discovered that he is very unhappy with his life. He has become impatient with listening to others, and even more impatient with himself for not being able to take his own advice on happiness. Basically: How can I tell people how to be happy when I’m not even happy?
Hector does not know how to make people happy. Then Hector decides to take a trip.
In this trip, Hector travels to Paris, China, Africa and the United States. He watches people and takes risks to find out what exactly are the components of happiness. This is what he learns:
- Lesson 1- Making comparisons can spoil your happiness.
I had a friend who would constantly compare himself to his sister. He was beautiful, smart and very talented in so many aspects of his life. He never saw how great he was because he was always comparing himself to his sister. Happiness is when you do not make that comparison.
- Lesson 2- Happiness often comes when least expected.
I think the same lesson goes for love, too. Happiness and love come when least expected.
- Lesson 3- Many people only see happiness in their future.
One piece of advice that should never stand alone is that things get better in time. While many people need to hear this, we must also be considerate of the present. Happiness does not only exist “in time” or eventually; happiness exists right now.
- Lesson 4- Many people think that happiness comes from having more power or more money.
I think this is a very interesting lesson because it poses the question: do power and/or money truly bring happiness?
- Lesson 5- Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story.
When my mom lived in the Philippines, she had a pet chicken. She was elated one night when her family told her they were having fried chicken for dinner instead of just rice. Indeed, happiness is not knowing the whole story.
- Lesson 6- Happiness is a long walk in beautiful, unfamiliar mountains.
When I took a road trip from Kansas back home to South Carolina, it was rocky to say the least. I was tired, cranky and ready to get home. However, when I hit the mountains in North Carolina, it was like all the unhappiness fled from my body and replaced with utter happiness. The wonderful thing about mountains is that they often take away your phone signal and you’re left with nothing but the mountain and your thoughts.
- Lesson 7- It’s a mistake to think that happiness is the goal.
If you spend your entire life in the pursuit of happiness without actually tasting happiness, there is some mistake. Happiness should be dispensed in large increments… along with sadness, too. Happiness is not the goal, but a lifestyle.
- Lesson 8A- Happiness is being with the people that you love.
- Lesson 8B- Unhappiness is being separated from the people that you love.
We are all human. We crave attention, we crave love. It is one of the many things Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us. For me, happiness is being with my mom.
- Lesson 9- Happiness is knowing that your family lacks for nothing.
One of the most important lessons that I have ever learned is my family has always and will always provide me with the never-failing strength to get me through my weakest moments. There is only one bond stronger than that of family, and that is God’s love.
- Lesson 10- Happiness is doing a job that you love.
When I worked at the Charleston Animal Society this past summer, I understood this lesson perfectly. I met so many people whose life dedication was to protect, provide and save homeless animals. These people I worked with truly found happiness coming to work.
- Lesson 11- Happiness is having a home and a garden of your own.
Until this past January, my mom had never owned a physical house. We had rented apartments, houses and lived with my grandparents all my life. I never knew how much happiness owning a home could bring until my mom called me one day to tell me she bought a house – no, she bought a home.
- Lesson 12- It’s harder to be happy in a country run by bad people.
Of course, this goes without explanation. I thank God every day that I am an American.
- Lesson 13- Happiness is feeling useful to others.
When we feel useful to others, we are fulfilling what we have been put on this earth to do. Feeling useful gives meaning to our lives, of course it brings happiness!
- Lesson 14- Happiness is to be loved for EXACTLY who you are.
I know far too many people, including myself, who have tried to change who they are to be loved by someone else. I knew a girl who began to smoke cigarettes because the boy she loved smoked. I knew a boy who changed his entire lifestyle to feel accepted in a society that he thought wouldn’t accept him.
- Lesson 15- Happiness comes when you feel truly alive.
Do you know what its like to feel alive? To wake up one morning and have your heart on fire with passion and purpose, and to do things with love? That is happiness.
- Lesson 16- Happiness is knowing how to celebrate.
Celebration in its own is a beautiful thing. We celebrate birth, graduation, soccer games, new jobs, holidays, LIFE; we celebrate beautiful days that deserve every ounce of our happiness.
- Lesson 17- Happiness is caring about the happiness of those you love.
I love a guy whose happiness is invested in his church. It makes him happy to be a part of his church’s worship team and to play for God. Although my happiness was not particularly invested in his church, it made me happy to watch him perform because I knew it made him happy. It still makes me happy.
- Lesson 18- The Sun and the Sea make everybody happy.
There is something about the sunshine that marked in happiness. Everyone who lives by the sea understand how well the water can know your heart.
- Lesson 19- Happiness is not attaching too much importance to what other people think.
When I was younger, a girl told me my nose was not flat enough to be a Filipino. While I am still trying to figure out this lesson, I know that the day I become unattached to this girl’s opinion of my nose will be the day I grow happy in my nose.
- Lesson 20- Happiness is a certain way of seeing things.
There are many personal example I have of this particular lesson, but I want to leave it by saying perspective is the path to happiness.
- Lesson 21- Rivalry ruins happiness.
Refer back to Lesson Number 1.
I loved this book the first time I read it, and even more so writing this blog post. It has been therapeutic in my search for happiness.
What do you guys think? Are these lessons relevant to happiness? Are there other things that can be added to this list?
p.s: Here’s the Hector movie trailer!