comfortable ≠ happy

Comfort.

Today I was sick at home and could not help myself but to watch cheesy love movies to keep myself entertained. And I felt like I discovered what I would call the comfort problem: The young couple falls in love. They fight their way to their loved one against all odds and after some misunderstandings and complications they finally fall into each other´s arms. THE END.

This is where comfort kicks in. Now the both of them are comfortable – and will live happily ever after. And I find myself planning and striving for this kind of comfort.

That´s what many people see as the ultimate goal in life. You know, having enough money to live without worrying. For most of us that means being able to pay your bills, finding a reliable partner, that we can come home to and who loves us unconditionally. Oh and let´s top it all off with some amazing children and a friendly social circle. What could be more comfortable than that?

Dreaming the dream is more exciting than living the dream

Why do so many people including myself believe life will just be roses and teddy-bears once you´ve built up to that so anticipated level of comfort? Actually, in my case, it has often been quite the opposite. Let´s take moving into an apartment with a romantic partner. Creating the idea was – exciting! Playing around with the idea in our imagination – simply wow! Apartment hunting and furnishing the place – lots of fun! But when it came to the act of REALLY living together… that´s when things all of the sudden were not so exciting anymore. Sure, I´d give it a couple of months. We can call it the “honeymoon phase”. That´s the time when you still wake up to your spous and say things like “Honey, I am so happy to live with you. You are the best person and partner I could wish for.” or “Good morning new flatmate – what shall we do today?”. But (in my case) things quickly turned sour and conversations were more about who should be doing the dishes this time or fights about who forgot to water the cactus. (NOT me.)

Yes yes, I know what you will say. Such is life and this is just everyday routine. That´s how it is and we all have to cope with it. But guys, I am not so sure about that. Maybe it´s just our extreme high level of comfort that leads us to complain about the little things? Or are we just too bored with our lives?

Maybe comfort should not be the ultimate goal after all.

But if not comfort – What goal could there be instead? I was about to create a goal for me and my year of 2015. However, when I tried to think about goals for myself, I paniced. I did not want any of these comfortable goals. The goals I want to create for myself are way beyond what I believed to be possible for me. So I had to open my mind and think a bit differently. A goal does not have to follow the traditional way of doing things. What is it that would truly make me happy? And that´s when I realized my goal could be to stay open to different possibilities. A NOT-goal so to say. I decided not to give in to the comfort of having a little box to creep into thinking “gosh, I am happy I finally put a lable on myself”. Instead I will be out there, boxless. Or you can put me into the “other” box if you wish. I´ll keep my mind open to new ideas and possibilities in the meanwhile.

Avoiding comfort is not the solution

However, avoiding comfort in a 21st century western country is pretty unrealistic. We are born into a world where materialistic discomfort plays a minor role. It was complete chance to be born into this kind of world. And I do not take it for granted. It is luxury we live in and luxury to be thinking about all this. This article was not born out of a “simpler-life-nostalgia”. And I am not telling people to stay away from comfort in order to live some kind of Ghandi anti-materialistic lifestyle in order to reach true happiness. Nevertheless, I do encourage you to see beyond the traditional goals of comfort like paying your bills, buying a house etc. And eventually create your own goals that you truly believe in and that will guide you to become a better version of yourself.

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Happiness NOW

“Wow, it´s so nice here. I have to come again some times.” Or “We had such a great time. Let´s catch up soon.”
Do you know that feeling when you visit a new restaurant, or generally a new place, or you hang out with a nice person for the first time?

It seems like such a normal thing to do and sometimes it might just be an expression of how much we are enjoying ourselves. However, many of us try to extend the good time we had into the future without fully experiencing the present.

What do I mean with that?

If you are already thinking about when to come back to this place, whom to bring and what to talk about, maybe even what you could do better next time – it´s not possible to live the moment to the fullest. E.g. you are hiking alongside a beautiful lake and your mind goes: “Next time I should bring food. We could make a picknick here. Oh and let´s ask Linda and John if they want to come along. Their dog would have a great time. This could be our small hide-away. Let´s come back at least once per year.” Wow. You have build a whole imaginary future for yourself based on a snippet of your current experience. Are you then REALLY enjoying the moment and living this experience to the fullest? Nope, you are not even present. You are living in the future. And you probably missed a great chance to experience happiness NOW. In that very moment.

Many times when we do something without having any expectations we get surprised by how much fun we can have. If we give ourselves to the moment and allow ourselves to experience this moment without clinging to the fun parts we can actually have EVEN MORE fun! Nice.

Be yourself. Forget about the box.

Wednesday morning. My inbox is full. It´s filled with messages from strangers that resonated with what I had to say.

On saturday when the journalist called to ask for an interview on escapethecity.org my life was different. Well, not exactly. But my inbox wasn´t full at that time.

I had not completely grasped how connected our world is and how simple it can be to get in touch with people. There is a theory called the “small-world-phenomenon” describing that every person in this world is connected to any random person through less than 6 personal connections. Wow. And the internet makes getting in touch with people even simpler.

So here I am. My current lifestyle allows me to stay at home with my cold and to wear my pyjamas until noon while booking appointments for interviews and shootings as well as coming up with new photography projects. I love my life.

But life has not always been like that. Actually it has not been like that until just a couple of weeks ago when I finally decided to take action. I stopped fighting my inner gifts and talents. And I gave up on fitting into the box I had put myself into. I have come to the realization that it is not an external force that puts us into a box. Only when we give away our power – that´s when we feel stuck. Every one of us has his/ her own set of unique talents and gifts. We are here to do what we came here to do. There is no recipie.

So, I hope you love what you are doing. Because that´s the only thing we are here to do.

 

This is why I said no to that 70k job offer

A couple of days ago I received a job offer. A headhunter from the UK thought I would be a good fit for a position paying 70k plus benefits and a brand new car. The vacancy was a perfectly logical consequence to my previous work experience.

It would connect the experience I had in the corporate world with the responsibility and flexibility I had in my latest job. But there was one thing the headhunter did not know.

I am not my CV.

My CV is based on acquired certificates and based on so called “facts” about my life. It does not reflect my hopes, dreams nor talents.

It does not show that every time I went to the library to write my Bachelor Thesis about “Change Management in IT Consulting”, I would allow myself to borrow one book for myself and that the books I chose were without exeption art history books and autobiographies of my favorite painters.

It also does not show that I chose a minimalist-oriented lifestyle that allows me to save as much money as possible just to spend it on my passions camera equipment and travels.

And finally, it does not show that feeling in my chest every time I see corporate people in suits. Or that I have fallen into depression several times during my “career” because I did not find any satisfaction, meaning, or joy in my work.

I am not blaming the headhunter. He was just doing his job. And after a bit back and forth he still wanted me for the job and I wrote him this message:

Dear XXX,

I appreciate your persistence. However, I am not the right girl for the position this time. When my heart is just not in it there is no need to put me on the shortlist of candidates.

It´s a privilege to have the freedom to say no to such a position.
All the best to your client and your search.
I hope you love what you do.
 
Have a great weekend!
Valeska