The Secrets of Happiness – from an 80 Year Old Orphan

We live in a world that’s obsessed with the idea of being happy. Millions of self-help books, with the majority focused on this exact conundrum – aiming to drag us into, almost, a cult of meditators and gratitude journalists. It almost seems like happiness is now an unattainable fantasy, accessible only to those who follow the specific recipe.

So why is it that as time goes on, life gets easier, but the recipe gets longer?
People who face life-threatening circumstances are often happier than those who are untroubled by issues such as death, poverty, sickness etc.
So maybe we’re overthinking this too much. Maybe the problem is that we are making happiness the goal, rather than allowing it to manifest itself whenever appropriate without being deliberately monitored.

I’m not writing in an attempt to cure low spirits – but I would like to share my grandmother’s experience, in hopes that it may possibly grant you a new perspective on this topic or, at least, an insight into an interesting story.

My grandmother was born in Russia in the 1930s, into an aristocratic family. During World War II, her mother was taken away from her when she was just 6 years old, and she was left with her father and 4 siblings – an older brother and sister, and a younger sister. During the war, her father died and her grandmother took custody of her oldest and youngest sister, but in fear of a lack of resources – sent her and her brother to an orphanage. She lived there until she was 16, after which she ran away – jumping onto a train, not knowing what the destination was. It just so happened to take her to Irkutsk, which is where she remains today.

As you can imagine, my grandma didn’t have the easiest life, and to this day, she still doesn’t – suffering from arthritic pain, a heart condition, asthma, just to name a few.. but I have never met anyone with more positive energy than her. She’s the life of the party and is always able to make everyone laugh. So when she came to Australia, I took the opportunity to interrogate her on how she stays so positive, and this is what she told me.

You have to love and respect yourself
A big part of being happy is believing that you are amazing, smart and unique. Whenever something negative happens to you – you need to push your chest forward, keep your head up and know that you’re awesome, know that you have purpose and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Do not hide away, you must do the exact opposite and be confident in yourself – that is what is most important.

Deal with bullies with kindness
If someone says something hurtful to you – don’t retaliate with negativity, instead, be kind, and remember that if they were intelligent enough – they wouldn’t have said it, but since they did, they’re probably quite dim – and that’s a punishment all in itself.

Be true to yourself
Hold your ground, no matter what anyone else may say to you. It’s important to be certain of what you believe in and to never let anyone convince you otherwise. Conforming to other peoples’ beliefs is the first step on to the wrong track.

Be your own psychologist
If you realise that the same negative thinking pattern is taking over your mind and playing on repeat – stop it and cut out those thoughts. Accept them and then move on by distracting yourself with some sort of activity – my grandma likes to sing at these times. Know that everyone goes through tough times in their life – not a single person lives their whole life with absolute ease, regardless of who it is, accept this as part of life. 

It’s okay to cry
It’s not good to keep everything boiling inside of you. If you have no one to talk to – your pillow is your best friend. Vent your feelings to it, and it’s alright to cry, sometimes. Afterwards, get back up, smile and continue with your day.

Believe in yourself
No matter what state of mind you are in, you must always believe in yourself. Believe that you are worthy and you can do anything you set your mind to. And don’t compare yourself to anyone, you are living YOUR life and others’ lives should be of no concern to you.
Whenever you feel like giving up – remember your goals, remember that you are doing everything with reason, and continue pushing forward.






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