Categories
happiness

happy and successful 2016

The change of the year is only a randomly chosen number or a change of it to be exact. Nevertheless people like to stop at crossroads or signs to look back and think about the route ahead.

Same works with the new year. How did the last year go? What are the goals for the coming? We decide ourself wether our look back is a positive or a negative one. No matter how bad the last year was, it could have been even worse and no matter how good it was, it could have even been better. It is just a question of your point of view.

That lets me focus primarily on the good things of the last year. To be thankful that it happened to me. If I do, all the things that didn’t work out that well appear in a much brighter light and it is easier for me to see them as a hint for the future. What could i do better the next time. Grieve doesn’t help.

For the future I have tons of new ideas and sometimes its hard to me to keep the focus. If you know that, it might help to choose only one important thing to change or to achieve. That will help you to focus and it will increase the chances for success. Most of the times the clear focus on getting one single task done will change a lot of little things around your goal as well you’ll change so much more than you first thought.

So, focus on the positive and plan for one special achievement in 2016. The rest will follow. Good luck and all the best for 2016

Categories
happiness

worlds end – in ibo

Just the other week, I met Jörg, a person who gave me an answer to the question: what it means to do something for the first time. More than 10 years ago he left his good paying job in Germany, got on his bike and hit the road South. I met him on a remote island in South East Africa in an old, long forgotten Portuguese town, many call it a hidden secret in the Indian Ocean.

What, where, why? As you may have read in earlier posts, I am traveling in Africa for a bit. During the Tanzanian elections which could turn out to become a chaotic catastrophe for the country and Zanzibar in special (which is another story to write about), we headed South into Moçambique to get an impression of that beautiful land of hidden mysteries.
While coming from Europe and Morocco already seemed to be out of different time and space but Tanzania is even more so. Surprisingly there is another huge gap to Moçambique. A country which not only had to fight against colonial rule but also against apartheid influences from South Africa and Rhodesia. Those countries were giving its best to destabilize the country which let to decades of civil war. That war didn’t end before the nineties when the devastated country had to be rebuilt from scratch, most of the cities, villages, industry and colonial heritage lying in ruins.
After flying in to Pemba, we stayed for two days, being very surprised that nothing has changed over the last 4 years while decay seemed to be in even further progress now. We left with a local bus which, like all other busses in Mocambique and for no obvious reason had to leave at 4:30 in the morning. Even more frustrating than the need to be at the bus station so early was the fact that the first hours the bus was driving around the town to hopefully pick up some more passengers. Busses in Mocambique go without schedule and if you really need to be somewhere that day you better be there at 4:30 because you never know when they are full and actually leave. What followed was a five hour backcountry overland drive. Half the 120km on a tarmac road, the other half on dirt tracks. Only very few settlements with only few houses each laid on our way, the whole land being dry as a bone, all the trees leafless and no grass to be seen anywhere.
Finally we reached a little place at the ocean or lets say where the ocean was supposed to be. We arrived at low tide and except for water we only saw mangrove forrest, which was crucial for us since we wanted to catch a ferry. That meant to sit down and wait for the water. Our ferry was a local dow that was to be sailed to our destination, together with a motor bike and some other 30 people on board. The sea better be calm, I thought. After another hour on the boat we reached the little island of Ibo, part of the Quirimba island in Quirimba national park in Northern Moçambique. Ibo used to be the Portuguese capital of Northern Moçambique and was an important trading post on the Portuguese spice route. At least until the harbor and Capital was moved to Pemba. Afterward the world forgot about Ibo, I seems. A place full of ancient ruins, forts and houses among those. A sand covered main road, with sidewalks left and right, nonetheless. A piece of lost paradise, if you can find it.
Some of these ancient houses found a loving new owner who built themselves something out of ruins, literally.

And that is how I met Jörg.

Jörg who took his bike 12 years ago together with a friend of his and drove South. Through Balkan, Turkey, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania to Moçambique, later all the way to South Africa. The tour took them two year of traveling with some time spent at different places. On this route they discovered Ibo and while spending some time here, they saw complete Solar Eclipse and fall in love with this place. They knew they had to come back. Which they did, after completing their tour, having covered more than 12.000km by bike. Another two years later. They bought one of the completely destroyed ruins at the place. The one with the biggest trees around, two of them standing right in front of their house and they called it: Miti Miwiri http://www.mitimiwiri.com/n/ (two trees) or on facebook https://www.facebook.com/Miti-Miwiri-112186838817416/, nowadays one of the finest places in the area. It took them another two years to finally restore the building and have it up and running.
I guess that is how you break with all the conventions and just follow your heart. They didn’t do anything anymore, because they were expected to do so. All they did, they did only because they wanted to do it and on that road they found a passion and love to a place and decided to built something up. Still, friends and family called them nuts, now they go there for vacation. Sure, they had and have their hard times but they followed their heart and live their dream.

Do you have an inner calling? Listen to it!

Categories
happiness

creating routines

I wrote a blog article about creating routines in Zanzibar earlier this year. I wrote about my struggles finding my way back home while I was living in Stone Town for a month. Although I tried my best to take the same routes every single day, I got lost as soon as my mind was absent for a minute. Now I visited Stone Town again:

First thing to do after I got there was to go for a coffee in my favorite Café. It’s called Stone Town Café and is one of the very few places where you can find good fresh ground coffee on Zanzibar. Afterwards I went for the Dalladalla place to get a ride to Kizimkazi in South Zanzibar. That was one of the same routes I used to take in January and guess what. I did not get lost. In between people tried to tie me up in conversations about selling me… whatever… a trip to the moon and I kept on walking without paying attention and made my way without any doubt. At one point I woke up from daydreaming and was not so sure where I was. I decided to just keep walking until something looked familiar. Soon it did and I was exactly on track.
Funny that I would not get lost although I had no idea where I was. Somehow somewhere in my unconsciousness the way home was saved. On full automatic mode so to say.

I read and wrote a lot about creating habits and routines this year, but to experience on my own again how powerful habits can be left me speechless.
Scary on one hand to see that all the negative routines we accumulated throughout our lives are leading us that much. Good to know on the other hand that as soon as we change a routine to a positive one it can be as strong and as automated as the previous negative one.

Just keep in mind, it takes a constant daily routine of acting always the same on the same triggers. Scientists say, it takes from a week or two up to some months, to create enough new connections in your brain to create a new routine. In Stone Town it actually took me almost ten days although I was practicing to memorize the route several times per day. And I didn’t have to rewrite any old behavior.

If you have any behavior/routine that you want to get rid of, make yourself a good plan to manage the change. Remember you can’t just stop it. A routine is always triggered by something:
1. Find the trigger so you know what makes you start your behavior. Then you can become aware of it when the trigger happens. You will be able to foresee the undesired habit even before it happens.
2. Think of a new behavior that you would like to do when the trigger appears.
3. Make sure the desired behavior would be good for yourself and your future self (just ask yourself that question and you should think a very direct YES without any buts)
4. Bring yourself in a situation when the trigger appears and actively act with your new behavior. Test it several times so you know what to do.
5. If you fail when the trigger appears in real life, make sure you know you failed, go back to point 3.
6. Actively work on it for at least some weeks.
7. Do it daily!

Good luck and enjoy the better version of yourself.

Categories
happiness

secrets of happiness

Everybody is a bit weird!

Categories
happiness

natural building

Is it backward or forward thinking when you go back to construction techniques that are thousands of years old?

Categories
happiness

ups and downs of minimalism

Categories
happiness

stuff statistic

One of the most inspiring people blogging about simplicity and minimalism is Joshua Becker from Arizona. He recently published some statistics for the US that might be interesting for European readers as well since we have the same tendency. I am posting an excerpt of Joshuas list that was originally posted here.

  1. There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times).
  2. The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years (NPR).
  3. And still, 1 out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage—the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades. (New York Times Magazine).
  4. British research found that the average 10-year-old owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 daily (The Telegraph).
  5. 3.1% of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40% of the toys consumed globally (UCLA).
  6. The average American family spends $1,700 on clothes annually (Forbes).
  7. While the average American throws away 65 pounds of clothing per year (Huffington Post).
  8. American homes have more television sets than people. And those television sets are turned on for more than a third of the day—eight hours, 14 minutes (USA Today).
  9. Some reports indicate we consume twice as many material goods today as we did 50 years ago (The Story of Stuff).
  10. Currently, the 12 percent of the world’s population that lives in North America and Western Europe account for 60 percent of private consumption spending, while the one-third living in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 3.2 percent (Worldwatch Institute).
  11. Americans spend more on shoes, jewelry, and watches ($100 billion) than on higher education (Psychology Today).
  12. Shopping malls outnumber high schools. And 93% of teenage girls rank shopping as their favorite pastime (Affluenza).
  13. Women will spend more than eight years of their lives shopping (The Daily Mail).
  14. Over the course of our lifetime, we will spend a total of 3,680 hours or 153 days searching for misplaced items.The research found we lose up to nine items every day—or 198,743 in a lifetime. Phones, keys, sunglasses, and paperwork top the list (The Daily Mail).
  15. Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually on nonessential goods—in other words, items they do not need (The Wall Street Journal).

That I owned so much stuff over the last years is one part of the story, that I owned so much stuff I didn’t really need is the other. What about you?

Categories
happiness

BUD principle

I love to own things. In my past I always wanted to own everything that somehow seemed interesting to me. I sometimes still have the tendency to do that. Most of the times I nowadays realize that it is not important to me to own stuff, but to actually use stuff.

So more and more often, before buying I ask myself the following question: Do I have any other possibility to use what I am aiming to buy other actually buying it. Often I come up with an idea of trying it out for a few times and then letting go again. Sometimes it works just fine to share stuff with somebody else. Sometimes I buy already used stuff because, it will be used the same the minute I unbox it.
I also buy things that I now I will hand on to somebody else and/or I am going to resell. That would even be better when I already bought it used. That’s almost like sharing.

Sharing is the new owning!

But, you know… sometimes there are these things that I just want to have. I am sure I am going to use it every day. For me those things have to be according to the BUD principle.

BUD: beautiful – useful – durable

I love beautiful things. I want my things to be beautiful. If resources are used and people put their time into producing something that I will spend my money on it shall be worth the effort and be something beautiful.

I also don’t want to carry a burden with me either. Stuff I own has to be useful. There are definitely many beautiful things that are not useful to me. They might be useful to somebody else. If I can’t find a reason why they are useful to me, they are meant for somebody else.

I want it to be durable. Why? If something is not durable and basically produced for the trashcan I don’t I want to buy it. I don’t want to own garbage.

When you buy stuff at all, always remember BUD!

Categories
happiness

a new discovered freedom

the simplicity of happiness on swiss trails
A free day to me is a day in nature, in the mountains, on meadows, on my own feet with a rucksack on my back and depending on the season with trail or snowshoes on my feet and sticks in my hands.

Already days before, I think about that day. Where I will go, which mountain peak I am going to explore and which trail am I going to show my shoes that day. The anticipation is big and that very day my feet tingle in the morning… soon I will be up and running.
The scenery especially if there is good sight is breathtaking. The pure view enlightening and every change of perspective offers something new and thrilling for my eyes to see and my heart is yelling: I want to see this mountaintop and want to walk on that meadow.
Infinite freedom. Starting at the threshold of my home trails are passing and they lead me to others trail and those to even more.The trail network spans thousands of kilometers passing lakes and going along huge mountainranges. Unlimited possibilities for small trailruns, bigger trailruns, extensive hikes, and soo much more…
A paradise to me! And so simple – not much equipment needed, no big deal… but lots of space and time for me and us.

It can be so simple to find out, what makes you happy, but way too often, it’s just so difficult.

Categories
happiness

thankful for the moment

I just spent my last week in Sahara with the members of „sahara experience III“. My intention was and is to show others how different life can be. Even I forget, that everything I do in my life, I do by free choice. In almost every case I have the choice to do something different or to not do it at all. I just have to live with the consequences.

I focus on all the little things me and others keep complaining about. Situations that we would so much like to be different. I try to remind myself that it is still my own choice to react the way I want to.
What I keep forgetting though, is how much we managed to keep our world in its boundaries in the western world. We can barely imagine a power cut, not to talk about anything severe. In my everyday life, the worst thinghappening to me is that I lose my internet connection. I rarely think about other people on this planet, who don’t live in such a technological world and how they have to deal with the powers of nature.
After we arrived in M’Hamid, a week ago, the sun was still shining and then the weather turned slowly into a heavy sandstorm that day. I still thought that this was a one day sandstorm that will disappear again after some hours and well, fortunately it did.
Unfortunately it came back every day with one big difference. From the following morning on we were in the desert and headed directly into the direction the wind (and all the sand) came from. I had a feeling that I normally don’t have. I was helpless. I hated the sand in my eyes, I hated the sand in my nose, I hated the sand in my lungs. All I wanted to do was hide from it, but I couldn’t. I had to move against it. Resting didn’t really help either. Preparing food was like playing in the sand. In the night the sandstorm slowed down, to come back every now and then leaving loads of sand in my sleeping bag. Even when I woke up, I was chewing on sand. Nothing helped but to become stoic. Just keep on moving and hope for the storm to settle down. On the evening of the third day it settled down. The sky cleared up and we had the first night with stars shining. In the end, we had a remarkable experience and could enjoy the clear nights with music around the fire even more. We knew that it wasn’t for granted.
I suppose this is the way the world goes round. It’s not always and everywhere sunshine. Sometimes problems occur and you have to go through hard times. It doesn’t help to hide from your problems. That won’t make them better. The only way to deal with them is to face them and work your way through. Once they lie behind you, it is even nicer to enjoy the smooth times. You deserve it because you made it through and that feels good.
If you manage to think about that, you will live a happier life.
I hope, that, when everything runs smooth for me, I will always remember not to take that for granted and that I’ll always be thankful for the moment.
Now I am enjoying Taghazout in Morocco for one week. No sandstorm and nowhere to walk. Just time to relax, organize, plan ahead and write.
I am thankful to be here.