Thursday, September 4, 2014

How To Be Happy

Class!  Class!!  Settle down now.  And Megan, get back in your seat.

I'm going to let you in on a secret.  A secret to happiness in life.

I'm older than you.  In the five decades I've been around, I've picked up some wisdom.  When I apply that wisdom to my current life, I find it works.  Let me share a nugget with you.

We hold the keys to our happiness.  We make multiple choices, many of which directly affect the amount of joy in our existence.  Often we make bad choices, with unfortunate consequences, because we mis-prioritize things.  For example, sometimes we foolishly value convenience over experience, money over friendship.

I've learned -- and scientific research backs this up -- that having friends is critical to happiness.  Friends supply us with emotional support and a sense of belonging.  When we're young, we have ready friends because school puts us in close proximity to others.  But after we leave school, that proximity disappears and it's easy, in fact it's normal, to lose our friends.  We go to work, go home, go to work, go home -- a recipe for isolation and loneliness.  Sure we may have a partner but one person cannot meet all our needs.  Especially our same-sex needs, like the ability and willingness to chat about clothes, makeup and gossip.

Recognizing this, I made a deliberate effort to add more friends to my life.  And it's worked.  The effort began with my search for online ways to connect to promising people.  I found blogging.  Before 2010, I didn't even know what blogs were.  Now they're an integral part of my life.  Through blogging, I've met dozens of lovely people, some of whom have become close friends.

One of these friends is Ashley.  Ashley had a blog and we chatted regularly for several years.  She retired her blog but we keep in touch.  She's available through Twitter and Facebook -- and the occasional handmade card in the mail.  I cherish those.

I've raved about Ashley several times here, including recently when I praised her funny story about shopping for Missoni clothes at Target.

Some people are unwilling to travel to meet others.  I don't understand that.  If someone is important to you, don't you want to deepen your friendship?  Meeting someone in person is A BIG DEAL because it tells you stuff you'll never get through online communication.  Like how tall they are (Gracey), what their accent sounds like (Lynne), how nice they are (Lorena), the depth of their intelligence (Michi), how stylishly they dress (Megan) and their sense of humor (Meghan).

I live in New York but am willing to travel to see friends.  It's a question of priorities.  Sure, it's difficult to find spare time (I'll bet my work-calendar is more crowded than yours) and, like everyone else, I need to watch my spending.  But I accord this a HIGH priority.  Which,  to me, is not only rational, it's smart.

This Summer, I rode my motorcycle five hours upstate to meet Aimee and it was delightful.  We shared fun experiences.  I'll remember that weekend forever.

So when Ashley tweeted that she's having a Halloween party, I considered going out to meet her.  Which is a fairly big deal because Ashley lives in Minnesota.  I don't even know where that is!  But I know they have these big metal tubes that fly through the sky and can carry you anywhere.

Going to a Halloween party at Ashley's is guaranteed fun.  Halloween!  Costumes, games, excitement!  I'm actually trembling with eager anticipation.

After finagling an invitation to the party, I committed to going.  Next month, I'm jumping on a jet-plane and flying to a new place to meet a new friend whom I've never seen before.

That's our lesson for today.  Savor friends.  Order your priorities to make time for them.  Class dismissed.

Have you ever travelled far to meet a friend?

47 comments:

  1. This is great (except the two pictures of myself. I literally had my hands up covering the screen while reading to block out my face. Apparently, I've became modest since I stopped blogging!). And I am excited. Super excited.

    I've had friends states away before, and I regret not going to see them. In many cases, the opportunity becomes lost if you wait too long. But even if something puts you out of your comfort zone, 9 times out of 10, it turns out to be a great experience, and 10 times out of 10, it's something you'll never forget.

    P.S. I'm going to wear heels so you don't realize I'm only 5'2".

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    1. You're only 5'2"?!! I thought you were six feet tall!!

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  2. You are awesome :)
    I am planning to go to Ontario, Canada to meet a friend next year!

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  3. I think this is awesome. Fantastic even.

    I've started doing this a bit more this year too. Part of it was because both my husband and I were so ill last year it changed my perspective on things. I went to The Netherlands last month and met 3 wonderful women that I've connected with through blogging. It was so much better than I could have ever imagined. I've also met another blogger out in BC, on the other side of Canada and it turned out wonderful as well. No regrets at all.

    This is actually why I continue to blog. I get a chance to connect with so many unique souls. It really is magical.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  4. totally agree that friends are integral to happiness. before kids, i did lots of travelling to see friends. greatest experiences ever! this meet up sounds exciting! my sister's boyfriend is from minnesota, so they go up every other year for christmas. i've never been. take lots of pictures!!!~

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    1. I hear they have snow all year long. I believe Ashley lives in an igloo. :-)

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  5. So true! It's so much fun to meet blog friends in real life. Look us up while you are in MN, if you please! We'd love to meet you!

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  6. If you're seriously coming to MN I have to find a way to meet up!! I'm about two hours away from Ashley (whom I also have yet to meet but I have always wanted to) but for real if you're going to be in my state there will be a way for us to meet and I can buy you a beer or three - how else could I thank you for your kindness over the years?? Will you fly direct to Duluth?

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    1. If you can find a way, you should head up for my party!

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    2. Ashley invited you -- you should come! If you can't, I'll search for a way to see you. I mean, how often am I going to be in MN?!

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  7. I LOVE attending Miss Ally's life lesson classes!!!

    All jokes aside ... You are totally right ~ I really enjoyed your post and you are so good with keeping in touch with people and making a point of getting to meet your blogger friends. Would love you to come and visit Wendy and me but that is a HUGE budgeting exercise!!!

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  8. I STUPIDLY replied to Ashley's comment before clicking publish on the long ass comment I had written out here. Anyway, in short, I've created this incredible community of friends online since I started blogging/Etsy-ing/tweeting several years ago. Last October, I flew to Chicago to visit a friend. It's really the most incredible thing that I think only people who half live their lives on the internet can understand.

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  9. Great post. I truly admire your dedication to reaching out and meeting others, it takes a lot of guts. Especially for those with shy dispositions.

    I hope to be able to eventually do the same.

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  10. I went to Austria last year to see one of my best friends, despite it being a completely foreign country to me and going there alone. Was worth it

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  11. Nice post. I was a follower of Ashley's blog and wondered what had become of her, good to read she's okay. I hope you have a great time visiting her too.

    I followed the recipe you refer to, isolation and loneliness which is mostly self inflicted if I'm truthful. I am a quiet and reserved character and given my nature it was by pure chance I met my wife.

    I look forward to reading about your visit to Ashley, give her my kind regards.

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    1. Lotte, I'm not sure but I think it was through Ashley that you and I met. I believe she suggested to me that I check out your blog.

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  12. Friendships are so important. I recently traveled a couple hours to visit a friend for her baby shower. I think it's such a beautiful thing that you travel and fly to meet and visit with your friends! That's the loveliest thing, I think.

    PS - the ear cuff came as a set! I think it was meant to have both worn at the same time, but I decided one at a time works best!

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    1. Both worn at the same time is way overkill. Plus, I love the asymmetry of wearing one.

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  13. I really liked this post and I agree with you that friends are vital to a healthy, whole life. I like the way you put that.

    Being your age, or older perhaps, I still lament the fact that making friends in "real life", not blogging, has become so difficult. I know more people on-line than I do in my own surroundings.

    Hope you enjoy your trip to Minnesota. BTW, it's west and north of NYC!

    :=)

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    1. I agree that it's harder as we get older, but I'm resisting the drawbacks of aging. West, you say... like near Hawaii??

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    2. Naw! Put the brakes on just before Chicago! LOL

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  14. You're the bestest! I'm a bit jealous of your Halloween plans (it's my favourite holiday). Sounds super fun!

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  15. Oh you are SO right Ally!!! Somethibg I used to be SO good at but just fail at in recent times!!! It really does make a difference when we do this!!! Should you ever come to London, let me know! X

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  16. I really love this post! I absolutely adore ashley too, I used to read her blog all the time! how exciting that you'll get to meet up with her in person soon! can't wait to see pics xx

    Thrive on Novelty

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    1. The legion of fans of Ashley's former-blog could fill an arena!

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  17. The party sounds like it's going to be fuuuun!

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  18. I'll be impressed if you show up to Vancouver Island for my Winter Solstice party! You are officially invited. This is a great post and I know just what you mean about the changes in friends over the years as our lives change and how blogging is an amazing way to make new friends. I would like to add to your lesson. As much as we must be prepared to meet and make new friends we have to also be prepared to let some old ones go. It can be difficult and painful. Sometimes we need only loosen our grip and not let go completely.

    I hope you are having a lovely weekend!
    xoxo

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    1. Having life-experience, I know what you're saying and you're right.

      I'd enjoy seeing you, Shawna. I could also include a side-trip to Sheila while out there.

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    2. only a three hour drive between Sheila and myself!

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  19. I'm not a traveller by nature (honestly, I get carsick, seasick, and I'm pretty sure my inner ears would burst on a plane), and I'm constantly forgetting everything or trying to bring the whole house with me. Not that I'm high maintenance, I'm just really a homebody.

    However there are LOADS of people I want to meet. I'm just waiting for my paychecks to last me a little more each week. I'm definitely paying out a lot more for medical/dental expenses at the moment, but I'm hoping for a little vacation next year to Philly if possible!

    Fingers crossed big time.

    But as for general happiness, it definitely takes a conscious decision to BE happy. It's easy to take everything negative, but sometimes you gotta just search for the little and big things that make you happy and tell yourself the other stuff isn't that big of a deal.

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  20. Oh man...so much love in this post. Yes, friendships are helpful and essential to our happiness! Thank you for sharing (and proving) this. I've recently opened up a personal Facebook account after taking a 4 or 5 year break from it. I've reconnected and met up with some old friends...I'm loving it <3

    I'm looking through all your posts and it makes me excited. I haven't been blogging at all very much....so I kind of feel like it's Christmas with all these presents (oh, I mean blog posts) from you! :)

    And I don't think I've travelled very far to meet a new friend. Maybe 30 minutes to an hour. I've never though about it before. But now you make me want to reach out to others that I've connected with online.

    xoxoxo

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  21. Oh thank you for the shout out Ally :)
    And answering your question, I have made extra efforts to meet people that I have "met" otherwise than in person. You are one of them and a pen pal from my teens in Mexico whom I met a few years ago. Both times it was amazing.

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  22. What a beautifully written post! I agree, it is hard to make friends as an adult! I really am so happy that you are able to meet so many of your blogging friends, I have made it a necessity to meet the bloggers in my area. I am still friends with several who don't even blog anymore! I really hope that you can come to MI someday and hangout with Kyle and myself. I wouldn't even know where to take you first, but I think it would be fun! I also want to go to New York really bad. After looking at our finances, I think we can pay a chunk off with our tax returns, and then plan a trip your way in the Spring. We have friends who live out there, and I have a few blogger friends who I would love to meet. ONE DAY. We will make this happen! I can't wait to see what your halloween costume will be!

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  23. Excellent, wisely written post, dear Ally. It is so profoundly true that we have the ability to be happy if we only chose it. I'm not saying that there aren't legitimate reasons why happiness may elude us at times (from genuine depression to a great personal loss to simply having a blue day), but if we wake up each more and consciously tell ourselves to embrace happiness, to focus on the good in this world, and to celebrate the blessings, not bemoan the shortcomings (too much at least ;)), we have already opened a door through which good things are that much more likely to enter and thus multiply our bliss further. I've been doing this since I was a little girl and honestly believe it has been instrumental to helping me in countless ways, especially since becoming chronically ill twelve years ago.

    Have an amazing time at the Halloween party!

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. Yup. It's why you're one of my heroes.

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  24. So glad you and Ashley will get to hang out! How exciting for BOTH of you! I'm sure you will have loads of fun. Eagerly awaiting my own turn that we've been talking about forever...I know it will happen at the right time! <3

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    1. You're next on my list, so get ready!

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  25. This is a lovely post. Yes, I have travelled far far away to meet up with a friend. I think it's wonderful that you are able to meet with your blogging friend, that's very special. The connections we make through blogging sometimes is just priceless. :)
    /Madison

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  26. What a beautiful post! I travel a lot to see my friends, they live in London, Lithuania, France, the US, Ghana and other countries, those living in Germany live in other cities and I actually only have two good friends in the city I live in. I love to go for a weekend to another city to meet the people I love and I think this is worth much more than to have a bunch of people which you do not love 100% around you all the time.

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  27. that's so true! happy for you seeing Ashley - I remember her from blogging times of hers and still miss her witty and sweet posts. and Halloween is always a blast! congrats!

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