happiness is not getting what you want

“That moment when you see a photo, without even reading the location tag, you know exactly where it is. You find yourself smiling for the first time in a month and all that stress magically disappears.”

So yes, without a doubt, that’s exactly what happened when I saw the feature photo of this post. I knew exactly where it was without question. And I knew that I was due for a return trip. Really.

However, I like to think I’m less reckless than before.

As I’ve summarized, the work over here while my heart is over there strategy doesn’t work…neither does the work over here and visit once, twice, or even three times a year. The more I think about it, the more I realize I need a different strategy, one that is sustainable in the long-run. Because, let’s face it, as wonderful as the city is, Amsterdam is notoriously expensive. Most of the friends I have in the Netherlands either live somewhere outside of the city centre itself, or in a different city altogether.

Amsterdam is a city for tourists.

I’d remembered my Dutch professor once mention, “to get a real feel of the Netherlands, one must venture outside of Amsterdam, in order get a real taste of Dutch culture.”

And that’s exactly what I did in December. I stayed in Utrecht, instead of Amsterdam, and was pleasantly surprised. It was very different from the capital that never sleeps.

So then, the question becomes, what sort of experience am I trying to create, what sort of life am I trying to cultivate – then it becomes a question of ‘lifestyle’ rather than about ‘Amsterdam’ – what is it about the city that makes me want to go back every single time I’m idle enough to daydream.

And this made me think.

“Amsterdam is not merely a place, it’s a symbol of freedom, symbol of things I seek. There’s always open doors and opportunities for you to explore, things for you to enjoy. It’s in that environment you want to explore, cultivate relationships and meaning.”

Then now on happiness.

“Happiness is not getting what you want, but rather coming up with a functional strategy on how to support your long term goals, regardless where that might be.”



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