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Stare at a Sunset Every Once in a While

Why are you feeling so down? What is it that keeps you from closing your eyes at night and calming your heart? Why do you do this to yourself? What is missing in your life? Unfortunately, I know and you know that we can answer all of those questions in numerous ways. We always have a reason even if it were unreasonable to feel so. Yet we bulk up on our emotions and we lock them in, our thoughts stand as guards for our solemn eyes and faces, and we crack crescent smiles to make believe that our secrets are safe for keeping.

I am here to tell you to let it all the hell out. Let the flood happen and let the feelings flow from the tops of your head to the tips of your feet. Let it go where it needs to but then let it out; open the biggest door possible, unhinge the gates and release the guards and offer your thoughts an EXIT. A clear one and a healthy one. Do not judge and do not blame yourself and others, imagine a locker filled with air balls that just gets unlocked; let them bounce out.

You deserve the release!

Unleash the wildest thoughts and let your most beautiful ones take over. Life is too long to be lived unhappily. Think of the hours upon hours that you can live with passion and excitement. Think of how good it can get, and just allow it.

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Sexless Millennials and Their Pursuit of Joy

Now that we’ve talked a lot about happiness, let’s talk about sex.

A lot of the stories about sex whether real or made up were/are told by men. What our mothers, sisters and girlfriends tell us tends to sound different; perhaps even completely unrelated to the stories we hear from the guys. You grow to discover that something as universal as consensual sex is also absolutely subjective.

Is sex magical or is it a mechanical act that simply allows us to enjoy procreation? Is sex influenced by porn and people’s imaginations or is it the other way around? A person might look absolutely dreamy, super seductive and quite open for a sexual interaction; come showtime and the experience is subpar. A person might seem quite closed-off sexually, socially and emotionally but the flood gates open once the opportunity presents itself with the right person. POINT being; we are judgmental and needy, we have a streak of hunger for the fantastic but at different points end up being mediocre ourselves; or are confronted with an ordinary experience that leaves us questioning.

I casually asked some friends what they would prefer to read about and I got an overwhelming response that they want to read about happiness and sex. Poor me, I had to muster the brain power, energy and material to write about happiness for a while only to find that life could be as simple as we choose it to be or irreverently complex if we allow it to. Then came sex, something generally alluded to in almost every aspect of our waking life but that people actively avoid talking about.

My angle? Well, perhaps it’s about trying to keep it real for you and I, and all the concerned parties. Talking about sex requires digging into its conjoined twin Intimacy. Not having the greatest relationship with your partner? check your intimate experience first. But then again, you have a lot of things you also need to check.

Apparently millennials (contrary to what social media is showing you) are having significantly less sex than older generations. Just Google sexless millennials and skim through the 95K results. It doesn’t make a big difference if single or in relationships as well. Reasons vary, like overstimulation by our modern lives where we don’t even need to leave our houses to receive entertainment, think Netflix, computer games, social media and surely porn at everyone’s finger tips. So surely the less we interact with people the less we are conscious of the value of high quality interactions whether professional, emotional or sexual. Others argue that decreasing sex comes from higher standards, and more sex positive conversations especially for women and LGBTQ communities, where people are more aware of consent and mutually pleasant experiences; essentially we are no longer settling for less than optimal experiences.

Where does that leave us on the happiness scale?

It matters how you choose to perceive your life and the interactions you make with people. We can choose to succumb to the numbers and tell our selves that everyone is lonely, anxious and sexless anyway so why bother. OR, we could understand that we are the drivers of our lives, we can either choose to fix problems or shove them under that IKEA table. We can choose to be honest with ourselves and with our partners about our needs, both the ordinary ones and the fantastic ones.

Life is OKAY if you let it be so, and work with what you have; or it could be a disaster if you feel completely helpless. Sex is not a stand alone feature in our lives, just like happiness, it’s all about attitude, energy and the will to improve our lives. So are we really a generation who wants to make an effort for one another? Or are we happy with keeping our distance and accepting everyone as long as they don’t see us naked?

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Are You Happy or Are You Fooling Yourself?

Who doesn’t want to be happy? If you answered “ME” to this question, please refrain from reading on; this post will lead to unnecessary feelings that might indirectly take you to a happier state. Consider yourself warned; your darkness is much appreciated for contrast purposes, and still welcome here.

Let’s get straight to it shall we; consider the following two quotes first:

“All happiness is of a negative rather than positive nature, and for this reason cannot give lasting satisfaction and gratification, but rather only ever a release from a pain or lack, which must be followed either by a new pain or by languor, empty yearning and boredom.”

Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation

“When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his suffering as his task; his single and unique task. He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is alone and unique in the universe. No one can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.”

Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Perhaps both quotes tickled you the wrong way, but both help us see something very interesting in the historical pursuit of happiness; mainly that suffering exists in life and it takes so many forms. What one person perceives as a punishment or an exercise in suffering, another person considers normal or acceptable.

So we all suffer, and we all perceive it differently; so how is it possible to perceive happiness as the same for all?

Frankl goes on to dissect positive happiness vs negative happiness, the latter being freedom from pain or of suffering. Positive happiness then becomes a very personal experience, almost a spiritual one.

TOO MUCH PHILOSOPHY TALK AND YOU WANT TO GET TO IT?

Happiness should not look the same for every one, the same way that suffering is unique to each person. So are you happy based on your standards of that? OR are you happy because people tell you that you should be, or have no reason not be? We often experience life so differently within the same moment, and time frame, yet we expect that there should be one story that binds us all together. We expect a streamlined idea of life, one that everyone buys into; and that’s not a recipe for happiness.

How is it possible for people to be in the midst of suffering, and still experience joy? It is then easy to see that those who have discovered internal happiness, no longer seek it by removing themselves from pain or boredom or suffering as a whole.

It sometimes takes us forever to understand what really matters to us despite the suffering, and sometimes all it takes is a split second for us to truly see how happy we are where no comparisons are needed.

So are you happy because you know what happiness means to you, what it entails and what it refuses?

Or are you fooling yourself out of the experience and joining into the suggested story of happiness that people, movies and songs tell?

Worth a thought.

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The Balinese Manicurist

Do you ever feel like you want to quit your job, leave everything and go to a new country? Do you ever think about that as a possibility, a hope or a dream? You may think that only those who have something missing in their lives might have such thoughts, perhaps even just those of us who simply want more no matter what? The truth is that no matter how hard we try, we are all tracing our fingers around the rims of doubt in life. We always look to the other side and think that it might be better. So we catch ourselves wondering “what if” somedays. Wonder is healthy, when it allows us to grow within who we are and what we can be; on the other hand, avoiding wonder all together might be a recipe for growing too attached to the status quo with a toxic submission to life as though we are its victims. There is a balance and the key is to learn how to navigate that.

Balance comes in various forms, that match how we choose to live. Wanting to change our lives requires a lot of work, it also requires an understanding. Some of us acknowledge that rim, we understand that ledge of doubtful oblivion and how too much doubt can lead to the destruction of our lives rather than improvement. So we teach ourselves to be grateful for what we have.

We have a good tendency to take for granted the blessings in our lives. Looking out of the windows too long makes us forget about the house we live in.

Decisions we make become our lives, and the houses we build become our homes. Essentially what we prioritize is what we live for and there is nothing wrong with that. So if you list your priorities right now, do they match your life? Consider this:

A Balinese manicurist wishes she could leave. She wants to travel to work in Turkey. I asked her “Are you happy in Bali?”, she said “Yes, but I don’t have money.”

In Turkey she will have money, that’s what her friend who already works there told her. She pauses, her smile still wide on her face, “but there’s something else, my friend, she cry every night on telephone, tells us I miss this, I miss that! But she makes money.” I smiled and looked back at her, “So here in Bali you can have happiness but not money, and there you will have money but no happiness.” “That’s right!”, she responds still laughing. She then sends me a look, “Unless I meet people like you everyday, then I will be OK; I can make extra money with more people.”

Maybe happiness is talking about not having money with a smile on your face, it is the ability to laugh despite your struggle, and deciding to figure it out no matter how difficult it might be.

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Can your skin reflect light?

How is it easier for us to rationalize unhappiness than it is to create joy?

This question has been on my mind lately, mostly because of the melancholy that comes and goes into my space for numerous reasons. There are silly reasons and existential ones, and true ones and fake ones. You know when you just have too many reasons, and your brain begins flooding itself in untruth, in logical acceptance that growing up entails all of the above, and getting a grip on life means losing a grip on personal pleasure.

Life is hard, and the struggle remains where it is, ready for whoever seeks it, runs away from it, fears it and embraces it. We can stay there in that space, in that world. We can all develop sore souls and carpel tunnel fingers. We can all be there together; or that is what I truly feared most.

The fear that your days would blend into one elongated life were you sat behind a desk and typed. The fear that your relationship with your significant other had a limited life span and it was bound to implode. The fear that just because people agreed that we all must live in a certain way, then you too must conform. People “grow out” of those thoughts, that’s what is generally accepted. People “accept the pain” and carry on. People begin to live in bumper sticker logic and it becomes awfully sad to watch them do it.

How do you process your life and the lies it entails?

Photo by Julia Kuzenkov on Pexels.com

Imagine being a tree in a pot. A tree exists to live and to grow, in the same with humans. But our human experience disillusions us into despising growing older, but still wants us to grow up. So how do you make peace with growing only as much as your pot allows you to? Not a centimeter more because that would mean unhappiness and thirst. What would happen if your tree gets moved into earth, with no limits to its growth? It begins to reflect unapologetic life.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Look, I know there is a reason for my relentless need for growth and change and evolution. A therapist once explained to me- and therapists like to know best- that that was my brain’s way of responding to anxiety. So it is where I, and you, if you feel the same begin; exactly at the end. We begin at the end of things and move backwards to determine whether the life we are living will reflect light. We do not close our eyes and press the gas. For some reason our bumper stickers keep falling off.

So how do you know if your life reflects light?

Well, it begins with you. If I were to tell you that you will live your life like this exactly everyday, would you like that? Would it be a reflection of light onto yourself and those who cross your path?

The brave ones dive into the fear of failure, and the fear of not being loved, and the fear of being rejected and misunderstood. We are all frail bodies but do not underestimate the power of a well fed soul, a soul that overpowers the brain, a soul that can speak to you and guide you, where you just need to follow. Do not overestimate the power of logic. Our brains are beautiful tools but they are servants and not masters. Our brains allow us to create wonderful thoughts, plans and tricks to serve the purpose of our souls. So why not press a little softer on your heart and quiet down your brain and just create the safe space for your timid child soul to walk out.

Growing older does not mean we must break the locks and toughen up. Growing older is life manifesting itself in our skin and in our hair, but it has no qualms with our child soul.

It is NEVER too late; take that bumper sticker and paste it over your bed.

So if you seek peace in a glass of wine, or in the arms of strangers, if you spell your name and feel an immense weight glued to it, be gentler to yourself. And to be gentle we must stop and come to a complete halt of thought.

In that halt, we must go inside ourselves and discover what we have been burying in the dark. So we breathe and we might shed a few tears, we forgive and re rack our weights. We do this a few more times, and say thanks for all our blessings, and then slowly get back up. We imagine pushing a heavy rock down over a ledge as we walk away lighter and surely brighter.

That my friends, is how we reflect light.


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Let the happy bubbles burst

I like to think of myself as a happy person. I like to think that people perceive me as such; well because I learned at a very young age that nobody liked misery- so my happiness persona was a reaction to that lesson.

If I wanted people to like me, I had to be happy. Except, this with time became a problem because I started hiding when I wasn’t happy. I created a rule that was, for the most part, a sham; a very distrustful feeling eventually was nurtured within me; simply because I never exposed myself as the “real” me, only exposed the happy persona- The perpetual smiler.

I am not writing this to advocate it, but I am writing this for you dear reader who identifies with the perpetual smiler syndrome (one I have just made up). I envy the outright angry, the people who do not owe the world a happy face, not because they make us feel better, on the contrary sometimes they ruin our damn days- but I suppose they just don’t worry about being liked as much.

As I grow wiser ( LOL- I know) but no really, the more insight I gain into myself, I learn that seeking approval is a juvenile experience, one that does not serve a higher purpose but merely allows us a shallow sense of belonging, a sense of acceptance; which is why we change our appearance, our dialects, our fashion and our minds a million times until we completely lose touch of who we really are, and feel only slightly closer to the group. It seems that things get hazy with time, we start identifying with our behaviors, we become the things that we practice mindlessly. Despite the nuances within this concept of being, one cannot let go and just become what life, thoughts, people and struggle want us to become. We need to know where to resist and where to let go.

The perpetual smiler, the always beautiful, the never wrong, the extremely generous and kind are all in it together along with everyone else with their twitches, tweaks, and squeezes. The persona bubbles all sit together and play their parts, losing sight, missing cues and floating into an oblivious manner of living.

The point, if you read nothing but this paragraph, and if you are looking for a sign is this: YOU DON’T HAVE TO. You can burst through the lies, one bubble at a time. You can start easily.

We don’t have to be “this” or “that”. We don’t have to play the part. Besides, there is so much beauty in practicing being ourselves, so who would that be? What do we look like then? and there we can decide whether we really identify with certain parts and whether we really want to play them. Then we are free; because everything becomes a choice- that is the key.

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On a scale from 1 to pain, how bad are you at love?

One major foundation to my character is my ability to love and be loved in return, I can’t tell you enough how much I love love, except I am not your text-book romantic. I tend to forget “important dates”, and care a little less than my friends and family think I should about the traditional roles of a female in a heterosexual relationship [Que the unnecessary words that usually follow such statement].

Hold on, this needs a cup of coffee, I can tell its going to be good, not just for me but you too.

What if I tell you that I am training myself to be better at love? What if I tell you that you could also teach people how to love you better?

If you knew that already, then really you might as well not continue reading, I don’t want to waste your time. [This statement comes from a place of love without attachment-yes i went there, I love you enough to not waste your time]

I am not just talking about love for my fiance, but love for my parents, my family, my friends, my cat, strangers and the world in general; there is a certain subconscious order to the list I suppose. The point is, I thought that I was locked into a certain pattern of intrinsic and acquired emotional baggage, I thought that was it. To my tragic surprise, I could learn to be better, and to have higher respect for the process of unlearning almost everything I knew about love, and loving.

I doubt that we recognize that a lot of our acquired concepts and ideas about love come from books, movies, and stories that we hear, we almost rarely weigh it upon ourselves. Not our egos, and what we would like our love to look like, but our deepest needs and attempts to feeling like we are unique and unsubstitutable cornerstones of someone’s life. How freeing is the concept of loving beyond understanding, beyond attachment and ownership, beyond need and lust? What if you are able to completely see the other person not in their utility but in their own existential value?

I suppose the notion might sound somewhat naive to some, maybe even foreign in our current day and age when people’s utility has been marked painstakingly high. Try to go along with this:

It starts with you, it always does.

Many have toyed with romantic love that eventually and surprisingly leaves them consumed, it leaves them wondering who they were in the beginning and what they have come to be after time has passed.

Shallow love is coupled with a certain melancholy. It holds love’s hand a little tighter every step further down the road to self mutation. Shallow love lets you believe that you have merged with the person you love until you discover that there is so much left to deal with. You start throwing your “stuff” at said partner, hoping that they know what to do with them, sort them out, categorize them and make sense of them, while simultaneously they throw their stuff at you. Shallow love looks normal and reciprocal when you are taking part in it, well because it is to some extent. Yet, it strangely leaves you hurting. All that hurt is then quieted down by the power of social influence, when movies, stories, books and people tell you its OK, love hurts. And then you see a picture on Instagram of two people parading a seemingly beautifully drawn loving relationship. And you are confused, and unsure what the truth really is. Am I happy? or am I unhappy? PAUSE HERE

This is your thread, grab it.

What does happiness look like to you? What does love mean to you? Is your partner your emotional errands boy/girl, do they fill some deep holes drilled in you by other people who have crossed your path? Are they capable of making you happy? Are you capable of making yourself happy?

Some of the questions you will ask yourself will suddenly become scary as though you are getting closer to a ledge, so you start holding onto the stories you are used to telling yourself and each other. Except, how much love will you have for yourself without the stories, without the partner, without all your stuff, and your comfort possessions? Do you forgive yourself, and learn from your mistakes? Do you believe in your abilities and your capacities as a human being? Do you do unto others as you would like to be done to you?

The Keys

Training yourself how to love begins with acceptance, it begins with anticipating the negative thoughts and the emotions that tag along, and having the right comfortable accommodation for them. Self love is mind, body, heart and soul combined in taking responsibility and remaining accountable for the life you live. Learning how to love yourself and others requires compassion and a small dose of faith mixed with heaps of courage and warrior worthy decision making skills.

Learning how to love will not only reflect on your face, but on the life you live. Your ability to love will act like a sun, you have no idea how bright you will burn, but you will spread without bias and foster gorgeous forests, and shine on weeds as well. Immense power exists in choosing to love better, and allowing it to yourself in your short life span will be the best thing you ever do for yourself and everyone else. Misery in its usual form is a sign of apathy, a lack of appreciation to all the possibilities that life might hold. Misery is lazy and easy, love isn’t.

My cup of coffee has gone cold, and my word count has surmounted what I had in mind, so I will leave my two cents on teaching others how to love you better for another post.

With Love,

Nour