What’s the Deal with Happiness?

Well, this post is not confined to Turkey (although the picture was taken in Turkey)20150417_171542, far from being a delight but certainly reminiscent of a bazaar. Labyrinthine, with countless possible outcomes. Just like the future, or the present, and even the past, having as many versions as witnesses and even more. My inner voice was awakened after a long “holiday” fully loaded with deadlines, articles, conferences, lectures, research, shouting desperately: “Sit down and think. Deep. And understand.” It started with 2016 (honestly speaking around 11 p.m, before New Years’s Eve). I was preparing my “Wishlist” for 2016. Done it. Concrete and clear goals related to my professional life, including deadlines (yes, again). And more abstract wishes related to my personal life. Among other “things”, I wished for happiness.

The thing is, happiness is not a “thing”, although many people confuse it or replace it with things. Happiness is a very subjective feeling, which according to the “happiness theories” is triggered not by external conditions, but is a personal choice. I agree, it is a personal choice to see the glass half full instead of half empty, but what if your glass is empty or has only a few drops? Well, you can still choose to see emptiness as an opportunity to fill it with your favorite beverage…  If happiness is not a thing, nor other external condition which we cannot control, how comes that when asked about our happy moments we generally name things, persons or situations that made us happy in a certain time of our life? This sounds like a contradiction… Yet, the theory is supported by our failure to relive the feeling as we remember it by recreating those very specific moments, actions, buying stuff or experiences, being around the persons who made us feel happy and good about ourselves in the past.

If something made you feel good once, it should have the same effect over and over again, right? So, what are we doing wrong? We grow. And in the meantime, our needs and means to meet them develop. Consequently, our happiness is periodically upgraded, reaching higher and higher levels and goals,  sometimes impossible or too difficult to achieve. In other words, pursuing happiness can sap all of our energy, strength, resources and … happiness. When our “happiness goal” is to high and painful to achieve we must reset your “system” and get back to the basics. Back to simple things, back to unconditional joy, love, friendship. Back to compassion and gratitude. Back to saying thank you and I love you to those who we care about. Back to admiring the sunset, the snowflakes, the clouds, the play of sun rays and shadows, listening to the sound of rain. Back to playing with pets. Back to listening to our favorite songs, dancing while cleaning up. Back to hugging our family members, talking to our grandparents, calling our friends. Back to wandering and “losing” precious time only with ourselves. Back to dreaming with our eyes wide open.

As Einstein said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Can you define your happiness? What elevates your spirit? What makes you smile with all your heart? What makes you feel grateful? And last but not least, who you are? or better said, Who do you choose to be and what do you choose to make you happy? 

“Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.”-Mevlana (Rumi). You have all the answers, all the tools needed to discover and understand yourself, even though you were not provided with an instruction manual. And no one will write one to fit you perfectly. You are the only person responsible for your feelings, even though it might seem harsh and unfair (Everything is easier when there’s a scapegoat). Don’t get me wrong, you are not responsible for others disappointing you, but you are responsible for giving them the opportunity to do it again and again. There is nothing wrong with happiness. It does not avoid you, nor is it reserved for some privileged persons, or limited. And there is nothing wrong with feeling blue sometimes. You need to let your feelings flow out, whether they are positive-in order to reach others and make them feel good, happy, grateful too- or negative in order to ease your mind and soul, to empty yourself from harmful emotions. Stop searching frenetically for happiness and no matter how awful you feel recall all those things you are grateful for, insist on them and don’t give up unless you succeed to change your mood. In your relation with others stop expecting without asking clearly what you wish for. Communicate and practice empathy. But never forget, you deserve the best. And you can have it.

P.S. It just started to snow. 🙂

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Why Turkey?

Elif Karagoz

This question is haunting me… ever since I’ve started my Ph.D… Initially it was asked only by others, but lately I have been the one to ask myself: Why? Why Turkey? Of course, I had my answers prepared long time ago and served to the curious ones. The logical answers, starting with the motivation and purpose of my Ph.D. thesis about Turkish identity… and continuing with my attraction to everything “oriental”: landscapes, architecture, ezan, perfumes, olive threes, belly dance, music, turquoise, lokum and I can continue the list for 1001 nights… But I’ve always felt that my answer is incomplete, and maybe too logical to catch the essence buried deep inside me… There must be more, much more, and more to discover. And it is. I know it. Even though I’m not sure if I’m prepared to answer, to express myself, to find a way out from my inner labyrinth. It’s complicated! Really it is…

Today I had a “half” revelation. I missed Turkey, and somehow I knew why. I had a “so and so” day, balanced more in the direction of “not so good”, quite unusual for an innate optimist… I instantly knew what I need, a sweet escape… and my sweet escape is Turkey. The real Turkey or my imagined Turkey? I don’t really know and I don’t care! I’m aware about the fact that I might have created my own version of Turkey, a flawless Turkey, just like young lovers do closing their eyes to mistakes and imperfection. So what?  As far as I  enjoy this “image” or “improved” memory and find in it an oasis of relaxation, escape and dream sparkles it doesn’t matter whether it fits 100% to the reality or not…

So why I love Turkey? Besides delighting my eyes and my taste buds, Turkey works  for my soul as some kind of medicine. For me Turkey is synonymous with happy, friendly, welcoming and relaxed people, with contagious good mood, with never-ending holidays and strong human relationships. No rush, no stress, just smiles! People know how to enjoy life and seem to have a balanced lifestyle. They are not control maniacs, and neither antisocial, solitary, overly preoccupied or depressed, a definition which fits more and more the modern man. When it happens, however, to feel in a bad mood, people express their sadness, anger and disappointment, getting rid quickly of negative emotions. And when they are happy they share their happiness with the whole world! No pretending, no hidding. Everything seems to be easier in Turkey, …that’s why Turkey!

Photo taken by Elif Karagoz @Flickr

Sun, I got you Güneş…

DSCN4991

Sun, I got you Güneş… even though you were trying (denemek) to escape (kaçmak) from my camera (fotoğraf makinesi)… and catch the train (tren) for your daily (günlük) travel (seyahat) around the world (dünya)…  I got you! I got you to hold my breath (nefes) while enjoying your breathtaking (harika) goodbye (hoşçakal).

I got you to make me smile (gülmek). I got you to remind (hatırlamak) me how beautiful you are…how precious (değerli) is your light (ışık) which dawns on us and brings us to life (hayat)… I got you to enlighten my dreams (hayal) hidden (saklamak) in the approaching night (gece)… I got you to give me a last (son) drop (damla) of energy (enerji) for today (bugün) and to prepare (hazırlamak) me for a new (yeni) day. Confident (inanan) and hopeful (umutlu) that you will show me the “tomorrow” (yarin) in an optimistic (iyimser) light!

Oh! You’ve got me! I’ve written this post under the influence (etki) of… music (müzik)

Thank you Sunset (Gün batımı), Cher and Sonny for inspiration (ilham)

Extract (seçme) from the song (şarkı):

Babe (bebe(ğim))
I got you babe
I got you to hold (tutmak) my hand (el)
I got you to understand (anlamak)
I got you to walk (yürümek) with me
I got you to talk (konuşmak) with me
I got you to kiss (öpmek) goodnight

Sun, I got you Güneş… in my curtain (perde)…

İyi akşamlar!

Lyrics source: [1]