When I went to Taiwan, it was kind of like a free pass for me to do whatever the hell I wanted. I was alone in a foreign country; no friends, no family; nothing to hold you back. So of course as I started to make more friends, late night dinners, karaoke-ing, midnight runs and bike rides (that I always protested at) became a constant in my life. No curfews and living by myself meant that I basically had a free pass to make myself happy; with no obligations to compromise with family members on certain issues, or trying to wrangle a few hours of talking time from friends who seemed to be eternally busy with their own lives.
I thought to myself, you know, why not? You're probably never going experience this kind of freedom ever again in your life, so you might as well make the most of it while you can. And so for the first time in my life, I gave myself permission to put myself first. I've always felt it was my obligation to put others before myself; to me it just seemed like the moral and right thing to do. I always thought, it's not like I can't afford to give in to these people so I might as well. But giving in soon turned into being taken advantage of, and the relaxed attitude that I had towards the situation at hand had turned into a kind of resignation to my fate as the one who always had the short end of the straw. But what I realised somewhere along the way was that in order to extend the greatest kindness and love to others; you must first encourage it within yourself.
And it's not like I hadn't heard this line before, I just thought that it was a whole bunch of bullcrap in the midst of my busy life. But as time wasting as it might sound, making yourself happy is actually the most productive thing you could do both for yourself, and for others around you. When I came back from Taipei, I'm pretty sure I did all my chores for six months without even complaining ONCE. Okay maybe a couple of times… But I consciously put in the effort to make things easier for everyone by pulling my weight AND by not complaining about it. The not-as-happy me would definitely not have enough energy or wisdom to not complain about the chores despite any conflicts that might arise. It might sound like just a small thing, but it's a really big deal to me.
My friends who have come back from taiwan and enjoyed it as much as me have also told me the same thing; their grades have gone up because they're so much happier than they were before! So at any chance you get, I hope you can take some time out of your daily schedule to concentrate on things that you love to do. Because your happiness should be as important to you as everyone else's. Business is addictive; everyone's trying to get somewhere in this big world of opportunities. But what they didn't tell you is that being able to set time apart from others just for yourself is a real skill. It's one that I haven't mastered yet, but I hope that you have, or are on your way to mastering it too! Trust me, it's all for the best.
I'd like to share with you a happy happy song, coincidentally of the same name of this post, <As long as you're happy> by Chen Si Han featuring Penny Dai. Enjoy!
It's been my dream since I started getting to know more about Chinese music to be able to live in Taipei, and now I'm finally going to be able to! Starting from the 11th of February, I will be staying in Taipei for 139 days and hope to share parts of my experiences that may be helpful with readers everywhere! (Feb 2014)