Do you know that happiness is an active choice? It is an internal state of mind. I was told that I always appear to be happy. Clearly, laughing out loud often does that to people. Jokes aside, here’s my take on happiness.

Believe it or not, I was downright depressed at some stage. An old Japanese (2008) series changed that. Funny how a piece of fiction changed my perspective. The series was called “Around 40”.

 

One character really shook me. Nao Morimura 森村奈央 has a picture perfect life. Perfect marriage and published articles on how fabulous her life was. Meanwhile, her husband completely ignored her, but she smiled and told the public what a supportive husband he was?!? It was enraging to watch. I had many urges to smack this woman. She’s one of those characters that I crawls under my skin.

 

The saddest part is that it reflects the reality these days. Thanks to social media, many of us have fallen victim to our own ‘reality creation’. Value perception over actual reality. It is such a fine line between doing things for personal enjoyment versus attract attention in hopes of recognition. It made me reflect on myself.

 

I used to end up buying things that my acquaintances desire more than what I did. WHY? O, I was hungry for acceptance or perception of having cool stuff. I was deadly stupid, clearly. Living in Shanghai and hang with other expats was living in a massive bubble. Why was it important to get a new phone like twice a year? Or what possessed me to buy multiple handbags that I didn’t particularly like but were ‘must haves’? I did not feel like drinking all weekend, but hey, it’s the cool thing to do. (+ 1000 more stupid things) All in the name of creating the desired perception. Looking back, I can only ask myself WHY. It may have made someone envious, just not myself.

 

The most inspiring thing from this series was this catch phrase:

“あたしが幸せかどうかはあたしが決める。”

Translate: I decide whether I am happy or not. / I decide for my own happiness.

Some of my older reader may have noticed that the quote, “Happiness is only for the brave,” appeared on my old homepage / profile. Well, that’s my spin. I really do believe in it. The decision to be happy is a brave choice. So happiness is decisively only for the brave. It is a state of mind.

 

I highly recommend this TV series, especially to fellow ladies out there. Here a quick synopsis of the series: Around 40

The lead character was Satoko, 39, a beautiful single psychiatrist. Being a Japanese woman, she was under huge pressure to get married and stop working. That was THE life goal back in the days. Others started to feel sorry for her because she was alone. However, Satoko knew how to enjoy her life. She had the wisdom knowing the difference between lonely and alone.

 

Satoko has 2 close friends, Nao (33) and Mizue (around 40). Nao was pretty much what I wrote at the beginning of the post. Mizue was a full time housewife, a classic Japanese woman who gave up work to take care of husband and child. She was waiting for her son to grow up and was preparing to divorce. Bear in mind that she has not worked for YEARS. Watching her looking for work was heart wrenching. The series was all about the pursuits of happiness, self actualisation and friendship. I LOVE this series.

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Official poster from the series.

 

Thank you for reading. I hope this is not too bizarre. So what’s your take on happiness?

 

Previous reflection post? Ichigo Ichie. One time, One meeting. 一期一会 It’s been a very long time since I do one of these personal posts.

 

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Author

Hi, I am Joyce. 30+ living in Paris. Laughs a lot. Rooibos tea. Appreciate little things. Explore places. Fighting beauty OCD.

17 Comments

  1. I cannot even imagine living in Shanghai with all the crazy new money. I thought HK was bad enough…
    Social media is out of control. I get caught up in it too. Some days I just want to stop visiting altogether but then I miss checking up on my friends!
    “Happiness is only for the brave” is such a powerful statement! I will say that there are some things out of one’s control like brain chemistry and such. It doesn’t help a clinically depressed person to say “you make your own happiness” because they honestly cannot, not without some help.
    But, I get what you’re saying! It’s really easy to blame external forces but sometimes we invite them into our lives. I also think there’s an element of risk that we all take to attain happiness. And for those who are risk adverse, it’s easier to stay in the current state or get wrapped up with the smallness of life.
    Anyway, I ramble!

    • Actually, there’s not that much difference between HK and SHA in terms of consumerism culture LOL They’re very similar.

      Social media out of control is when I can’t tell which platform I’ve replied to who wahaha it maybe just me though. I don’t know how you keep up. You seem to be totally nailing it with all those prompt replies and stuff.

      Okay, chemical imbalance is something else. Good point, I didn’t think of that. Ramble is always too 😛

  2. I loved reading your sharing of the programme and your philosophy Joyce. I especially love anything Japanese so I was very connected to the series. My guess is this may have set a few Japanese women on life changing pathways when it first aired in 2008. I have a number of female Japanese friends here in Melbourne who came our here on working holidays / language assistant roles in schools and never went back. All married to Australians, with kids and working. Happiness for me is the ways dogs celebrate life with their people.

    • Thank you, Denis 😀 These type of posts are more challenging for me to write. I’ll persevere and do more 😉

      I hope so, I really do think this series is epic! Do you watch Japanese drama too? You’re full of surprises Denis.

      Simply joys in life are the best 😀

  3. Sounds like a wonderful series, Joyce. It is rare to find realistic female characters in the media, and heartening that this seems to be one of them. Happiness is a choice, and it is not an easy one…and neither is the choice to be alone in order to pursue happiness. Thank you for the support in all of these tough choices…I hope your words are as comforting to you as they are to all of us. 🙂

    • Exactly, right? So many hyperbole females leads that are so unrealistic, this is a rare series indeed. Thank you for the feedback. So nice to know 😀 xox Have a fab weekend!!

  4. Joyce, the moment I read the title of your post I knew I would agree with every word you wrote! This.is.so.TRUE!!! I blame it all on social media, people share crazy stuff and highlight their life from the best angles (not just physical). This results in others feeling depressed because hey, I don’t have a glamorous life like s/he has. This stuff can make you feel like you have achieved nothing and seriously depress. I had a friend (finally decided to break ties with her) who would exaggerate tenfolds everything she did: achievements, personal life, etc. She would tag in shops like Dior and Chanel, but when I asked her what she bought she would say nothing. I felt sorry for her because she needs to make others envious to proves her self worth. Hey, I’m all about sharing good news, but if it is based on truth. Most of the time, it isn’t. When I got into blogging and started reading other’s blogs and stories about their luxurious travels around the world, fashionable outfits – I felt like I’d never be able to match that and got depressed that my blog isn’t worth a thing. But then I sat down and had a long inner conversation with myself. Comparison is a HUGE thief of joy, and you will be truly happy only if you learn to appreciate and love what you have now. There is no such thing as perfect life, we all have our own struggles, so it’s important to be content, and stop comparing our chapter 1 with someone else’s chapter 20. Are you still reading? 😀

    • I am still reading, Nano 😀 Not going anywhere and I agree with you totally. I know someone like that too. Sadly, I haven’t braved to break the ties. I kind of just avoid her.

      I love your metaphor! May I quote you? “Comparison is a huge thief of joy.” Exactly! Happiness is an emotion that we need to generate it by ourselves, internally.

      Thank you for dropping by and share your story too, Nano 😀 xox Fab weekend!!!

      • Sadly I’m not that smart, it’s a quote by Theodore Roosevelt. But isn’t it spot on? We should focus on our lives, be proud of our progress, and other thing that always helps me when I’m down is writing down all the things I should be thankful for in my life. Concentrating on positive is the best thing ☺️ have a great weekend you too!

  5. I agree. Sometimes you have to choose to be happy. Sometimes, you have to stop doing things which make you unhappy.
    I was quite unhappy for a long time, but I did not have the social pressures to buy things or act a certain way. I was lucky in that way, but there are other behaviours which are also negative.
    I chose to pick one thing a day to be happy about and it worked pretty well.
    Now, I am having a bit of stress about my looks, my weight, and not being in a relationship. I blame that, wrongly, on the first two. As you can see, I have a bit of a way to go.

    • Hi Anthony, I see where you’re coming from. Weight/look and relations are mega strong pier pressure.Social media full of picture perfection is so not helping.

      So much emphasize to be with someone. The “norm” is to couple up. It is strange, why can people not be happy with the statement that some people do genuinely enjoy being by themselves?

      Everyone has their own struggle, you’re not alone. It just that most people ignore it or hide it.

      Thank you for dropping by and sharing your story, Anthony. xox have a lovely weekend

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