Happiness Is…

Thoughts, Uncategorized

Charitable donation to my happiness jar

As we know, happiness doesn’t depend on how much money you have, it depends on your commitment to be happy with whatever life throws at you. Happiness is about knowing what makes you happy and put the hard work into reaching that goal. With your kind donation, I may just get to my goal a little bit faster...


The story goes like this – as I approach the age of 40, which in Chinese culture, is the age of “no puzzling”, I found myself feeling more and more lost with the meaning of life, then with some only-god-know-how-it-happened chain of events, I finally found my meaning for my life and my happiness.

What is the meaning of my life? I have been asking this question for a while (see this meaning of life post from Feb). When I was little, I had this belief that I have some super power and my purpose of life is to make the people around me happy. So bringing happiness to others was my meaning of life back then.

As I grew to the age of adolescence and was facing the career choice I felt clueless, I was told by my uncle who was deemed the most knowledgeable person in the family to study Computer Science. My mom had planed out my life path which is to go to a graduate school in US and then stay in US as she strongly believed that it would be the brightest future. I had no interest in GRE and Toefl tests and could care less about coming to US. I had applied to a Master program in International Business in Beijing and was accepted. However growing up being the only child who didn’t dare to say no to my parents, I reluctantly went through the application process for graduate schools in US and gave in to my mom’s plan.

I remember I cried so hard when I first started my graduate program abroad, because I felt so lonely and out of place. I felt no motivation, but simply heavy burden on my shoulders as I was told by my parents they could’t pay for my tuition and I was on my own. I worked at dining halls, and participated in medical research programs to make money, eventually I got a graduate assistant position and finished my Master program. Then to stay in US, I went on to enter the Ph.D. program at the same department, only to find out that I have no motivation to finish the dissertation.

My aunt who was the closest person to me passed away in Feb, 2008 after fighting ovarian cancer. I was angry and I lost faith in God. If there was a God, why was he blind for taking her away? After the grieving period, I made the decision to give up on my Ph.D. degree and pursue my own interests. With the support of my husband, I started a photo studio and retail store that specializes children’s products. It was a struggle to generate income stream doing those things, but I had so much time on my hands to be totally focused on learning the photography techniques, it was then when I realized that following my passion is part of what makes my life meaningful.

Fast forward 9 years, I found a corporate job that pays well as a Software Engineer, had 4 daughters and moved to a fast growing city, living in a red brick house. Life seems to have settled into a much better and happier state. But deep down, a hole is developing in my heart, a question lingering in my mind, an itch to find out the answer keeps me on my toes. Have you ever experienced that feeling?

The life that I have seems to be in an autopilot mode, you get up, get the kids ready, drive to work, sit in front of the computer all day long, then leave work, pick up the kids, get the dinner ready, spent night time with kids, then go to bed. On weekends, it is the kids activities, parties and chores that would fill up most of your days. You would have a few vacations throughout the year, be it beaches or cities or cruises. Life is comfortable, not too hard, predictable, nothing wrong with this picture, except that, there is something missing in my heart. It’s like I am approaching the edge of the “being dumb and happy” stage and need to get into the “being wise and happy” stage.

Several months ago, I asked my husband, “what is your purpose of life”? He said “Love, that’s all that matters. To love and to be loved and finding the happiness in the process.” I remember saying “Really?” At the moment of the conversation, I thought the purpose of life is “finding out about yourself and knowing yourself and living the way you want to live to be fulfilled”.

Then I met someone, and got to know him, a friend who understands me so well that we can talk about things all day long. He was there for me through some really tough time.  I started to think that the purpose of life is “finding love and the deep human connections”. Learning how to love myself, how to love other people, despite all the flaws and quirks we have was an important lesson for me.

There was a day that felt like the rock bottom of my life. It felt like the closest people in my life have betrayed me, and I couldn’t love myself for who I am, and the physical pains in my body reminded me something has gone wrong, the old me was dying. The miracle was that on the night of that day, as I thought I may slide into some prolonged stage of depression, I decided to cook a full meal for the family. Then things started to look better and feel better for me.

I started to receive those little signs like there are some god sent messages from a conversation with a friend (she told me that her husband had left her being afraid that their newborn baby had brain damage and she had been taking care of two kids all on her own), from reading an article in a magazine, from hearing the words of appreciation from my children…They gave me the strength, and taught me the power to choose to be happy. I then understand only after you hit the rock bottom, can you make that choice of standing up high, or lying there moaning.

As I read Tony Robbins’s book Unshakeable today, this paragraph resonated with me

“What I’ve come to realize is that the single most important decision in life is this: Are you committed to being happy, no matter what happens to you? To put this another way, will you commit to enjoying life not only when everything goes your way but also when everything goes against you, when injustice happens, when someone screws you over, when you lose something or someone you love, or when nobody seems to understand or appreciate you? Unless we make this definitive decision to stop suffering and live in a beautiful state, our survival minds will create suffering whenever our desires, expectations, or preferences are not met. What a waste of so much of our lives!”

I am so grateful for my journey to find my answer to my question of purpose of life:

To know yourself, and love yourself, do what you love to do…

To love others, without asking for anything back, despite their flaws and quirks…

To choose to be happy, no matter what life throws at you, as long as you are living…








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