Note-To-Self on Happiness

Behind the scenes of the photo above are two guys: Kuya Nanding, head of our Siargao tour and Garli, one of his friends from the area.

While Kuya Nanding gave my friend some surfing 101’s, I hung out with Garli among the palm trees. Little did I know, I was about to have a conversation that would make me think about happiness in life.

Like any convo between visitor and local, it started with “Where are you from?” Because I wasn’t in Canada where this could either mean my background or my residence, I answered the latter.

I explained to him that I was born and raised in Manila, but chose to move overseas after finishing school. He told me he’s never been to Manila and he doesn’t really know of any other country. He has never flown all his life. He asked me what it was like.

I told him of the buildings, endless traffic and even the pollution of Manila. Then I later explained how far Canada is, the changing of the seasons and the layers of clothes I had to wear when the winter starts.

To be perfectly honest, I can’t tell him that these were better places. After all, if living the city life or reaching foreign soil is “the dream” then I wouldn’t keep on coming back to the islands trying to escape it.

He was silent for a moment then he said “Here, life is simpler” with a big smile on his face. “If you know what you need to know, you’ll be fine.”

“If you know how to swim and you know your way around, you can be a tour guide. If you know how to surf, you can teach and play. If you know how to fish and climb a tree, food won’t be a problem.” He didn’t stutter while saying these words and his eyes told me this is his simple truth.

There I was, a person who lowkey takes pride on the things I know and places I’ve seen, having a conversation with a man who had no idea what snow is. Yet he was happier than me.

We hung around for more than an hour talking about life on the island. But after that morning, all I could ever think was: I don’t think there’s a “big secret” to happiness.

Garli is happy because he simply focuses on what’s in front of him and what he has to do. He doesn’t chase bigger things because he already has what he needs. His wants, on the other hand, are something he may or may not go after. Either way he was contented.

I envy the happiness that came with this simplicity. I lived my life chasing for ‘more, more, more’ wether I needed them or not. It was tiring. I realized that if you could just focus on what is already there, what you already have, then it’s easier to find reasons to be happy about your life.

I don’t mean to stop wanting bigger things. Life goals are never limited. But live in a way where you know what’s really important at the end of the day. Stop wanting to fly without truly appreciating that you can walk.

I don’t know how to close this entry and I’m not sure if there’s something you could take away from it like I did. But I had to tell this story because it meant a lot to me. I know the blog has been long, thank you for spending time on it.

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