Are you happy? You know, in a most-of-the-time kind of way? What is happiness for you? Is it a state created by fleeting moments of laughter or euphoria, or an overall situation of positivity and pleasure? Is your happiness based on your professional achievements? On your children? On finding more time to NOT work? Dolce far niente? Is your happiness about watching a sunset over the ocean in some remote location? Is it about being with those you love? Or simply that those you love are happy and healthy? A little bit of all of the above mentioned? Is it about finding time for a special hobby? Or feeling challenged and existing in an environment of growth?
And what is Quality of Life for you? What is the Quality of your life? Do you live well? Are you taking care of your mental, emotional and physical health on a daily basis? Do you nourish your body and mind with good stuff? Good stuff. That’s a technical term. You know, brussels sprouts and reading Voltaire, stuff we all do.
I left America many years ago to a new situation and a fresh start in a foreign land. Due to the fact that I couldn’t work in anything remotely similar to what I was previously doing (not much opportunity in little Cadiz-40% unemployment rate), and not without strife and sadness and lots and lots of questioning, I took advantage of my new situation to make my professional life fit my personal life in this beautiful area of this amazing country, in a direction that I never would have imagined (it has taken 8 years…). I still work my 8 hours a day, I’m still American and Max Weber would still approve of my protestant work ethic, but I don’t commute (I hardly use a car), I walk everywhere, I work for myself, from my home office, no grumpy boss. I have time for my family, we have lunch together almost everyday (and dinner) and I’m able to cook fresh, healthy meals daily. I feel very, very fortunate. There are definitely negative aspects to my situation: I miss my family and friends so much it hurts, I miss America and American cordiality in random, everyday situations (supermarket, gas station, etc.–Spaniards aren’t known for their customer service), I miss garages connected to houses, and living in houses, for that matter. But my good Quality of Life makes me happy on a daily basis.
One of my star QoL routines here in my little coastal, Spanish life happens every Tuesday and Thursday, from 330pm to 530pm. I toss on my running sneakers, I grab my ancient ipod, I elevate down 7 floors to the boardwalk (yes, we live right across the street from the beach…not bad), and I trot 3 kilometers along the ocean to my Pilates studio (it also overlooks the ocean, not bad and a half) listening to the same three songs from Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Stadium Arcadium album the entire way, every time (creature of habit?). I do my hour of machine-pilates, oxygenating my muscles, loosening and stretching my joints, firming up my core, and then I trot back 3 kilometers to my apartment, jump in the shower and get back to work for a few more hours. It’s alone time, it’s breathing-fresh-air time, it’s time to think, reflect, or to be absent. It’s time to just listen to my breathing and appreciate my body as a vessel that transports me through the tasks that I require of it on a daily basis. That, for me, is a HUGE part of my QoL.
Do you have any similar routines? Do you exercise regularly? Do you do it to release stress, to burn calories or just because you enjoy it?