Meaningful Quote – Carlos Castaneda

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“A path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you . . . Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself alone, one question . . . Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t it is of no use.”

Carlos Castaneda from The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge

This quote ties in with yesterday’s post about the Philosophy of Happiness. When I came across this in my early college years, it really set the tone for the decisions I was about to make – about school, about my prospective career, about my romantic relationships. I may have been something of a heartbreaker during those few years, and for that I am sorry; that was not my intention.

By following my heart, and learning from my mistakes, I became who I am today. I wasn’t doing things just because someone told me, or because I read it in some book, or that is what I thought was expected of me. Like Napoleon Dynamite, I followed my heart. And it eventually led me to finding and attracting Melissa – so that was definitely the right path.

Photo from Flickr user jrodmanjr

A Philosophy of Happiness

Napoleon Dynamite Follow Your Heart That's What I Always Do Just Listen

So much of my identity and self-worth in high school and into college was based on having to be with someone romantically in order to be happy. From what my research revealed about love, and based on my (failed) personal experience, I realized that I needed to be happy on my own before I could find someone to be happy with. In order to meet this requirement, I developed a personal philosophy of happiness.

The basic tenant of my philosophy is this: Each and every moment, each and every person is doing what they most want to do – what makes them the happiest, or really what they think will make them the happiest. Take someone who hates their job. They still put up with it, because they need the paycheck. They know that they will be worse off if they didn’t have the money that this bad job provides. And every decision, no matter how important or insignificant, is driven by our desire to be happy.

It should be noted that people don’t always make obvious decisions (to the external observer) that improve their happiness. Some people might sacrifice to make others happy. This helping of others makes them happy, even if that might not seem the case to the outside observer. Still others might engage in self-destructive activities like drugs – they might be drawn to the instantaneous happiness (high) that the drugs provide, maybe they are looking for something to cure their boredom, or even just looking for attention from their family or friends. Whatever the reason(s) may be, on the most fundamental level their decisions are based on their personal happiness.

At some point in college, I took ownership of my decisions. I realized that I alone decide what to do next in order to increase my personal happiness. My family and friends may think they know what is best for me, but I make my own decisions. I’m allowed to follow any path my heart desires. Once I knew I was working towards the goals and dreams that I truly wanted to pursue (especially in regards to education and career aspirations), I was free to be happy in the moment – because I knew that at every single moment I am right where I most want to be.

If the path you are on is not your path, or if that path is not making you happy (or if you don’t know if it will make you happy once you get to the end), consider changing paths. It’s why so many kids in college change their major so many times. You’ve got to find something that is right for you, because you alone are responsible for your own path and your own happiness. Get on the right path, and you’ll be surprised how soon the right person comes along.

Edit: It looks like there is already a Philosophy of Happiness. Cool!

Music: The Hopeful Romantic Mixtape

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A few years ago for Valentine’s Day, I compiled a Hopeful Romantic Mixtape – songs from my favorite artists that correspond with each chapter. Well, with the advent of this new website and the streaming availability of Spotify, I thought it was worthwhile to repost. Here’s a link to the Spotify playlist, as well as a chapter and track listing:

Chapter 1 – Being Happy
Heartless Bastards – Be So Happy

Chapter 2 – Knowing What You Want
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Oregon Girl

Chapter 3 – First Contact
Eli “Paperboy” Reed & The True Loves – Am I Wasting My Time

Chapter 4 – First Date, First Kiss
Flight of the Concords – A Kiss Is Not A Contract

Chapter 5 – Differences
Wilco – Pick Up The Change

Chapter 6 – Growing In Love, Then Falling In Love
Ben Kweller – Falling

Chapter 7 – Dead End Relationships
Feist – Inside And Out

Chapter 8 – The Art of the Breakup
Loretta Lynn – Mrs. Leroy Brown

Chapter 9 – Recovery
Limbeck – Honk + Wave

Chapter 10 – Is This Person the One?
Patrick Wolf – The Magic Position

Chapter 11 – Appreciation + Compromise
Golden Shoulders – Patience Darling, Patience

Chapter 12 – Being Happy Together
Jens Lekman – Someone to Share My Life With

That last song was Melissa and I’s first dance at our wedding!

I’ll try to update this playlist every Valentine’s Day. So look for a new one next February!

Photo via Flickr user le vent le cri

Movie Review: My Big Fat Greek Wedding

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The recent post about the sad state of affairs for romantic comedies got me thinking. A common plot point in some of these movies is when one (or both) of the main characters has a big secret when they start dating. Now, there are good examples of this – 10 Things I Hate About You and Never Been Kissed both come to mind. And there are many more that fall short of expectations.

Then I tried to think of a movie that had the opposite plot device, where the lead characters were completely honest with each other up front, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding immediately came to mind. In fact, this movie showcases many good, Hopeful Romantic type traits…

The lead female character Toula (played by Nia Vardalos) begins the movie as a hostess working in her family’s Greek restaurant. She is severely relationship-challenged as her family expects her to marry a nice Greek boy. One day, a teacher named Ian Miller (played by John Corbit) is eating with his friend at Toula’s restaurant, and Toula immediately falls for him. But how can a shy, somewhat depressed hostess ever hope to attract someone like Ian?

Well, Toula devises a plan with her mother and aunt to advance her career by going to college, taking some computer classes, and then work in the family-run travel agency. With her life finally starting to improve, who might randomly walk into the store? Ian Miller, of course! They start dating, and Ian wants to take Toula to this great Greek restaurant he’s been to. Rather than lie because she’s too embarrassed, she immediately admits that it is her family’s restaurant and that she used to work there. And guess what… it’s not a big deal. Being honest, especially at the beginning of a relationship, can save plenty of headaches later on.

Their dating progresses quickly, with a little backlash from her father since Ian isn’t a Greek Orthodox Christian, but eventually Ian comes to propose to Toula. And not just propose; because he’s met her family and knows how deeply they are involved in the Greek Orthodox Church, Ian agrees to become baptized so that he and Toula can be married in her Church. What a guy!

All in all, a great flick for the Hopeful Romantic. She realized she wasn’t happy with her life, changed her career path, was able to attract and start dating a great guy, they were honest with each other from the start, and he knew she was the one so much that he got baptized in order to marry her with her family’s blessing.

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Guys, would you do this in order to marry the person you loved?