In pursuit of happiness.

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(image found somewhere among Google Images)

I wake up every morning to the same question: What is happiness and how can I get it? In fact, I think that each one of us is on a constant pursuit of happiness and when we do not get it, we decide that our lives must be bad, we get miserable and quickly forget there is so much to be grateful for.

But, what if happiness is not something you get, but feel? Or, what if I told you that, during the twenty one years of my search for happiness, I have discovered it comes and goes away? Much like the sea with the tide and ebb, happiness comes and goes away. Now, you may think this is quite a miserable thought to have in mind, but I disagree. Because, you see, just like the sea waves, when happiness ‘washes’ over us, it automatically manages to wash away any previous misery, too! The only sad part is, it does not last forever. In fact, it does not last merely long enough for you to feel fully content. Consequently, we can conclude that in order to be happy, one must always feel grateful. To show gratitude for the smallest of things means to appreciate your happiness here and now. The more you appreciate it, the bigger it becomes and, perhaps, the longer it will stay with you…

So, at this point, you may ask me: Okay, Anna, but what does happiness mean to you? Oh, I wish that I was young enough to feel as happy as a kid and old enough to know the answer to that question. Still, I cannot name one thing that makes me happy. For there are many things that can make me happy. And when I say things, I do not necessarily mean the materialistic objects in the world. Yes, it does feel good to buy new clothes that somehow make me feel prettier, if not more confident, but that is the briefest and most superficial form of happiness one human being can experience (in my opinion, anyway, you millionaires out there can tell me otherwise 😉 ). Anyhow, being the business student that I am, I always love to keep things organised, so I would like to present to you my ‘List of things that make me happy.’ (please note that number one does not mean the thing that brings me the most happiness; it is all very randomly put together to form up this list and make my article a bit more bearable to read)

  1. Saying ‘Yes’ to something that is quite random and brings a sense of uncomfortableness to you.

This means that sometimes to step out of your comfortable zone can be a truly thrilling experience. Why? Because, in my case (though I am sure I am not alone), I tend to overthink everything so truly too much and too deeply. This means that I also get to imagine all the things that could go wrong or make me feel awkward and uncomfortable. Especially when what I have agreed to means being thrown among a whole group of strangers that you have absolutely nothing in common with. But, do you want to know what happened in the end? I got to have loads of fun and strengthen my friendship with a newly made friend. So, how about that! Of course, I hope you are a smart individual and you realise that by ‘saying yes’ more often, I do not mean for you to accept completely dull offerings, such as drugs, alcohol or getting yourself in pure danger.

 

       2. Working very hard and enjoying doing so.

I am a complete workaholic and this can be proved by the academic career I have developed so far. Just to show you what I mean, at the moment, I am supposed to be having summer holidays and doing nothing at all or, perhaps, everything else, but studying. And yet, I have never been working harder than the work I am currently doing (and have been doing since March, 2016) on a university project I am part of. Now is the time to stop you before you have even began to think that I hate it- don’t you dare! There is nothing that I love more than feeling useful and having a purpose in life. For me, being able to do my research and to work so hard on something that I quite frankly love is one of the greatest forms of happiness that I keep on experiencing whenever our project develops further.

3. Seeing your efforts pay off and being recognised. 

To connect this point to the previous one, what makes me even happier is seeing the results of my work. Having my efforts pay off is, for me, pure success. And being praised by people I highly look up to is the greatest form of reward. Here is another example of how money really cannot buy happiness.

 4. Knowing who you are.

I really cannot underline this heavily enough- if you want to be happy, know who you are! Why? Because if you know what your worth is, you will never feel crushed by the miserable souls out there, who try to tell you that you are not good enough. And because that way, you can finally learn to love yourself and show others just why you are so truly worth to be loved and admired.

     5. Knowing what you want.

This  goes hand in hand with knowing who you are, really. Because if you know what you want, you will never allow yourself to settle for less and then feel discontent or filled with regret. And I have yet to discover something that eats up one’s happiness more quickly than regret. Wishing you had done something differently is the worst form of self-destruction out there. Because what is gone, is gone. You cannot change it. That is that.

      6. Friends and family.

I do believe these two are pretty self-explanatory. However, here I would just like to say that friends and family are the only people that actually help us achieve all of the points mentioned in this list.

        7. Strangers.

It sounds a bit weird, I know. But, think about it this way-I see little acts of kindness on the tube every single day, where two strangers show me, themselves and everybody around us what it means to be a real human being. For, much like what Anne Franke wrote in her diary, I believe that people, deep down, are good. They were born with pure hearts and genuine souls. Sadly, their life experiences can dull their light and wrap them in darkness (here it is worth saying that we should always fight this same darkness and respond to it with pure, overwhelming light), especially when we so easily label others as ‘bad’. So, to get back to my point, seeing strangers helping one another, brings me joy. My helping that old lady, who can barely walk, get off the bus or offering my seat to a pregnant woman, brings me happiness.

        8. Smiles.

You would say this is silly, for smiles are automatically connected to joy, one way or another. Well, then, you obviously need to broaden your horizons a little bit because smiles can be deceiving and they can hide the greatest of pain. Nonetheless, genuine smiles, offered at the right moment (and one moment can never be wrong if you are smiling from your heart), are like waterfalls of happiness. Imagine, that warm and loving smile that slowly curls up on a mother’s lips when she gets to lay her eyes on her firstborn and gets to hold them in her protective arms. The proud, appreciative smile your teacher gives you to praise your work and efforts. The very special smile you are the only person to get (in a sense that it is different from their other smiles) from somebody, who truly loves you. The smile that brightens a kid’s face even more. Or, the little smiles that you share with random strangers, which found something they liked in you, so they express it with a little upward curl of their lips.

         9. Looking into people’s eyes.

Don’t stare. Gaze. Don’t make others nervous with your eyes. Make them feel welcomed. Here I would just very briefly mention how happy eye contact makes me. Maybe it is just a very personal thing, tightly connected to the person I am, but I find that maintaining eye contact while talking to somebody makes me happy. Why? Because it simply shows me they are listening to me and, perhaps, enjoying what I am saying. Or whenever I am silent, eyes can say much more than words ever could. And, trust me when I say that, feeling others’ emotions entirely through their eyes, through the way they look at you, is one of the best experiences you can stumble upon. Especially when we talk about positive emotions…

          10. Dogs.

For dogs are the only creatures that love you unconditionally and without expecting a single thing in return. In fact, quite often, they love you even if you don’t love them… I suppose there are humans like that, too, but this is not the time nor place to get into that topic.

        11. Nature.

I live in a big city with even bigger buildings. And, sometimes, it can get quite overwhelming. The sight of those grey skyscrapers, the surrounding concrete jungle can be too much. Especially when I was brought up by the sea, with my little feet making their first steps on the warm, golden sands before the waves would wash over them, ticklish enough to make me laugh. So, whenever this sense of uneasiness and heaviness overwhelms me, I escape to nature. Here it is a very good time to mention just how grateful I am that London has some of the best parks I have ever seen (perhaps, I should even write a separate article on them one day), which can truly make you forget about the r rush and noise of the big city for a while. Yes, long, relaxing walks among nature make me happy, for they ease my heart and soul.

   12. Books.

A good book truly changes your life, for you find yourself becoming part of the story, getting lost in it almost as if it really is happening. And, of course, this can be connected to the previous point- there is hardly anything more relaxing and satisfying than reading a book, seated under a tree as the sun is dancing on your skin and birds’ melodies are ringing in your ears.

Having mentioned all of this, I suddenly come to a very interesting conclusion- the list goes on and on. And even little things like delicious food that I have tried for the first time bring me happiness. Now we come to the actual answer to the question of what is happiness. I think that, after reading everything, different thoughts of what makes you happy have randomly popped in your mind and you were surprised to find out just how many things bring you joy. So, why are you not happy then? The reason for it is never simple. But, I still think it hides in one simple truth- quite often, we forget to be grateful for what we already have, for what we have already experienced, for the relationships we have already built, for the work we have already accomplished; instead, we recklessly throw ourselves in the despair of always wanting more; and more; and more; never to be pleased.

Dear reader, my advice of the day would be: just stop for a moment, look around, and appreciate everything you have. Remind yourself of all the times you were truly happy and smile about it. Be grateful that you have ever been so lucky to experience happiness. Then, maybe, just maybe, happiness will come back to you when you least expect it to 🙂

Until we ‘meet’ again!

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Hello, it’s me…

Good morning, afternoon, evening, dear whoever is reading this from whichever place in the world you come from. Today I discovered that exactly three years ago I had started this blog. And, at first, you can imagine the horror of finding something you had  completely forgotten about, just being out there in the open, easily accessed by anybody and everybody,at any time, any place… Okay, I should not turn this into a horror movie. For, seeing how my articles, let’s just call them ‘pieces of my thinking’, were not bad at all, made me wonder why I had stopped writing in the first place…

Anyways, I do not think I ever even introduced myself to you, my dearest reader, and I believe that is a bit of a mistake, so let me try and do that in a few sentences.

My name is Anna and I am 21 years old. I am a student, who studies Business Management with Marketing in London. I absolutely love learning new things every day and I feel grateful to be studying in an amazing university (which I will not mention just because I do not like to disclose too much personal information on the internet 😉 ) and in an amazing city! Additonal hobbies include writing, taking photos and cooking. Oh, and reading.

I originally come from a small town in Bulgaria, so it has been quite a journey for me  ever since I moved here. However, despite all the difficulties  thrown my way, I believe I have become wiser and every bit of pain has made me stronger. You see, change can be a good thing as long as you get to discover:

1.Who you are.
2.What you want.
3.What you can offer the world with your existence.

I wish I could tell you what I will  be writing about in this blog, or when and how often, but I do not know. Truth is:

  1. I am not sure if I will ever write anything after this.
    2. Even if I do, I do not know how consistent I will be with it.
    3. Even if it becomes a bit of a habit of mine to write, I am unsure if I will always have the inspiration to keep on going. And let me tell you right here, if I do not feel inspired, I cannot write a single word properly.

So, at this point, I can only be sure about this:

  1. I love discussing meaningful topics on life, relationships, love, sadness or any emotion at all, so I intend to write articles, based on experiences I have had related to the mentioned before.
  2. I also love talking about something that has impressed me- like a little gesture of kindness on the tube or a great movie/book, so I intend to write about things like that as well.
  3. I will only write if I feel like it is a topic worth writing about.

I think that is all… For now. Until we ‘meet’ again!

Cupcakes♥

Hello, world! Today I have decided to dedicate a whole blog post to the thing that made me absolutely proud and happy- I made the most delicious cupcakes I have ever had. All by myself. These little pieces of Heaven are actually so easy to prepare, if made with enough love of course, and they have a divine taste, leaving you craving for more. Well, actually, the icing can be so sweet that you will perhaps find two cupcakes to be enough… And come back to the rest of them later. 😉

Let me first explain what exactly it is that I like so much about this dessert. Not only it is pretty simple and enjoyable to make, but you can use whatever flavour, icing and even shape you’d like- starting from the usual chocolate, vanilla or caramel taste to mixing fruit flavours or, in my case, cinnamon and other spices. It all depends on you and your preferences and likes. Which, frankly, to me is perfect because that way I could always experiment and improve my cooking skills by mixing some of the savours I mentioned above.

So, these are the babes that I actually managed to create this afternoon- now I feel completely proud and happy because they turned out to be simply amazing. The cinnamon gives the cupcake a rich dreamy taste, combined with the soft cupcake dough, and the snowy icing, which consists of well beaten egg yokes and sweet sugar syrup, finishes that perfect, splendid flavour.

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An interesting fact about cupcakes is that the first mention of them can be traced as far back as 1796, when a recipe notation of “a cake to be baked in small cups” was written in American Cookery by Amelia Simmons. But the earliest documentation of the term cupcake was in “Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats” in 1828 in Eliza Leslie’s Receipts cookbook. The second intriguing thing about these yummy fluffy pieces is that there actually are different variants in which you can make them. According to Wikipedia these are the ones:

A cake in a mug“- it  is a variant that gained popularity on many internet cooking forums and mailing lists. The technique uses a mug as its cooking vessel and can be done in a microwave oven. The recipe often takes fewer than five minutes to prepare.
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A butterfly cake– it is a variant of cupcake, also called fairy cake for its fairy-like “wings”.They can be made from any flavor of cake. The top of the fairy cake is cut off or carved out with a spoon, and cut in half. Then, butter creamwhipped cream or other sweet filling (e.g. jam) is spread into the hole. Finally, the two cut halves are stuck into the butter cream to look like butterfly wings. The wings of the cake are often decorated using icing to form various patterns.
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Frosted cupcakes– they may be made for special occasions such as baby showers, graduations, or holidays.
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A cake ball– it  is an individual portion of cake, round like a chocolate truffle, that is coated in chocolate.These are typically formed from crumbled cake mixed with frosting, rather than being baked as a sphere.
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A gourmet cupcake–  is a somewhat recent variant of cupcake. Gourmet cupcakes are large and filled cupcakes, based around a variety of flavor themes, such as Tiramisu or Cappuccino. In recent years there has been an upcropping of stores that sell only gourmet cupcakes in metropolitan areas.
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To sum up, I would simply say that cooking is probably one of my favourite free time activities because it makes me feel calm, happy even. Concentrating on that single recipe helps me push aside all my worries or school thoughts or anything that bothers me at all. So, what is your favourite recipe?

 

Also, a very special thanks to eHowUK for showing me how to make those lovely cinnamon cupcakes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUMFTQevf48   

Life is like a cup of coffee

Sometimes I cannot get this believe that life is like a cup of coffee out of my head. Isn’t it somehow true? Because just like this energizing drink, ‘the taste’ of our lives can be bitter or sweet, creamy or not. And it all simply depends on us. On how we decide to make it.

Some of us like our coffee with two or three (or more) sugars and others find that disgustingly sweet- they prefer it plain, simple and love its original taste. Isn’t that pretty much connected to our thoughts about existence in general? There are people, who are the perfect dreamers- like me, they constantly wish of a better world, where everything is roses and chocolates. Others, however, know that life is usually anything but pink and flowery- it is unfair and it requires great strength in order to survive while walking down its dark and rocky paths.

According to a site I just visited, the seven most popular types of coffee are the following:

  1.  Espresso-it is a strong black coffee made by forcing steam through dark-roast aromatic coffee beans at high pressure in an espresso machine.
  2. Cappuccino– it is a combination of equal parts espresso, steamed milk and milk froth.
  3. Americano– it  is a single shot of espresso added to a cup of hot water.
  4. Caffe Latte– it is a single shot of espresso to three parts of steamed milk.
  5. Caf Au Lait– the French version of caffe latte.
  6. Mochachino– it is a cappuccino or a caffe latte with chocolate syrup or powder added.
  7. Caramel Macchiato– the most common method to do this is combining espresso, caramel and foamed milk, though some use steamed milk.

So, do you see it? We can divide all those seven wonderful types of coffee in two groups- let’s call the first one “Sugar crush”. It is all about sweetness, dashing flavours like chocolate, vanilla, caramel…and lots of sugar. And the second group, I will name it “The Bitter taste”, focuses on the original bitter taste of coffee, without using anything sugary or additional flavours. I suppose now you are beginning to understand what I meant earlier, yes?

It’s all about the way we want to shape our life, whether it will be with more milky foam or not. The way we want it to taste, whether it will have more sugar and other sweeteners or not. The way we want to prepare it, in a big or smaller cup, made of glass or ceramic or porcelain. It all depends on how we see our existence, what our hopes, aims and dreams are and if we will do anything to make them come true or simply give up by the slightest boundary on the way.

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So, which is your favourite type of coffee?

Happy 25th

Sprinkle of Joy

About a month ago, I turned 25. It was definitely a thought provoking birthday as now I’ve been around for a quarter of a century. Inspired by my birthday, here are 25 things (in no particular order) I’ve learned in 25 years.

1. People will come and go in your life. Treasure the time you did have with them and move on. Don’t let their absence make you bitter.

2. Believe in yourself. Don’t give up on your dreams, no matter how many times people reject you.

3. There’s no greater love than God’s. He is always there, even when it feels like no one else is.

4. Grace is important. As cliche as it may seem, forgive and forget. We will all be happier in life if we don’t hold grudges.

5. Whatever you do in life, do it well and make sure it makes you happy. Life is…

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A simple fruit represents your own self?

Hello, world- I am reaching out to you from a beautiful little town, situated right by the Black Sea, in the good old Europe. This is my blogging page and I shall be writing about… Well, everything. And by everything I mean things that inspire me, frighten me, make me happy or sad, things that give me endless feels and emotions or simply make me feel thoughtful about life in general.

 

So, here I am- holding this small orange fruit in my hand, admiring its bright color, and slowly peeling off the cover. Piece by piece, gently, carefully as if it may all fall apart. But it isn’t such an easy job as the mandarin has this special sticky juice that spreads all over my hands, giving every single piece of this delicious fruit a bit of a bitter taste. Bitter-sweet?

And the first thing that comes to my mind is the following- I find this peculiar similarity between us, humans, and this wee fruit. Reading this, you might think I am some kind of a mad woman or you may simply want to close this page and skip to something, in your current opinion, more interesting. But, hold on! Before you judge or call me “boring” and “ridiculous”, let me explain.

A human being is like a delicious juicy fruit, small or big, bright or darker, and it takes great patience to carefully peel off its cover and savour the delicious taste it has to offer on the inside. Because just like rushing to peel off a fruit, or using too much strength, can hurt its completeness and best qualities, the same happens with us. If you are being mean, misunderstanding or cruel to others, you can never truly see what hides behind their brown, blue, green (and so on) eyes, golden blonde, burning red, raven black (and so on) hair or little, big, bright, shy smile. And imagine what a great loss would be to miss out on letting that same human being reveal their true soul and warm heart? Isn’t not trying, not knowing, not being patient and careful enough the worst? 

Every one of us consists of multiple layers. In fact, our true identities remain hidden behind a great choice of masks- the one we wear at school, at work, among people we like and others that we don’t like. The ‘lucky ones’ are those, who get to see our true identity, personality- the pit of the fruit, hiding so skillfully inside of it. And what greatness would it be to reveal somebody’s, let’s call it that, real face. To be able to own a little spot in that important person’s heart, to be able to get to the last layer of their identity- their soul. And then to cherish the different types of beauty we all carry, less or more.

But, be aware, revealing one’s true self makes them extremely vulnerable, just like the gentle petals of a beautiful flower can easily be ripped off in a single movement. Just like when you, I am going back to that fruit example, yes, press onto the mandarin too much, you ruin the previously perfect sweet piece it had to offer. And, alas, here comes the difference- you get, say, ten more pieces from the fruit, but when it comes to humans, you would be grateful for the slightest possibility of a second chance. Because a single word, action, or a simple look can ruin your relationship with whoever and if you break somebody’s trust, it can never be fully restored- just like when you break a vase or something made of glass, you can never return its shape, just try to glue the pieces back together.

So, what I am trying to say is, always try to be a better person than you were yesterday. Be kind, polite, careful, compassionate and understanding. Speak what’s on your mind, but learn to listen as well. Have your own opinion, but don’t judge because that ‘annoying’ person doesn’t agree with you on everything. Say less and do more. Make promises that you are certain you will keep. And at last, but not at least, be grateful for what you have. For the little things take the biggest space in our hearts. And try to tell people how you feel before it gets too late.

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Sources of my inspiration for the day:

1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IP8psM4LWXk

2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DH1JGlYOL0

3) Ludovico Einaudi’s music