The Reason I am Happy

For a while I used to wonder why some people seem so bothered by my being someone who likes to be happy and smile. One of my past romantic relationships was actually plagued by this problem. There was a constant need to poke holes at my positive attitude with the pretense of “nobody is that happy,” or “nobody likes everyone.” The first part is true, I am this happy 95% of the time; the second is actually more complex because I do try to find things in common with almost anyone but I definitely not like everybody. Until I read this article over at Zen Habits, I did not have a good explanation as to how I why it was so easy for me to switch that happy switch.

The reason I am so happy is that I don’t measure myself with someone else’s ruler. The article closes with a very simple but powerful couple of sentences.

“So forget about “success”, and just find joy, passion, love, awesome-ness right now, in this moment. *That* is a success you can achieve, without any self-help course, without any method. Just go out and do it.”

I have never chased success, especially not someone else’s idea of it. It stings a little when sometimes members of my family said that I could have been a lawyer or a doctor and that would have given me more “status.”  However, I don’t think either of those could have made me happier. What I do to make money is not what makes me in my eyes successful at all. Maybe it is because of it I learned that I could not measure my success by someone else’s ideas, and in a way their passing that judgment helped me go down the road of understanding this idea lots quicker.

The article centers around the idea of chasing success in the commonly understood sense of the word being a bad thing. I have to agree wholeheartedly. One of the hardest friendships to lose was because of this same idea. To that person getting ahead in life was more important than personal relationships. I could simply not agree with that idea. If that is what it took to get ahead in business, I really did not want to do it.

During my career, I’ve had opportunities to screw other people over to get ahead but I always chose not to. I will never forget the day when the VP of a company told me that my problem was simply that I did not “kiss enough @ss.” When I like a person it is sincere, not because I think I can get something out of them or the relationship. That is not to say that I don’t understand how most people work, but when I compliment someone it is sincere, not to inflate their ego.

I have been writing here for years now, and I love my blog because, like the Zen Habits writer, I do it for me. It does not matter if have 1 reader or 1000. If this is a vehicle for me to express my feelings and better my writing, I have succeeded. The fact that people like what I write or have found good ideas to expand upon is icing on the cake.

I define success simply by the people you have around you and the relationship you have with them. It is not the number of people, but rather what they bring into your life. Not all the relationships in my life are perfect and many of them could be leap and bounds better, but most of them bring amazing joy to my life. Be it laughter, passion, playing a video game together or just the simple joy of spending an afternoon doing nothing; I am the luckiest man alive by having so many wonderful relationships in my life, starting with my wife.

Sure, I do have goals in my life and some of those are attached to attaining objects or money; but my happiness is not attached to any of those things. Tonight I am having dinner with a friend that is visiting from KC and his wife. Their friendship has meant the world to me because they were there during some rough moments but mostly because it was important for them to spend time with us while they were here in town for a couple of days. Tomorrow, my wife and her online friend of 10 years are going to get to meet face to face for the first time. Maybe it is because I will be spending time with my best friend tomorrow or because I will get to hang out with a bunch of wonderful people at Blizzcon; but I am super happy, super excited and just feel I won the lottery by being able to share my life with so many cool people. So yes I am happy!

Two Day Trip

When I booked the plan tickets I had many options for traveling from Chicago to Miami… but there is only one American Airlines flight to Cali a day. It leaves Miami at 4:40 almost on the dot every time, but I always forget that they start boarding almost an hour earlier.

I figured 2 hours between flights would be plenty even if there was a delay or congestion in Ohare, but in relaity I should have chosen an earlier flight. When we arrived at the gate in Chicago the plane was already there which is a good sign of leaving on time, until the gate agent announced that they had to perform some “maintenance” on the plane.

The waiting game started and almost an hour later the words equipment change made us start wondering if we would be able to catch our connection. I was hopeful until we arrived at the gate and the plane was still there… the close to the tunnel was not closed yet, however the plane door was… there was no way we were getting on that plane.

I wondered why with the computer systems they have now they cannot arrange for the plane to wait for passengers for an international connecting flight (there was four of us). When I started thinking of the logistics though, we could have boarded the plane on time but what about the bags. In reality switching from one plane to another takes time, so in the future when the flexibility allows for it I will sacrifice sleep for arriving in the day I plan.

It is frustrating to have to cut your vacation a day short, but better that going down on a broken plane. We did end up with paid meals and on first class on our last leg of travel… I had travelled in first class before, but American Airlines first class is pretty awesome.

We are safe, sound and rested in Palmira, Colombia.


Besides the pieces of our personality that are innate, we start to gather tons of things from people around us from the moment we are born. The models we use to shape who we are; were referred to as “espejos” (mirrors) by my Mom. Recently I’ve had the opportunity to speak with people that saw me grow up and it has really impacted me that who I am today is directly related to so many of the people that I grew up around when I was a kid.

Harry Potter has the mirror of Erised which materializes that which we desire the most. What if people were also like that mirrors, and when growing up those adults are the things we model ourselves after.

Human have many flaws, but when we are growing up many of the adults we see appear to have none. From our parents to our teachers none of them seem to have any issues and its only later in life that we start to see that there are humans behind those sturdy armors. Funny thing is that even as an adult I have met many people that really never lost their armor and did not end up looking as flawed as everyone is supposed to be.

Those people are the pillars of my life and who I have been able to model many of my personality traits after. I am positive by nature, but having people growing up that lived a life of positive thinking made that easier to develop. Seeing that people can live their life truly happy despite their circumstances is empowering. What also helps is to see how unhappy and empty is the life of someone that digs for a flaw on every person or every situation.

In recent years I have been able to curve my paranoid nature when it came to many aspects of my life, and it has been liberating to not feel like the other shoe is about to drop. Being in contact with some of those strong pillars in my life makes it easier to see that the life I chose to live is completely sane. Either that or I have found a nice group of crazy people… they are my little bee’s nonetheless.

Its rough to know that my strongest pillars is not with us anymore, and I miss him so much… however, he was a big mirror to me growing up and I hope I can be at least a little bit like him. I will continue to seek truth and good relationships like he always did.

I guess in the end we all get what we seek.

Miss My Friday Feast

It was such a easy way to post something without putting a whole lot of thought into it! So in a nostalgic remembering kind of way, and simply because I know it will annoy Mesha, here are some ramdom questions on this awesome Friday

What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer?
I hardly ever download anything to my computer anymore, I think it was the SCII beta, but I recently worked on my uncle’s computer and put some anti virus in it.

What’s your favorite restaurant?
Impossible to answer for me. Recently I have a Sushi place that is pretty default, but Los Comales just has so much awesome Mexican food… oh and The Works… Gyros!

Last time you swam in a pool?
Did not swim but actually dipped my toes in the pool at the hotel Ann and Dave were staying when they visited Chicago a couple of weeks ago. Gym decisions at the moment are being weighted based on pool availability. I want to start doing laps again, but I have not done them since high school.

Have you ever been in a school play?
Yeap, and I have actually considered joining a theater group. Actually checked a website just last week.

Type of music you dislike most?
Not just country… any kind of music that is too drowning in my tears and depressing annoys me. Upbeat country music is cool.

Are you registered to vote?

Do you have cable?

Do you have a garden?
No but I have somehow taken over watering duty… wait a minute, how did that happen?
Have you ever won a trophy?
Martial arts medals at tournamets. I am almost tempted to commute to my old school on weekend! It has been over 7 years since I trained with Master Jang.

Are you a good cook?
I think I am above average, my wife is excellent!

Ever order an article from an infomercial?
Yes I was scammed by the ab electrocution system. Surprisingly it works, but it cannot be good for you… I wonder where the heck that thing ended, that was an awesome party prop. I think Pictionary would be taken to a whole new level if you had to draw wearing that thing.

Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love?
Well I found true love already, so can I get a million now? (Love always)

Native Roots

Since Bea and I are going through Dexter withdrawals when it comes to TV we have been watching all The Office episodes we have available in Netflix. We rarely watch live TV now (except for the Hawks games) since we have so much available via Netflix. I am a documentary junkie and while most people will fall to sleep during some of the ones I watch. This weekend included The Mark of Cain and one of my new guilty pleasures (the marriage of documentaries with “reality tv) 30 days.

30 Days is a great show from the dude that stuffed his face with McDonalds and brought painful memories of my years as a burger flipper. I have seen most of season 1 and I started working on season 3. My favorite show until this weekend was when a Minute Man was sent to live for 30 days with a family of Illegal immigrants. However this weekend I watched as Morgan spent 30 days in an Indian Reservation.

My involvement with Native Americans outside of some extended family and friends that have percentages of native blood but have never been in a reservation; has been limited to a professional relationship with the Pottawatomie tribe while I worked on some of their computer systems. I never made it into the reservation when I was up there, and all of the facilities I visited were “luxurious.” Everyone I worked with up there in northern Wisconsin was extremely nice and it was very interesting to see how their facial features were extremely similar to people down many in Colombia.

My ancestry is hard to track, I know there are roots of many colors in both sides of my parents. One of those sides I did not learn about until I was 12 years old when I met some of my Mom’s distant relative during a summer trip. We spent some time up in a mountain in a small coffee town and I had the chance to learn about not just how coffee grows but also how a cow makes it in to a burger. A lot of the people I met up in Wisconsin looked eerily similar to some of my not so distant relatives. It makes sense, they are also in some ways Native Americans… you know the whole continent was at one point full of them.

My other weird coincidental connection with a tribe is interestingly enough the Navajo. I have extreme astigmatism, without my glasses I have a hard time focusing on detail. One of my ophthalmologist after letting me know that my eye color is actually pretty rare (gold and olive, her words, not mine) told me that she has only seen my level of astigmatism in one population before, the Navajo. A little research (google search) showed me that in fact the Navajo have a high occurrence of astigmatism, and while some of it can be environmental it seems that it is also genetic.

Genetics is a topic for another post, interesting subject for sure that I would like to learn more about beyond what I know from reading a lot about amateur fish breeding at one point. The thing that really stuck with me from the Navajo show though was the fact that the people from the tribe are stuck in two world with two cultures. I can relate to that quite a bit. One of the ladies that taught the language actually cried at the thought that her native language is disappearing. Also interesting was their view of mother earth and how connected they are to things that to the modern world seems to simply ignore.

I don’t know if I will ever get to discover where my roots really come from genetic wise or not, but it makes me somewhat sad that I have embraced civilization and I am almost allergic to the outdoors. Being connected to the earth we live in is not such a bad thing… who knows maybe some day I will actually get into the grove of a morning run to go face the sun before I start the day.