7

Time to Say Goodbye…For Now

My happy, amazing readers,

The time has come for me to close this wonderful chapter of my online presence and reflect on what I have achieved so far. I started this blog as part of my Multimedia Journalism class but it grew up to be something bigger…for me. It helped me learn important lessons about myself, find new friends and rediscover some old ones (: Now, I would like to invite you to walk this journey together once again by remembering some of the most memorable steps towards discovering happiness.

10626671_814414365290377_2194783186467717265_n

If you remember well, the goal that I initially set for this blog was to “discover the formula for eternal, autonomous, pure happiness” by asking as many people as possible WHAT MAKES THEM HAPPY. Throughout this journey I tried to decode the reasons behind the happiness (or unhappiness) of each of my interviewees. Although their answers to my questions varied greatly there was still a tiny, almost invisible thread that united them all. That reminded me how amazing we humans are – we all are different in so many aspects and yet when it comes to our feelings those differences tend to disappear. https://reinventhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/create-your-own-happiness/

2014-10-21 16.00.28

I started this experiment by interviewing Asparuh Krastev. The fact that I had known him for quite a long time resulted in me (subconsciously) directing his answers and pushing him to uncover more personal details about himself. I did not realize that until he got mad at me and refused to answer any further questions. Nevertheless, it all ended well and I eventually managed to get some personal “confessions” out of him. The thing that I was most proud of was making him admit how much he loved his cats (and dogs (: ).  Most importantly, the lesson that I learned from him was that in order to be happy you need to always trust your intuition. https://reinventhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/follow-your-intuition/

10502037_1480718805502268_3154462779442078111_n

Then, Desislava Tarnarova taught me how I needed to appreciate the little things in life and be grateful for what I have been given. In fact, after this interview I started posing this question to all of my interviewees – “What are you grateful for?” And I got some really intriguing answers – it turned out that ALL of them were most grateful for their families. This took me one step further towards “decoding” happiness. I realized that maintaining a good and healthy relationship with your family is an essential factor towards achieving true happiness. https://reinventhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/be-grateful/

Modeling ;)

Modeling 😉

What impressed me the most about Daniel Manov` s interview was the argument we had. Like most of my interviewees he listed his family as one of the things he was most grateful for. However, he went even further by claiming that one should always put the family first. I guess that most people would automatically agree with that statement, which serves to prove how little thinking they have put into it. Here (risking to sound egocentric) I dared to contradict this by insisting that you should always put YOURSELF first. And that is no egoistic at all! Think about the people you love the most –would you be happy to know that they are constantly sacrificing something in order to please you? Well, the feeling goes both ways. The golden mean here would be trying to act in a way that does not harm others as well as it does not harm you (and no, it is not as easy as it sounds). https://reinventhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/ice-cream-and-puppies/

After all this seriousness going on I had a good laugh with my next three interviewees.

10719504_941289082552970_477371534_n

Petar Valkov is a delight to be around (when he is in a good mood of course). The lesson that I learned from him was that in order to be happy I need to stop trying to please everyone. Instead of constantly worrying how you might look in the eyes of others, sometimes you just need to loosen up, be yourself and be weird. For inspiration, you might want to re-watch the video with Petar and see how it`s done 🙂 https://reinventhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/smile-to-a-complete-stranger-and-laugh-about-their-reaction/

10153957_10203556515297186_134755190_n (1)

My next interviewee that made me laugh even harder was my best friend from high school – Stefani Mitova. Apart from having fun remembering the good old times, we had some serious talk, too. Stefani shared with me her proven method of coping with stress and depression. When you are feeling down, she says, try to recall the happiest moment of your childhood. I have to admit I was already aware of this method, but hey, we are besties, we think alike! https://reinventhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/the-child-that-will-hopefully-never-grow-up/

10461728_10152469691052091_257314267100324638_n

The culmination of all of this was Gabriela Grebenarska. Believe me this girl would crack you up, too. She is one of the most free-spirited, wild and hilarious people that I know. Her confession about mistaking goat poop for candy as a child, the video we shot and just her presence in the room made me laugh so hard that I could hardly catch my breath. On top of this, she even contributed to another lesson on my journey to happiness. Gabriela made me realize that one should never wait for the good things to happen, but instead MAKE them happen. https://reinventhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/forget-the-future-carpe-diem/

Thus, the pieces of the puzzle were slowly but surely coming at their places. The only thing that I was still missing was a different perspective. I needed to interview someone who had a contrasting opinion, someone who did not consider herself happy and then find out the reason behind this condition.

1208707_10201445381271037_890145592_n

And there she was – Tsvetelina Miteva – an ambitious over-achiever that was never satisfied with her results. I figured out that the reason behind her “unhappiness” was not her life, nothing that was really missing, but just her mindset. To her, it was all about competing and comparing herself to others or even to herself from the past (or what she expected to become in the future). Living under such a pressure really takes the color away from life. That is how I came to the conclusion that one needs to step out of this kind of competition and just look at the sky, “smell the roses” as they say. That`s it.https://reinventhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/the-nonconformist/

“Man is unhappy because he doesn’t know he’s happy; only because of that.” Dostoevsky

In the end, after learning all these lessons about life and happiness, I just needed to stop for a moment and think.

Trust your intuition +  Appreciate the little things + Get along with your family + Put yourself first – Stop trying to please everyone + Cherish your childhood memories – Don`t wait for happiness + Make it happen – Stop competing = Happiness ?

Is that it – the ultimate formula for achieving eternal, autonomous, pure happiness? Well, I guess not. But it may be a part of it. The most important thing here is to know when to stop and have a break. As my friend Lyuboslav Atanasov taught me – sometimes you just need to take it easy, relax and get immersed in an activity that makes you feel complete (a hobby if you like; such as soccer).  https://reinventhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/passionate-soccer-fan-and-wine-connoisseur-could-that-be-the-same-person/

w14winemakesyouhappy

So cheers with a glass of wine… and goodbye, dear readers.  I am taking a break but may be back again should I get inspired or accidently discover a component that would complete my unfinished Happiness formula.

P.S. It was a pleasure to have you as readers! Thank you for your interest and support throughout the semester!

LOVE,

Ilina

5

Passionate Soccer Fan and Wine Connoisseur – Could That Be the Same Person?


IMG_5328

First of all, I feel obliged to make one small clarification connected to the headline of this post. Depending on where you come from, your idea of the “passionate soccer fan” may vary. If you happen to come from Bulgaria though you must have inevitably come across those “a little too loud”, cynical, energetic beings (most often males) usually moving in large groups chanting the name of their favorite team while consuming large amounts of alcohol and damaging all kinds of public property on their way.  And God forbid you display even the slightest evidence of supporting the opposing team, because in that case you are going home with at least one broken limb.

The wine connoisseur, on the other hand, is a sophisticated, well-educated and intelligent human being who appreciates the diversity of wine types and takes pleasure in tasting them (but is never a drunkard).

Now that you can already see the contradiction between these two characters you must definitely realize that the combination of them in one single person is impossible. What is possible though is the combination of some of their characteristics. So I present to you Lyuboslav Atanasov – a passionate Liverpool fan that happens to know a bit about wine, too 🙂

IMG_5323

Before you jump to any conclusions, I can assure you that Lyuboslav is neither cynical, nor aggressive. On the contrary, he is one of the finest young gentlemen that I have the pleasure of knowing. That makes him a non-typical soccer fan for sure.

About himself, he claims to be quite satisfied with his life so far and optimistic about the future, too. You already know about two of his greatest passions – soccer and wine, so you would not be surprised to learn these are the things that make him happy right now. However, something that surprised ME was the moment in his life that he regards as “the happiest.” Well, it was during a football game of his favorite team…

“The happiest moment of my life was when I watched the Champions League Final in 2005, when Liverpool beat AC Milan on penalties, after they were down with 3-0 at halftime. It was such a great moment, because after halftime I went directly to bed bitterly disappointed, but eventually got up and decided to continue watching. It was the best decision of my life. I cried in the end.”

Although I am sure Lyuboslav has had plenty of happier experiences in his life, I wish him even more of them for the future…

1391949_653000661387555_1352919464_n

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for (even though you maybe didn`t realize it :))!…The most challenging experience in Lyuboslav` s life was back at the time he used to go to CHURCH SCHOOL. That`s right, church school (I did not misspell anything)! And the weirdest thing is that it was his own decision to enroll in it, his parents just approved it. It is quite an entertaining story so I am going to tell it from the beginning.

IMG_5333

It was in the second grade when a guest lecturer came to Lyuboslav` s class (still in public school) and started talking about faith and God and how you need to be a good Christian in order to go to heaven. He and his friend were half-listening and understandably quite bored (after all, why would an eight year old care about going to heaven). Then suddenly they heard the magic word that would inevitably grab the attention of any child – “excursion to the seaside.” From then on it was decided – they would enroll in the church school that this nice man was talking about and he would take them to the seaside where they could swim and dive, and build sand castles all day long. And so they did. Each Sunday, Lyuboslav and his friend would go to the church school together with many other children of their age and would sing and pray to God for the salvation of their souls. Finally, the summer came and their “dream” was about to come true. They packed their swimsuits, beach balls and towels and headed to the Aegean seaside in Greece. There was a special boarding house reserved for the children of the church school – true, it felt a little gloomy in there, but no other house could beat that view. You could directly see the sandy beach and the crystal blue waters of the sea that were inviting you to jump in.

As impatient as the children were to go into the sea, they were not allowed to. As committed followers of the Orthodox Church they had to sit and listen to solemn prayers and songs in Greek (although they did not speak and could not understand a word of that language). The same procedure repeated day after day until the children lost all hope that they would be able to at least sink their feet into the water.

In the end, Lyuboslav and his friend returned home from the seaside without even wetting their swimsuits and they swore they would never visit “God`s home” again.

Although Lyuboslav classifies this as a rather traumatizing experience from his childhood he could not help bursting out in laughter several times as he was telling me the story. So the moral here is – remember that time cures everything and…never trust a preacher man 😉

6

The Nonconformist

1208707_10201445381271037_890145592_n

Dear readers,

As the end of the semester is approaching I finally decided to introduce you to this very intriguing person who could have you laughing tears and at the same time strongly insist she is not happy. Tsvetelina Miteva is of this rare species that is both, hilarious and extremely thoughtful and self-absorbed.

After all these happy people I have interviewed I got used to getting very similar answers to my questions and one question in particular: “Do you consider yourself a happy person?” To most of us, the answer is intuitive: “Of course I do! (Who the hell are you to question this?)” However, this time the answer really got me silenced.

Actually I don’t [consider myself a happy person]. I know it may sound strange, but I always think that what I have received is enough but what I have done to deserve it is not. I am just not like the other people.

In fact nobody is really “like the other people,” but Tsvetelina is among those who do stand out…And I have to admit, she is one of the most extraordinary, ambitious young people that I know. She always NEEDS to be perfect and exceptional in everything she does and would never stop competing…with herself. That is a huge burden for sure! Her philosophy about life is something that I oppose from the bottom of my heart, so I will just give you the full quotation (otherwise I risk to make a biased paraphrase :))

12548_4767797747445_182266215_n

Life is like a long marathon. You are the one on the last row. You have to run and get to, if not the first, at least to one of the first places. How can you do that? Run! Don’t look back, because if you do, somebody can surpass you. If somebody falls, help him, but don’t push anybody. You may reach your goal, you may not. But you have to run the marathon.

And because this is my blog I will dare to express my humble opinion on the matter. Constantly competing with something (time, yourself, or your friends) will always inevitably be on the way of your happiness. In order to be happy, one first needs to be free. As long as you are “running a marathon” you are not free. You are just playing the game of someone else. Dare to set your own rules! Stop comparing yourself to others and thinking of what you should have achieved. You ARE unique in your whole existence – your mind is unique, your body is unique, YOUR SOUL is unique! Keep reminding that to yourself. Take a deep breath and step out of the marathon – this is the only way for you to actually WIN – by NOT competing.

10635740_10204522504677199_8999018155924860660_n

After this short lecture :), let us get back to Tsvetelina. Although she keeps insisting she is not happy, she shared with me one of her happiest childhood memories. It was when she won a bike…in a competition…again (:…When I asked her if she could think of a time she was happier than that, she admitted that she was the happiest when she was a child. Not because there hasn`t been anything to make her happy recently, but because she (as most of us) used to appreciate the small things when she was younger.

The things that make her happy now are her nephew, love and even homeless dogs on the streets 🙂 Despite claiming she is not an optimist, Tsvetelina concluded with quite an optimistic statement in my opinion (:

I am grateful that I am given the chance to live every single day of my life. There are few moments when I realize that I should be really thankful that I can breathe, talk, smile, that I can just be part of that strange and messy world. But when I do think of it I feel special, and this is what every person should do: feel special because they can live.

So be grateful for being given the chance to live once again!

Love,

Ilina

 

 

1

Childhood Memories and How to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

screenshot

Hey happy people!

Today in MMJ we learned about a very innovative way of telling stories. It is called Storify, a method for composing stories out of short posts in social networks such as Twitter, images, videos and absolutely anything available on the World Wide Web. The first story I created is a sequence of drawings and tweets that illustrate the development of children as artists since a very young age – including the first time they held a pencil. It is amazing how unique the images children`s imagination creates are.

To see the full story go to: https://storify.com/inventhappiness/childhood-memories-in-storify

screenshot2

My second story is about public speaking fear (the topic that I touched in my blog post today about Gabriela https://reinventhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/forget-the-future-carpe-diem/

Click the link to find out what is the best way to overcome the fear of public speaking! https://storify.com/inventhappiness/overcoming-fear-of-public-speaking-in-storify

Furthermore, I learned how to use another amazing new tool to tell a story through a picture. In Thinglink, unlike Storify, you use a single picture to provide a huge amount of information through tags (or links) that direct the user to diverse websites. To illustrate what I am talking about, I am giving you a link to an image with multiple links that I designed via Thinglink. https://www.thinglink.com/scene/589460584664137730

screenshot3

It is again related to my post from today, but this time takes a broader perspective on how to step out of your comfort zone. It will teach you to understand what the boundaries of your comfort zone are, how to step out of it, and many more!

Have a wonderful day,

Ilina

5

Forget the Future. Carpe Diem!

10461728_10152469691052091_257314267100324638_n

It`s been a while since I haven`t laughed THAT hard! Gabriela Grebenarska has some comedy talent for sure. If you have met her, you must know what I mean…A junior at AUBG, but a freshman at radio AURA, she has just what it takes to charm the audience and make them demand more and more of her on air. Gabriela is one of those people who somehow always manage to bring a smile on your face, no matter how bad your day has been.

While enjoying the pleasure of hosting AURA`s afternoon show with her, I also managed to ask her some questions on the topic that currently intrigues me the most.

IMG_5274

So far I have interviewed quite a few people about what makes them happy, but none of them has given me nearly as complete and emotional answer.

“I am grateful for my brain, my legs […] my arms…and my voice right now. I am also grateful for the flowers and the trees outside […] and for the fall we`re currently observing […]Also for my family, my puppy and my five cats.”

A valuable lesson that life has thought her is to stop WAITING for the “MAJOR” things in life to happen and instead MAKE them HAPPEN. And in the meantime – try to enjoy “the little minor things” to their fullest.

“I used to wait for certain things in my life to make me feel good and happy[…] But I realized if you just keep waiting for something to happen in order to feel happy, at some point […] your life [will be] over… Because these things happen very rarely and while waiting for them you waste so many other things.”

As an example she points out the time at high school when she used to just WAIT for the weekends to come in order to start being happy again. However, it was at AUBG where she realized that made no sense at all. She decided to be brave and start living the life she deserved. By noticing all the small things that were worth admiring she learned to be more open to the world. That is how she ended up in the radio, too.

10659434_835879186445630_5158450153573186553_n

Gabriela decided it was time for her to face one of her greatest fears – public speaking. Although she admits she is still scared of being judged by the public, she takes some brave steps to overcome those negative feelings. Being part of the radio, she says, has helped her a lot in achieving her goal. After each show, she feels more and more confident and has now come to actually enjoy speaking to her audience.

About her childhood, she shared a hilarious story that you can hear in the video below. Believe me, it is worth it!

Finally, Gabriela`s advice to you guys is to stop worrying too much about the future and instead concentrate on what is happening now and enjoy every single thing that you can! To that I would just add, DARE to be different, crazy and weird and stop judging yourself too harshly.

P.S. Do not forget to watch the video and have a good laugh (:

4

No Solution => No Problem

1374922_10200896861680891_1513879240_n

Whoever knows me is familiar with my lightheadedness and my carefree nature. When I need to get something done I must inevitably do it in the last possible minute. Otherwise it wouldn`t be me. However, it is ironical how in exactly those “last minutes” something terrible happens and prevents me from achieving the ultimate goal of… doing my homework.

But first, let me tell you what happened on Friday (because it all started then). I was supposed to go on a team building with my amazing friends from Radio AURA. I had my room reserved and I had already requested a vegetarian menu. The bus was leaving at 7pm.  The clock showed 4:15pm when something struck me. Call it guilt, consciousness, or intuitionsome thin, faint voice whispered to me “Don`t go. You`ve got more important stuff to do here.”

So I decided to listen to it. Of course, it was a coincidence that exactly that weekend I had to study for two midterms and had two projects to finish with.  After chatting up some friends, checking my Facebook, my Twitter and my e-mail, and preparing dinner for my boyfriend (with whom I live) I finally opened my Marketing Research textbook.

When I looked at the clock once again it was 10:30pm and my boyfriend was still not home. I was starting to get worried because every Friday evening he would travel to Sofia and back (for some Drama course he was taking) and he would be home at exactly 10pm. I felt like the time had stopped and started imagining all kinds of terrifying scenarios.

10:45pm: the door opened with a squeak. He was standing there half-alive, pale, with a dreadful look on his face.  It turned out he had eaten something bad and had got food poisoning.

We ended up in the first aid center. After doing some blood tests the doctors decided he had to stay in hospital for an indefinite period of time.

2014-10-18 21.25.16

Here is the time for me to “press” PAUSE. You may wonder what this story has to do with my blog topic. Up until this moment I have been interviewing people about WHAT MAKES THEM HAPPY and I have learned some really valuable lessons. However, I still haven`t shared with you WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY. To be honest, if I had to make a list now it would be so huge that I doubt you would have the patience to get to the end of this article. So I will try to summarize it in one single word: LOVE. If you are lucky enough to have experienced it, you cannot disagree with me. Every single noun, quality, action, state…the whole universe is contained in these four letters. So you are free to conclude that the whole universe is what makes me happy (: And ONE PERSON in this universe in particular

942677_264976063641350_1006479559_n

Remember Asparuh, the guy with multiple pets from the first article?https://reinventhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/follow-your-intuition/ Well, he is the “boyfriend” I am talking about here…and also that “one person” I was referring to (: We have been together for almost six years now (and if you can do the math – yes, since I was in the 10th grade) so we have literally been growing up together. One last thing I would like to add (so you can get the full picture) is that my whole family now lives in the U.S. which means that HE is my family here.

Now let us go back to the hospital. As soon as the doctor told Asparuh he had to stay there, I did not have a single doubt that I would stay with him no matter what. At that time he indeed was in a very serious condition. The nurses started injecting him with all kinds of medications to relieve his pain but it would only get worse. It was a real torture to see him in this condition and knowing I can hardly do anything to help him. Although he insisted that I go home to get some sleep, I refused. In that moment I had forgotten about all of my obligations – the homework, the projects and the midterms. Everything else seemed insignificant.

2014-10-21 16.00.28

Now you may remember my argument with Daniel https://reinventhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/ice-cream-and-puppies/ when he claimed one should make sacrifice for those he loves while I insisted one should always put himself first. At first glance, it may appear to you that I made a sacrifice by staying in the hospital, but that is not anywhere close to the truth. I actually did it for myself, because I NEEDED to be with him in order to calm my fears and convince myself everything would be all right.

And thank God it was! After spending a few days in the hospital, Asparuh started feeling better. It felt like heaven to see his smile again and be able to make him laugh. You know how after you`ve felt some danger hanging over your head, you feel blessed when it goes away. This is what happened with me, too. Suddenly I started appreciating all the little things that I hadn`t noticed before- the colorful leaves on the trees, the chill in the morning that makes his cheeks turn pink and the sweet aroma of home-made linden tea. All of this reminded me of the advice Desislava gave to me several weeks ago https://reinventhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/be-grateful/comment-page-1/#comment-3 – “Appreciate what you already have.”

2014-10-21 16.16.21

When we got home at first – everything seemed like a fairy tale. Although Asparuh was still recovering and I was starting to get sick too, we were happy just to spend time together and take care of each other. However, I was soon forced to get back to reality. While Asparuh was still in the hospital, I managed to get to my professors and write to them about the incident. Unfortunately, I was as naïve as to believe that my personal struggles would touch them. Of course, when I checked my e-mail after getting out of the hospital, none of them had responded to my request to allow me to take the midterm on a different date (as I was still in the hospital when the midterms took place). Who would believe a student`s excuse for not showing up at the midterms anyway?

At first I was really upset because of my professors` “indifference” towards such a sensitive issue for me. However, I remembered a valuable lesson that I learned from Petar https://reinventhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/smile-to-a-complete-stranger-and-laugh-about-their-reaction/ – STOP trying to PLEASE EVERYONE! So I pulled myself together and realized that I should care about the IMPORTANT things in LIFE – the people I love (including myself :)) and excluding midterms, grades and that kind of stuff.

Today my advice to you, dear readers, is to stop worrying about those insignificant problems that may sometimes appear unsolvable. To paraphrase Dalai Lama, if there is a  problem – there is a solution; if there is no solution – there is no problem!

Love,

Ilina

P.S. Check out my summary video to see what made my interviewees happy throughout the semester so far!

0

“Food and Happiness Go Hand in Hand”

Dear readers,

Today my blog post is a bit different from my usual feature-story-like posts. I decided to update you on a recent news concerning food and happiness. Although the news comes from the U.S. I think it in several ways applies to Bulgarian reality as well.

DSC_0520

According to a recent research conducted in Milwaukee, it turns out “The majority of U.S. moms (71 percent) believe the food they eat affects the quality of their lives” and therefore the level of happiness in their families. The results of the survey suggest that there is a growing tendency of thoroughly reading the food ingredients of processed products among U.S. moms. Furthermore, 83% of respondents would like to see more “natural food offerings” in the U.S. market which implies American mothers become more and more knowledgeable on the topic of healthy living.

You can read the whole article here: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/71-u-moms-agree-food-120700762.html

Upon reading this I started thinking about how it relates to my world and ended up interviewing two very responsive young ladies on the subject. What I found particularly interesting was the contrast between their reactions.

DSC_0532

My first interviewee, Lidiya Dimova, expressed her disbelief about the “organic food” trend on the U.S. market. “That is so not true. I mean, this is the U.S. market! We all know that they don`t have natural food. They are just pretending to have natural food…” About herself, she shared she did not have the same problem of wondering about the ingredients in her meals as most of what she ate (“apart from the cake this morning”)  were fruits and vegetables.

DSC_0565

On the other hand, my next interviewee – Boyana Yordanova, completely agreed about the accuracy of the reported trend. When asked about her personal attitude towards healthy eating, Boryana admitted she does not always read the ingredients of the foods she buys. In her case, her concern about natural ingredients “comes and goes in waves.”  There are periods when she gets “excited” about healthy living and starts eagerly examining the content of everything she eats. However, that happens mostly when she realizes her food is “full of preservatives” which makes her pay more attention.
About food and happiness she jokes: “Food is one of the greatest things ever! Especially if it`s very, very unhealthy.”

Oh well…Who am I to judge her? 🙂

What do you think about the correlation between food and happiness? Is it a fact or a myth? What food makes you the happiest? Share your opinions below!
P.S. Don`t forget to check out the slideshow and the awesome video below to find out more about Lidiya`s opinion on the correlation between food and happiness!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.