A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
First of all: Happy New Year to everyone celebrating Chinese New Year’s Day! And to everyone else, too! I feel this is a good day to think about New Year’s resolutions again, since for many international students who have been arriving these days, a new year starts quite literally: a new phase of your life, living in a new town, with new friends and possibly on the way to get a new view on the world! How awesome!
In her lovely post One Hundred Happy Days!, Gemma recently already posted about her resolutions for 2014: Bring more happiness in your and other peoples’ lives! That is a fantastic intention, and I think it doesn’t harm to talk about this once more. Do you also intend to become a happier person in the new year? Well, here is the good news: You are in the perfect town for this!
As I cannot emphasise often enough, Leiden is a town that can constantly surprise you. Some random (probably rainy) day last autumn I was sitting in one of my favourite cafés, Borgman&Borgman, and got a fortune cookie with my coffee. The cookies were freshly baked and had a lovely little message (“If it feels like everything is resisting, think anew!”). As I found out, the café took part in the geluksroute, the route of happiness/luck. This project follows the life-rule that “Happiness is only real, when shared”, and takes place once a year in Leiden, Haarlem and Amsterdam. Many cafés, restaurants, shops, people and organisations take part and offer a variety of happiness-experiences: free hugs, yoga, flowers, messages and massages, cakes, and many other things.
And last weekend, surprisingly, I came across the geluksroute again! I escaped my books and studies for an afternoon to go for a walk with a friend. We went to Cronesteyn, a lovely polderpark just outside the centrum of Leiden, which I can just highly recommend to everyone who is craving some green and silence once in a while. As soon as the weather gets nicer I will go there again to take some pictures for you. A walk with a good friend is already quite a happiness-bringing thing, but it got better: We stumbled upon a mini-geluksroute-event!
Around and within the ‘tea room’ (I like that it doesn’t call itself café) De tuin van de smid, the whole day was dedicated to “happiness-tasting” (geluksproeverij), with readings, meditations, world music and many other workshops. I think activities like these are such a lovely reminder that it is so important to care for your own and each others well-being. One way to think about this is the “one minute of nothing” practice that was suggested on a little card attached to a green chair that stood in the middle of the path towards the tea room. You were supposed to take a seat and make a little “film of nothing” for one minute – and “maybe you will discover something new about yourself and the world”.
I followed the invitation and took a little video; and now I would like to pass the invitation on and ask you to watch it and during this one minute think about what you can actually and actively do to be a happier person and to make other people happy in the new year, which always starts today!
P.S.: I just noted that this year’s geluksroute of Haarlem is actually taking place this weekend (1.-2. February)! And the program is promising! So maybe you take a train to Haarlem tomorrow and are inspired to “collect moments, not things”.