Three Things A Random Stranger Taught Me About Being Happy

Three Things A Random Stranger Taught Me About Being HappyI met an extraordinary young lady last week in a very bizarre encounter. A friend of a colleague of a sort of online friend – to be honest the connection was so tenuous as I sat in the café waiting to meet this stranger I couldn’t remember why I had volunteered at all – had asked for people to meet/house/feed this friend who was travelling round the world. Why? Because she had some cool story as to why she was travelling, which I couldn’t even recall as I sat there with my decaf macchiato. As I waited in the café on a very rainy Saturday I was wondering why on earth I was there when there were so many other things I could be doing? Random girl. Story I couldn’t even remember. Don’t even really know the friend of the friend of the friend. Waste of time.

So, in bounced Janne. A Dutch girl with an infectious smile and an off the wall story. I am so glad she did. She is truly one of a kind, and she has undertaken the most extraordinary project that, for me, demonstrates some really important principles we can all be inspired by and learn from.

Janne has been travelling round the world for 14 months, 24 countries, 3 continents without a penny to her name. She relies on the goodwill of friends of friends and friends and complete strangers. Her mission is to capture moments of every day happiness, and to illustrate how that looks on every continent. Her method of capturing happy moments – asking people to draw (however artistically challenged they may be) a moment that made them happy in the last 7 days on a postcard. She then collates these on her website

Here’s the things that really stood out for me about this crazy-pants project:

1. Janne trusts absolutely in abundant goodness. She trusts that The Universe will provide. That she will have somewhere to sleep tomorrow. That she will have lunch the day after that. When her laptop got nicked that somehow The Universe will get her a new one (which it did, in under 24 hours). That even with no money and no plan that she will be okay. And she is. Over 500 people have helped her on her journey so far.

I asked her what do you need right now? She said “I need a coat, I had no idea how cold and wet New Zealand would be”. I said I had a Katmandu fleece that I had that very morning cleared out and put in the pile to go to charity, that was in good condition and would definitely fit her if she would like it. She expressed gratitude, but not surprise.

Of course I had a coat for her! She needed one, and The Universe always provided. Her trust in the inherent benevolence of the world and it inhabitants was striking. Things work out because of course they will work out. They always do. So she doesn’t worry about it. She is open to the mysterious and random way the things she needs will make their way towards her. She doesn’t stress about it. She trusts.

2. Janne is the ultimate glass half full person. She fills her glass with tiny moment after tiny moment of happiness and surrenders the big picture. A kind of “if you look after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves” kind of approach to happiness.

She started this project during the loss of her mother. Here is what she has to say about it:

“The only thing we had to do was take care of my mother and enjoy each other’s company as much as we possibly could. July 12th 2007, the day she was cremated, was the best day ever. I wrote down more beautiful moments than ever, just in that one day. Everyone was so loving.”

Isn’t that the most interesting perspective?

And so her project – Seize Your Moment – was born, and it illustrates so beautifully a consciously chosen lens through which to view life that I think we can all take a little something from. Her analogy (below) of the bouncing ball is so powerful it’s something I have spent a lot of time reflecting on:

“I realize how much collecting my own beautiful moments means to me. It is my way of making a world – where there are a lot of minuses – feel like a big plus. After all, these small beautiful moments happen every day, Even if you are having a dark day. Because I focus on these moments – I’m very conscious of them. And because I’m conscious, I have a lot more of them. And then I just think: Hey, there’s another one I have to write down in my journal. When I write them down or read them again, I relive the joy of that moment. Beautiful moments are like bouncing balls. Let go of them and they continue bouncing……”

So, here is a picture of Janne and me, with her “new” fleece on as she sets off on the next leg of her crazy-pants adventure. If you want to support her, offer her a couch to stay on or anything else she might need then you can follow her here:

For me I can sum up our meeting in the following three lessons:

1. The Universe is benevolent and good. Trust, keep moving in the direction of your calling and it will all unfold bringing you the people and assistance you need, perhaps in the most unexpected of ways.

2. Beautiful moments are like bouncing balls … they can be found even in the darkest of times if we look hard enough … and their energy can continue on for as long as we relive them.

3. Random is good. Sometimes a bit of randomness, less planning, less control, can bring some really unexpected good stuff our way.

Louise Thompson

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