Firstly, Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Gong hei fat choi!
It is the Year of the Monkey and has been described a year that you either need to swing through the trees by taking opportunities and bounding over challenges or let your worries and stress hold you back and mean you fall rather than reach the next branch. In traditional Chinese times, the New Lunar Year celebration continues for fifteen days up to the full moon. To mark this this year, I am going to give a ‘红包’ (hóngbāo) – red envelope – to someone each day. In return I’m asking for the best piece of advice they’ve followed or the favourite saying that always manages to make them happy or encourage them to carry on.
Today, as I had stayed with them over the weekend, I chose my grandparents to be the first. ‘春节’ (chūnjié) – spring festival/chinese new year – is the most important time to be with family, so it’s only appropriate that family get to be first. I’m using an old photo of them because I presented the idea to them at 8:30am this morning and as my grandpa was still in bed, I thought it would be cruel to ask them for a picture with a the envelope…
Grandma’s advice was:
It’s always difficult to take that as good advice because it more often than not makes us wonder: “yeah, but how do we be happy?” Grandma continued to say that she knows that even she has grumpy moments however being happy means we have way more positive things, thus are able to be more positive, than being susceptible to negativity. If we’re happy it means that anything we do is going to be twice as easy as struggling through it. Happy = having a happy environment made up of people who are good for us, doing at least one thing everyday that makes us happy, etc etc.
My grandpa took a little longer to think of one:
Do what you love.
This actually made me think of all the lessons written about in ’52 Cups of Coffee’ and how each person’s story has landed them doing – in some way – what they love. They struggled, failed, had to rethink and change strategies and even stumbled across their outcomes and where they are now but a series of events that have unfolded.
My grandpa is adamant that following your own intuition and making every choice based on what your gut instinct says is right is ultimately right for you. If you want to be a lawyer, doctor, photographer, teacher, that’s great! Pursue it and find the role within that will make you happy and want to do it for as long as you live. As that’s what he did as a deputy headteacher. Granted: he is two generations above me and times were different, but the pressures of getting a job and earning lots of money hasn’t changed.
Both my grandparents are people that have worked hard throughout their lives, raised four children (and they’re all pretty sane) and have hosted a few Christmas lunches with around 22 people present… I admire them both greatly and are both my idols in life. If I can grow up to be anything like them – having the boundless energy, the biggest hearts & welcoming home – I’ll know that I’ve done what I loved and have been happy.
So that’s the 红包 of today. I hope you all check out something Chinese – searching on Youtube, eating Chinese food or checking out a local Chinese New Year event. Or just say ‘Happy New Year’ to your friends and family
If you want to say ‘happy new year’, it is
新年快乐! (xīnnián kuàile)
The ‘le’ is pronounced as ‘ler’
Lots of love,