Do you have the guts to be happy? | Sue-Ellen Watts | No Plan B
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Do you have the guts to be happy?

For anyone who follows me they will know I recently started surfing and I am well and truly HOOKED! Many of my FB posts have been about my new found love and the progress I am making on my quest to become a ‘proper’ surfer (that’s proper not pro)!

Initially I made the commitment to have 2 lessons every week for a month. I wanted to use this time to focus on mental health, re-connect to nature and make the most of my recent sea-change. My only goal was to give it my all and at the end of the month I would then decide if i like it and want to continue, or if I pay my money, thank my instructor and mark it down as something that’s not really for me.

It didn’t take long for me to realise that surfing is for me. When you are excited to jump out of bed on cold mornings in the dark and throw a wetsuit and uggboots on you know you love it.

So I bought myself a board, a couple more wetsuits, and commenced stage 2 of my training. Learning to paddle properly, sit on my board, read the waves, understand the tides, drop into the wave, move up and down the board, and reduce the impact of getting smashed! This all sounds very standard to any surfer I am sure, and I have a long way to go, years in fact until I am close to being at the level I want to be.   But I am also learning some interesting life lessons too.

Introducing my instructor. She is from Argentina and she has been surfing most of her life.  Not only is she an incredible instructor – she listened to my goal (‘get me out the back and surfing like a real surfer, no shortcuts and I don’t care how long it takes’!) but she is also a great role model for happiness.

Recently we were bobbing in the surf waiting for the perfect wave and she shared with me her story, which in a nut shell is that she does what makes her happy. For her surfing makes her happy.

5 years ago she left her home and her family to explore the world and surf.  It sounded like her family are quite well off and wanted to set her up with a very comfortable life (nice apartment, car, anything she needed). But as she told her father, that’s wasn’t what she wanted. She shared with me a conversation she had with her dad (who sounds like a wonderful supportive man himself) where he asked her what is she going to do with her life. Her siblings had both followed traditional professional careers and were setting themselves up for a comfortable future. She responded to him with something like this ‘dad, instead of worrying about what you will tell your friends about how successful your daughter is, when they ask you what I am, tell them I am happy’! (I love this!)

She went on to share that the last time she left home to head to Australia, she had only her surf board and $450, that was it! Her dad slipped her a credit card as she was getting ready to leave just in case she got into trouble. As he was waiting in the car preparing to take her to the airport she quickly ran upstairs and left the credit card under her dads pillow. She was going to do what made her happy, she backed herself and she knew she would be fine!

She walked away from security, support, comfort, and safety nets to do what she loves. Surf. We all say that ultimately we just want to be happy but how many of us are really prepared to let go of what we know and are comfortable with to truly have happiness?

I have had many discussions with people about what is not right in their life and what they want. Never have I heard anyone say that they want something that is not possible. In fact in most cases what would make them happy is easily available to them. 

So perhaps our search for happiness is not so much a search after all. We tend to know what would make us happy but we just don’t want to give up what we know and what makes us safe.  Could safety be more important to us than happiness?  I hope not for me anyway.

I am excited to learn more about surfing and life from my inspiring instructor who to me is the epitome of courage. Unlike most of us she has the guts to be happy!