For some people, happiness is natural because they do what they love. They have a passion for life, and try to enjoy every moment.
Three people from various backgrounds, a police officer, realtor/entrepreneur and social worker shared their ideas on how to make the most of life.
Some say that “following your heart” is the key to a fulfilled life.
In 2008, Tom Barry was the oldest member of the Cancer Society's Tour de Rock; he helped fundraise over $1.6 million for childhood cancer research. As a police officer, he saw hundreds of accidents and troubled teens and adults. Despite Tom’s exposure to the darker side of life, he’s worked to enhance the communities where he’s lived and maintains a positive attitude while living life to the fullest. Family is his first love, but he also believes in finding a passion to give one’s life meaning.
“I've fallen in love with bike riding and it is probably the activity that makes me most happy,” he says.
Tom believes that without following their hearts, people may do things the “right way” only to find out later they’ve chosen the wrong path.
“I think that depression about a life situation is often brought on with being in the wrong relationship and/or job. It is so important that you choose a partner with similar interests and values,” says Tom. “You don't have to be carbon copies, but being able to spend 24/7 together without finding fault, is fantastic.”
Deborah Coburn, a realtor for more than 20 years, agrees that family is very important.
“It was a huge loss for me when my parents passed away within 10 months of each other,” she says. “I rarely spent a day without communicating with them. Now I have wonderful grandchildren, Sydney who is six years old, and Brendan, five years old. I love them beyond words and want to open their worlds to all I can.” Deborah works hard in her profession to give everything she can to her family.
“For me, it is easier to give than to receive. As a child, I was known to give away new crayons and even clothes to someone I felt needed them even more.”
Feeling good about herself and what she does is vital, so Deborah takes time to not only enjoy her family but also work and be playful.
“I try to enjoy every moment,” she says. “I play a game while driving my car. I try to get others driving to smile back at me. It really works!”
Just like Tom, Deborah believes her passion for her career gives her more happiness each day. “Working in real estate fits my personality to a T since I get to help others, as well as challenge myself at the same time.”
Deborah believes she has to push herself continuously, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t happy with herself. She realizes her goals take time to obtain and that patience and persistence help develop her skills in golf, one of her favourite hobbies and her sideline businesses.
Not only does Deborah manage multiple projects, but she also volunteers. Currently, she’s helping with a fashion show fundraiser in support of the Canadian Cancer Society. Deborah has been successful finding silent auction items as well as selling tickets to colleagues and close friends. She’s doing her part to help in the community.
Solange Valiquette moved to Vancouver Island as a single parent. She studied social work at the University of Victoria and has helped cancer patients and survivors for more than 10 years as a peer support co-ordinator with the Canadian Cancer Society. She has been nominated for numerous community achievement awards, and she always has a smile on her face because she knows she's making a difference. CHLY 101.7 FM radio interviewed Solange regarding living on purpose in 2007. The Cancer Society's volunteers look to her for inspiration and motivation, and her positivity helps them continue the fight against cancer. Solange is also the co-founder of ElderSafe Support Services.
Many activities make her happy, including her work but, most importantly, the fond memories and experiences with her family, such as sailing around Vancouver Island and spending one year sailing to Mexico and Hawaii.
“I essentially find that everyday brings its own blessings. My early morning walks when I hear the birds’ symphony celebrating the onset of the spring; walking in the woods, seeing natural beauty around me, and having the ability to capture it in photos,” says Solange. “But what makes me the happiest is having my family around me, my children and grandchildren bouncing with life and joy. That’s true happiness.”
Solange knows people have daily stresses, just like she does, but appreciating the world and the people in it decreases her stress. “I think this is a gift from my mother who had this marvellous sense of wonder,” she says. “I tend to appreciate gifted and kind people, and the many reasons to celebrate life, day after day.”
She thinks that if someone feels depressed, it is important to acknowledge his or her situation and find out what has been helpful in the past, and how to apply some of this information to change the circumstances. “I also suggest that as much as possible they move away from stressful situations and negative people and surround themselves with supportive and caring people,” says Solange. “Finally, try to be grateful for all the little steps toward a happier life.”
NOVEMBER 2009 SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER ISLAND