Lessons I Learned from Living Abroad-#5


232131hhThis post will be the fifth and final lesson I learned while living abroad. But I can promise you that it won’t be the last time I post about China. I mean, will I ever stop posting about China?…probably not.

I saved this certain lesson for last because all of the lessons I wrote about before this one helped me to learn this one.

  1. We think we know a lot, until we are proven wrong.
  2. Our happiness can not depend on other people.
  3. Everyone’s outlook on everything is defined differently.
  4. We don’t realize how comfortable we are, until we’re not.
(if you’re interested in reading about any of these, they are all under the lifestyle tab)

And last but not least,

Happiness does not come from things.

I know what you’re thinking.

“Wow Wren you did it again, typed another cliche phrase that we all already knew.”

But, do you know? I didn’t. Like most of the lessons I learned, I thought I understood what it meant. I thought I was living my day to day life knowing that our happiness can not be defined by things and stuff. I’ve never been one to care about fancy clothes or having a new car. I’ve always been a pretty happy person without them.


What I didn’t realize is how much my happiness was dependent on other certain things. And like lesson number 2, I learned very quickly that once these things were taken away from me, I had to learn to be happy without them.

Driving my car, having an income, being able to have a variety of food options (including mexican food), indoor heating and AC, a soft bed, good coffee, puppy cuddles, cooking a meal, my bath tub, being able to see the moon and stars..and sunsets, reading signs, billboards, and menus, knowing my way around my home town, and when I didn’t being able to ask for directions. I could go on, but you get the point.

All of these things are the most simple things. And that’s just what they are, little simple things that I once took advantage of. I used to say “oh I would DIE without Mexican food or a good cup of coffee” but guess what? I lived. And guess what else? I found happiness with out them.

It’s funny how happiness works. Once one thing that makes us happy is taken away, we search for, and usually find, happiness in something else. I found it in the feeling of being uncomfortable, in the compliments I constantly got from locals, and in constantly expanding my knowledge on the beautiful culture I was living in. I found it in the kids I taught, in the beautiful places I traveled to, and in the strangers who quickly became friends. Even though just about everything and everyone that once made me happy was gone, I learned to find happiness in other things and most importantly, I learned to find happiness within myself.

And that is the lesson here.

You can think, “oh I will be happy when I have a new house, when I find the love of my life, when I can save money to travel, when I finally have the body I want.”

You can also think “oh I would never be happy if I didn’t have all of this money, or all of these clothes, or this perfect body, or these certain friends.”


But, none of that is true. Because when it comes to happiness, none of those things contribute to it. Yes, they may affect our happiness to a certain extent and having them or not can alter our happiness at the time, but happiness comes from a different place. I am sorry I can’t give you instructions on how to find it, but I know it’s somewhere between your head and your heart, and even when you have the bare minimum; food, water, shelter, and someone who cares about you, you can find it.

And I know that for a fact now.


So, continue to search for that place. Appreciate the little simple things that make you happy at the moment. Try not to compare your happiness to anyone else’s or think about the things that could possibly make you happier. Because even though you think they matter, they don’t contribute to your over all happiness and it is possible to be completely happy with out them. I promise.

Onto the next adventure, Wren

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