On Happiness, Wrinkles, and Byron Bay

For almost six years now I have been living out my existence in Byron Bay, a town where people have a fierce sense of protection for the land, the ocean, how things have been. Where the word chakra is not shied away from in taboo, where friends surf their asses off and breathe in the sunsets for christmas day celebrations (that’s why some of us are ass-less and glowing). Where beautiful wrinkly old people – with more wrinkles than skin – are held in such high respect; in the waves that border this beautiful place, on the beach where they greet the morning sun in salutation, in the groups of learning around the shire. Byron still has spirit, it still has a fierce burning soul and the people I know hold it so close to their hearts with a sureness that it has something magical. “…it’s just got this___feeling, you know? I’ve been so many places in the world but this one is so beautiful”- then they chuck down the cup of tea they brewed up and held in one hand while driving ocean-ward and run out to get in the waves. All before 5:55am.

In my life so far, I haven’t seen so many people in one place over 50 running – board in hand, eyes bright and happy-like – jumping out of vans, minivans, corolla’s, beetle cars or utes just to catch those few good waves. And maybe this happens so many other places in the world, call me unseasoned, say I haven’t seen much of the world. But it makes me so entirely happy, so freely happy that sometimes I laugh out-loud to myself because I don’t want to contain this much happiness. For me it is magical to see someone with beautiful aged hair, a lightness to their step with vibrant eyes like squirrels containing so much youth after so many years of experience and learnings. After loss and growth and love and pain, to see their eyes still shining with whatever glorious light it is that so many of them have.

I read this beautiful article written by an Indian Spiritual Leader – Inyat Khan (I am mailed a beautiful reminder of awareness and wisdom each week by a website called ) that basically states that one shapes their own happiness by what they find beautiful. There is no good or evil/bad (however you wish to describe unpleasant happenings) in the world, but rather we decide something is good if, for us, it holds beauty – and evil/bad if it holds none. What I received in this message was the fact that there is no one formula, way, recipe or steps to becoming a happy person (which I’m sure so many of you have heard so much already) because every person will see beauty in different things, in different ways for different reasons and because of this, find happiness in so many different ways. So yes, there are certain ways you can build a foundation for happiness, and these ways seem to be congruent and supportive for most people – e.g. eating whole foods, exercising, being with/around people one admires, having a purpose/goal in life – but after all that, you create your happiness.

Example :You and your bestie see the same thing at the same time, say – a bay with perfect glassy sets coming through, and you have JUST the right boards for the wave – you both see so much beauty in this,you’re feeling the stoke etc. bc it’s totally rad. But ultimately you will both see this beauty in different ways because of how you were raised, where you came from and who influenced you throughout life while you were growing up. (Think Social Science, the forming of ones Identity etc.)

My point is, I have finally realised that (where realisation for me is that moment of stillness – after thinking fiercely and finding no answer for a godawful amount of time – where your every cell comes to know that you now know what you have read or seen or thought “ooh maybe that could be true” but weren’t too sure. It is – for me – this light happiness where I know this is one learning that will stay with me forever because the more constant part of my being in this ever-changing body and mind has fully realised and knows that wisdom) my happiness depends solely on me. Full stop. My choices in life are either to increase happiness or decrease my happiness and after having realised this I have realised also that it is my responsibility to create my happiness. (but still have days I don’t choose that, and then it is just a matter of being kind to self and realising that things take time) So happiness is a choice, and every morning I have begun to wake up and ask myself “What creates happiness for me?”.

Going to the beach in the early dawn, when the sun hasn’t slipped yet over the horizon, grey fog still lingers on every weave of my three-size-too-big cosiest jumper, when the air is fresh and mellow and my body is still in it’s half-awake slumber, after having a ginger-and-lemon-with-hot-water tea… Going to the beach in the early morning dusk and seeing so much happiness and beauty, in their eyes and wrinkles and liveliness, how they chatter away like the birds trilling in the Pandanus. How they have come to love the ocean and everything it can bring is something that for me holds so much beauty, so much joy. I have found a place to be still, I have found peace. And I will stay.

I have been living in Byron Bay for six years and have seen it change, enlarge, become noisier and busier and I still love so much of it.

Please leave thoughts, comments and feedback below

Jo xx


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