Last updated on July 14th, 2022 at 10:01 pm
Sitting in a cafe at the corner of Old Compton Street and Frith Street in Soho, London, I watch the crowds rush by outside. So many wear the “London Uniform,” as I dubbed it, which most often includes a gray or black coat; gray or black boots; tights or jeans or black pants; and often a scarf and cute newsboy type hat, usually worn by a woman.
On this busy corner in Soho, just across from Bar Soho and just a few blocks from the “world’s best bar,” Milk and Honey, the people are beautiful, and look like they come from all over the world in this cosmopolitan, international city.
There are many blondes wearing fur; elegant slim brunettes with silver pumps; beanpole young men in skinny pants and “trainers,” or sneakers, with shaggy hair.
There are straight couples, leaning into one another, sometimes both smoking a cigarette; gay couples, male and female, holding hands in this gay-friendly neighborhood of the city; families dragging little bundled-up children along by their mittened hands; groups or pairs of men walking along covertly eyeing all the lovely women.
There are women in sequined pants and men with high gelled hair-dos; women in colorful tights and short skirts and men in pea-coats or leather jackets; handsome couples with matching coats and glasses. It’s a trip to watch all the fashions walk by, and to observe the faces of the people as they make their way from club to bar to the cafe.
It’s a Saturday night of club-hopping here in Soho, London.
Dinner at “Soho Best Restaurant”
I’d popped over to Cafe Nero on the corner after dinner at The Delhi Brasserie, which the London Evening Standard calls “Soho’s best restaurant.” I’d been thinking of my friends in India all day since my spiritual teacher and dear friend Nithya Shanti got married today.
Last year in January, I was at a wedding in Bareilly, India with Nithya. Wild to see how much can happen in a calendar year! Engagements, weddings, world travels, new work, births… So much had happened in my life and the lives of my friends in 2011.
Today in London, as I traveled through the city on the underground Tube and watched the crowds, I have been thinking back on 2011 and all the magic of that year, feeling grateful for all I had experienced.
I’d launched 2011 in New York City for New Year’s Eve and then headed shortly thereafter to India, where I would spend a month traveling and teaching with my teacher, Nithya. Delhi, Bareilly, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Puttaparthi were among the highlights of my trip.
Really the best of it was the joy of being with friends, making new friends who quickly felt like family, and just soaking up the love, kindness, and hospitality of my hosts in India, who made me feel like an Indian princess. I don’t know that I’ve ever been treated so well!
What A Year!
I traveled to San Francisco twice; San Diego; Dallas; Boston; New York City; Phoenix; Sedona; the Grand Canyon; and Florida, including Fort Myers, St. Petersburg, and Tampa. I met with friends from college; threw a double-surprise birthday party for my parents for their 65th birthdays, and organized a surprise birthday trip to send them to Ireland for St. Patty’s Day.
I would fall in and out of love; join a coaching cohort with Martha Beck to earn my life coaching certification; make new friends and reconnect with old friends. I would experience an “awakening” at the Grand Canyon and meet Eckhart Tolle, one of my heroes and a favorite spiritual teacher, just 1/2 hour later at a gas station by the south entrance to the canyon.
I would come up with the idea of a new book; work on revisions to my first book; update my life coaching business goals; work on a life coaching Website. I would spend Thanksgiving in San Francisco, do a Charlie’s Angel photo shoot for a charity calendar with beautiful girlfriends there; and spend Christmas in Florida with my family, frisbee-golfing, parasailing, and lying in the sun by the pool at my parents’ condo in Fort Myers.
I would find a new depth of peace and joy in my heart, an unshakeable sense of bliss at the core of my being that comes simply from being alive.
I would decide once and for all to love and accept myself and my life and to simply enjoy all the moments of this life.
I would recommit to my goals and dreams. I would cultivate a new sense of expansiveness and commit to making my business successful at higher levels than ever before. I would commit to helping as many people as possible and living my best life.
I think I can unequivocally say that this year was the happiest year of my life, so far. And I am sure that next will be my happiest year, yet!
Making the Most of Everything
The London trip was a spontaneous and impulsive decision, a fun way to kick off the new, happiest year yet. Which it will be!
Of course, London didn’t get off to a smooth start for me. Before heading overseas, I had rented an apartment in Chelsea through a Website link I found online at www.craigslist.com
The apartment looked charming and was located in one of London’s premier neighborhoods, right near King’s Road. It was still a bargain to rent it out however at only 30 “pounds” (about $45) a night.
While spending Christmas with my family in Florida, I put down a deposit on the apartment including a 200-pound security deposit. I made the payment in cash via Western Union and was told that as long as I brought my confirmation code with me to London I’d be given the keys to my apartment when I arrived at the apartment complex, called Grosvenor Waterside.
I arrived at Heathrow Airport at 6:35 a.m. on the morning of Friday, December 30th, and took a taxicab straight to Grosvenor Waterside.
Unfortunately, as the very kind security guards at the complex alerted me, there was no such apartment or owner in this complex. It didn’t exist. They had no record of the transaction, and the photos that I’d sent via the Website link didn’t match the apartments that were actually in this complex.
In other words, I’d been scammed.
As Happy As I Wanna Be
Luckily, I reached out to a London swing dancer, Judy Cook, who had originally agreed to host me, and she still had space in her home. She became my “London angel,” rescuing me when we found out after calling around to local hotels that everything seemed to be booked for New Year’s Eve.
I could have let it put a damper on my trip, but why would I do that? I was still in London for the holidays; I had a play to stay in; and I’d learned a lesson, albeit a tough one (be more careful about apartments you book online, sight unseen, Lisa!).
I was reminded perhaps that not everyone on the planet has good intentions in every situation, and yet I still choose to keep my faith in humanity. Essentially I feel that the world is a mirror for us, and since I do my best to treat everyone I meet with kindness and love, I find that in general people also treat me with great loving-kindness.
There may be exceptions now and then, but I’m not going to let them spoil my experience of walking through this world. I choose to have a happy life experience, and that means that I choose that despite any “negative” events, knowing “this too shall pass.”
Happiness As The Path
For me, happiness IS the path and the way of walking. I choose to walk in happiness and peace, and to make those my “ways of being.”
Basically, that means that what others do, or don’t do, can’t spoil my happiness, since I have decided that my happiness is dependent upon me. I get to create my life to make it what I want it to be. And I have the power within me to let go of thoughts or scenarios or situations that aren’t making me happy.
If I’m not happy with a situation in my life, I can change it or accept it, and keep my happiness while I’m at it! In this case, I certainly could have let what happened to spoil my mood, since I was not able to get my Â money back. In the grand scheme of life, however, it didn’t really seem like a big deal to me. Lesson learned, check; move on!
Time to enjoy London!
How To Make This Your Happiest Year Yet, No Matter What
It was a good reminder for me that I can *choose* to make this year my happiest year yet, no matter what the world throws at me. The fact of the matter is that I’m safe, secure in a friend’s home, still enjoying my holiday in London, and really no worse for the wear.
While it can be tempting to feel discouraged when something happens to us that we don’t like, and in the course of a lifetime that’s going to happen sometimes! – remind yourself as you launch this year that you can still choose happiness, in spite of the circumstances of your life, even as you do what you can to alter those circumstances.
The fact is that as they say, “happiness is an inside job!” So true! The level of your happiness is ultimately up to you.
Lisa P. Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, TED motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning in their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on her website or watch her TEDx speech on YouTube.
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