“The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – that’s all that matters.” – Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn was a fashion icon, a beacon of style, and all around classy woman. She charmed us onscreen by becoming Holly Golightly, Sabrina Fair, and Princess Ann (just to name a few!). But the real Audrey Hepburn was just as charming offscreen – and can serve as an example as we look to find happiness in our own lives.
A happy life has been pursued in every culture, in every country, in every generation. But the rules on how to get one are still elusive and unclear. By now we know money cannot by happiness (although I wouldn’t mind a few extra bucks now and then … that sure would make me happy :)). But what if happiness is not about what happens to us, what we own, or where we live, but how we look at it. Maybe looking at things through rose-coloured glasses isn’t such a bad thing!
So what would Audrey say about attaining a happy life?
Attitude is everything
Just like you and I, Audrey Hepburn was once a young, unknown individual who dreamed of becoming a ballet dancer. As she grew up, she had her fair share of hardships, failures, and struggles. However no matter what life threw her way, Audrey never failed to forget that life itself is a beautiful opportunity.
Try to take a positive attitude towards events in your life, and see beauty even in the small things – a great song on the radio, a smile from a stranger, a coffee with your best friend (did we not learn anything from the movie About Time with Rachel Mcadams… a must watch!). Do not let these moments pass you by. As Audrey would say:
“Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come….The past, I think has helped me appreciate the present – and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.”
Keep it all in perspective
Audrey Hepburn was living in Arnhem Holland during the Second World War. Days after her 11th birthday, the Germans stormed into town, remaining there until liberation came on her 16th birthday. She lived through scarcity and treachery, losing friends, uncles, and almost both brothers during this time.
Even those who have experienced extreme hardships in their lives, can build on these negatives, and if given support/opportunity, change their situation. Even those who haven’t had to deal with such trauma can put things in perspective, try to see the bigger picture of things rather than always being stuck in the details.
“Being without food, fearful for one’s life, the bombings – all made me appreciative of safety and of liberty. In that sense, the bad experiences have become positives in my life.”
By being constantly bombarded with images of what we don’t have (that Bugatti, a macbook, a puppy) we forget to rejoice for what we do have. What is truly important in life? Safety, food and family. These are what we should appreciate having every day.
By expecting less, you will learn to appreciate the little things others do for you – e.g. a neighbour helping to shovel your driveway through this Canadian Winter, see what you have as valuable, and perhaps even do more for others with the things you do have, such as volunteering your time.
“I’ve had so much more than I ever dreamed possible out of life – (no) great disappointments or hopes that didn’t work out. I’ve accomplished far more than I ever hoped to, and most of the time it happened without me seeking it.”
Things do and will continue to happen for you dear readers – you’re fabulous.
Be perfectly human
We are always looking at others, and comparing ourselves to them. We wonder how that women in our office always looks so perfect (and would look so even if she were in a wind tunnel – you know who I mean), or how that friend down the street always manages to have it all a family, great career, and loving relationship. You have to remember though, they are just human. It’s ok to make mistakes, it’s ok to be you (and hey, someone else is likely looking at you and thinking you have it all together!). No need to be perfect. Just bring your best to everyday of your life and laugh at your not so perfect moments.
“People seem to have this fixed image of me. In a way, I think it is very sweet, but also a little sad. After all, I am a human being. When I get angry, I sometimes swear.”
Live without regrets
For years Audrey Hepburn tried to balance her need for family with the world’s need to watch her onscreen, until one day she finally left movie-making altogether. Her long separation from her son was just too much for her. She felt she had to make a change. No one knows your wants and desires better than yourself. We may only live once, so it’s important to take the opportunities that do come to you – if they are ones you want to pursue for a happy life. Reflect on what is truly important to you.
“It would be awful to die and look back miserably – seeing only the bad things, the opportunities missed or what could have been.”
So there you have it dear readers. A view on how to attain a happy life, according to Audrey Hepburn of course. What are the takeaways for a modern lady? Be true to yourself, appreciate what you have, try to keep an open mind, be open to different perspectives, and take opportunity when it knocks – but only if it will help you get to where you truly want to be in life.
All the best