Happiness does not come automatically. It is not a gift that good fortune bestows upon us and a reversal of fortune takes back. It depends on us alone.One does not become happy overnight, but with patient labor, day after day. Happiness is constructed, and that requires effort and time. In order to become happy, we have to learn how to change ourselves.
— Luca and Francesco Cavalli-Sforza
I once read a story of a Cherokee elder who was teaching his children about life. He said to them, “A terrible fight is going on inside me. It is a fight between two wolves. One is the wolf of joy, love, hope, kindness and compassion. The other is the wolf of fear, anger, cynicism, indifference and greed. The same fight is going on inside of you and every other person too.” The children thought about it for a moment, and then one child asked, “Which wolf will win?” The elder replied, “Whichever one you feed.”
What I find so hopeful about this story is that it suggests that we each have both the opportunity and ability to strengthen love, happiness, kindness and compassion with those—particularly our loved ones—around us, everyday. The strength of our relationships depends, in large part, on which wolf we choose to feed each day. Grounded in daily actions we can choose to nourish and encourage the wolf of love.
On this day of love, Valentine’s Day (jokingly known as Singles Awareness Day), our thoughts naturally turn towards romantic love, one of the greatest pleasures of life. Romantic love has given us beautiful sonatas, sonnets, plays and classics like Sense and Sensibility, Doctor Zhivago, and Cyrano de Bergerac. Found in almost all human cultures, romantic love seems to be not only deeply in our biological nature, but also in our biochemical nature as well.
Love often feels good. Love can be exhilarating, insanely delicious, and flat out crazy. It can make you feel like you have lightening going through your veins and/or as if every atom in your body is dancing with delight. Yes, romantic love is often delightful and thrilling.
Yet, there are also many other types of equally thrilling forms of love. When we speak of the love and relationship between a human parent and child, it is unique in all the animal kingdom; it has the power to shape how each of us pursues and expresses love as an adult. Showering a child with love, like pouring water on a plant, is perhaps the single most powerful thing a parent can do for their child’s future happiness and well-being.
Scientific studies now show that the more love, kindness and compassion we share with others, the happier we will become. We actually need to give love to be healthy and whole. Love is said to be like water, it needs to flow else it becomes stagnant.
We all want to receive love. And, the world—those we live and work with, family and friends, people near and far—needs love. Never underestimate the happiness and joy you can bring from just one loving word, thought or deed. Keep feeding your inner wolf of love.
We all also know that no talk of love and Valentine’s Day is complete without also mentioning sweet treats and decadent desserts. Recently I visited a Cuban-American friend who made delicious guava pastries (pastelitos de guayaba) made of guava paste and cheese. When I later decided to make the dessert at home, I told a friend and fellow blogger (Silly Apron) about this delicious and flaky pastry treat. She mentioned a very similar guava pastry called Romeo and Juliet in some countries in Latin America. I had never heard of such a dessert, so I did some investigating.
Guava paste, also known as Goiabada, is a popular dessert throughout Portuguese-speaking countries of the world. During the colonial days in Brazil, guavas were used as a substitute for quinces that were used to make marmalade. In Brazil, when goiabada is eaten with Minas cheese, the combination is referred to as Romeo and Juliet.
To make my version of Romeo and Juliet, I used guava paste and a little goat cheese. I decided to braid my dough, like a danish pastry, just for aesthetics.
In an upcoming post I’ll provide the recipe and detailed instructions on how I make these pastries. Until then, Happy Valentine’s Day! Update: Here is a link to the recipe for Romeo and Juliets (Pastelitos de Guayaba).
Much love and happiness to you,
Reminder: Book Club coming up in March! We’ll be discussing “Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way”.