Levels of Happiness: How the loss of Avicii made me rethink the meaning of Joy.

Step 1: Stop and think about your personal definition of what it means to be “truly wealthy.” Take a few seconds to quietly think about it.

Step 2: After thinking, take a sheet of paper and write down your definition of wealthy on one side.

Have you written it down?

Step 3: Now take a moment to think about your personal definition of what it means to be “truly happy.” Take a few seconds to quietly think about it.

Step 4: After thinking, write your definition of happy on the other half of the paper.

Decision time:

Now, place the two definitions on a flat surface and make a choice. If you could magically be given a lifetime of happiness or wealth, which would you choose?

This is NOT saying that you can only choose one of the other or that if you have one, you can’t have the other… this is just saying which do you believe to be more important in your life today?

The common definition of “Wealth” is: an abundance of valuable possessions or money.

The common definition of “Happiness” is “the quality or state of being happy, or… good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.”

The word happiness seems to be one of the most difficult things to define. Many of the definitions of happiness use words like “joy” and/or “contentment,” which are terms that essentially mean the exact same thing.  As a millennial, so much of my life was centered on people telling me that “if” I do the following, “then” I’d be successful and that success would lead to wealth and then happiness.

But here’s the thing, what made me MOST happy… was when I stopped correlating the word happiness with “if.” Once I really thought about it, I recognized how many times I and other friends were told that their success was centered on the word: “If”

If you get this degree… then

If you get this job… then

If you date this type of person… then

The reason why so many people are not happy is because once we achieve these “If’s,” someone just gives us another “if.” The “If’s” just keep on coming. We should not train an entire generation to wait for the “If’s.”

In 2011, I had the opportunity to travel to Ibiza with all of my closest friends and the woman who would become my future wife. I didn’t think twice about the expense because this truly seemed like my first “bucket list” experience.

When Lakisha and I decided to travel together, we knew that a major highlight would be seeing David Guetta perform at his legendary party in Ibiza. We shared a love of Electronic Dance Music and we had never seen any of the top DJ’s perform. We bought tickets to the party and we couldn’t wait.

But we heard a rumor that David Guetta would not be there that night and that rumor was confirmed. Guetta called a stand-in, the DJ who had THE EDM song of the summer (When I say that LEVELS was playing everywhere, I mean it was EVERYWHERE) the one, the only, Avicii.

At first we were disappointed that we weren’t seeing Guetta, but as soon as the music started playing, we were reminded how much we also loved Avicii. It was an incredible night and his set was on fire! A few years after this night, Avicii announced that he would retire from touring due to health issues and we were reminded how special it was to see him live. This year, it truly struck a chord when it was revealed that he took his own life at the age of 28.

It makes me sad to believe that so many of us are bombarded with this modern myth of happiness.  It’s soooooo easy to look at someone else and believe that they have everything you could ever want. However, it’s much more difficult to tell when someone is truly happy.

You could say that Avicii lived the dream by performing at sold out concerts and generating over 85 million dollars in the course of his lifetime. However, when you analyze my three favorite Avicii songs, you’ll see they all have lyrics about moments of fleeting happiness.

1) Levels -(2011) Avicii samples Nina Simone’s “Something’s got a hold on me”

“Sometimes I get a good feeling”

2) Wake me up (2013)

“Life will pass me by if I don’t open up my eyes”

“I tried carrying the weight of the world, but I only have two hands”

“I didn’t know I was lost”

3) Avicii – The Nights

“Son don’t let it slip away”

“One day you’ll leave this world behind, so live a life you will remember”

I realize this is a travel blog, but Avicii’s death truly made me realize that the happiness that I was chasing when I was younger was all centered in the people that I was with and the time that we spent together.  I sang the hook for Levels with my friends and with people from all over the world who were witnessing a young DJ who would reach mega stardom only to see it all taken away. Thinking back to that moment makes me realize that travel is not just about the destination, it’s about the new friends you meet along the way or the friends and family who will be there when you arrive.

As I look back at my impression of Avicii’s life, he achieved lot of the “if’s,” yet he still faced challenges. His story reminds me that I should not let the “if’s” determine my happiness and helps me recognize how important it is to appreciate every moment of every day. Everyone should take time to let your friends and family know that you are here if they need someone to call on. Cherish the time you have with friends and family because life is precious. Although I recognize that it’s important to have a job or a relationship or money, those “if’s” don’t define you.

Live in the here and now, don’t wait for your “If,” take advantage of what life brings you today.

– T

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