If you’ve been following all my previous posts, you would know that I moved to Toronto mid-2018 and it has been such an amazing journey! In the past four blogs, I’ve been answering some of the most popular questions people asked me after I moved. This is the fifth and final blog in the ‘Immigrating to Canada’ series where I’ll share my thoughts on yet another interesting question.
About six months after I moved, I travelled to India for a quick visit. In the post, ‘Going Home’, I blogged about my thoughts and feelings while travelling to India and those sentiments resonated with many readers.
Further to that blog, here, I want to discuss one very unexpected and rather, surprising question that people asked me. They said, “You look so much happier since you moved. What’s the secret to your happiness?” This was more often than not, one of the first questions people asked when they saw me!
Happiness is so subjective, fleeting and evolving that it’s difficult to pin-point the exact cause(s). However, generally speaking, one cannot deny a major variable that ‘shifted’ in my life: I moved to Canada!
So, is Canada the reason for my happiness? Let’s find out!
When I was a kid, I watched this favourite Japanese anime series called ‘Heidi, girl of the Alps.’ It follows the story of a little girl Heidi who lives with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps. I loved that show and secretly wished that someday I would have a chance to live in the mountains too, just like Heidi! I think the intention to emigrate out of India was subconsciously sown in my mind that early on.
Almost two decades later, I visited Vancouver and as the airplane was about to touch down at the airport, I saw a magnificent view of snow-capped mountains out the window and almost cried; it was so beautiful and magical! It reminded me of my childhood, Heidi, and how I wanted to go live in the mountains when I was young. That was the beginning of my Canadian dream; I blogged about it (with pictures) in one of my earlier blogs — How It All Began. As I visited places in Vancouver, Penticton, and Whistler, I thought about lyrics from the song ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ from The Wizard of Oz:
“Someday, I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me”
Here’s a picture of me in the mountains, taken sometime in mid-2014:
Upon reflection, with my entire move to Canada, I think, what I was really doing is chasing happiness. And as I turned my childhood dream into reality, my ‘마음’ (read as ‘maum’ in Korean; there’s no equivalent word for it in English but closest words in meaning would be ‘mind, body, heart, and soul’) was at peace, resulting in me being happy.
If I had to categorize my reasons of happiness, they would be as follows:
Pace of life
I was always used to being on the ‘fast-track’ while I lived and worked in Mumbai — that’s also partly because life in Mumbai is fast — causing unnecessary stress. Life in Toronto is perceived as fast too but it’s not comparable to Mumbai. I guess, I (sort-of) switched lanes to the slow track after I moved and it made a world of a difference! I found myself being more at peace. Here’s specifically what changed:
- I switched careers and took up writing as a full-time job. Blogging/writing to me was always a hobby so this option turned out to be very therapeutic in a way.
- I found accommodation that was within 5-10 minutes of my workplace so I basically walk to work everyday. After having travelled in Mumbai trains for over a decade of my life, this was pure bliss!
The concept called ‘work-life balance’
One of my motivations for moving to Canada was to find the seemingly elusive ‘work-life balance.’ So far, the workplace culture that I’ve experienced in Canada has been the polar opposite of what I was used to in India. While in India, I worked with international markets for a majority of my career and was accustomed to being available before/after business hours to match the client’s timezone. That, coupled with daily travel time to and from the workplace, left me feeling exhausted to pursue other activities during the week. Since I switched careers after moving to Canada, I never had to sync up with different time zones which makes my work schedule very (for lack of a better word) ‘normal’ — this, combined with the proximity of my home to the workplace, saves me a lot of time even on weekdays and I can pursue other hobbies, meet friends, go out for dinner or watch a movie. Thanks to this schedule, I was able to launch my personal blog and even invest time in learning a new language — all of which makes me very very happy!
Quality of life
Clean air, better weather, amazing infrastructure, accessibility, the education system, sophisticated transportation options, technology integrated in everyday life, excellent and stable internet connectivity, free healthcare, and social activities to engage in — to me, these are just some of the factors that help me live stress-free and enjoy life in Canada, thereby contributing to my happiness!
I did become happier and the reason wasn’t so much in the fact of moving to Canada but in achieving my dreams, goals, and ambitions — something that was always buried deep in my heart and only blossomed in Canadian land! 🙂
Canada is often referred to as one of the happiest countries and having lived here for over a year now, I can see why. Moving to Canada is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life; this country has given me everything I’ve dreamed about and more!
I look forward to many more happy memories!