Young Blood

Happiness 2011


What would make me happy?

A great job?

A hot boyfriend?

A fulfilling relationship?

A brand-new car?

Travel around the world?

Or just getting along better with myself?

What is happiness all about?

There’s no universally accepted definition of what happiness is. To some, it’s free, to others it may cost millions of pesos. Happiness comes in different forms.

My project for 2011 was to find its meaning, and I was convinced I knew exactly what I needed to achieve it.

I like making time frames, planning ahead and setting goals. I do this on a daily, monthly and yearly basis.  I would list down the things that I need to do every day and I put a check mark on each once I’m done with it, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment.

For 2011, I had a long list of expectations and goals, and little did I know that one would turn into an obsession…

I got obsessed with my American dream.

If only there are better career opportunities here in the Philippines for physical therapists, I would prefer to just stay and be with my family. To work there one has to go through a long, cumbersome process and to take the state board exam which is given only in the United States. A few nightmares we have to go through are: “credentialing” to make sure our education is equivalent to US standards; passing the English exam; and getting a US visa.

I had been working on this for quite some time, and I was hoping that I could make it happen in 2011. I said to myself that if I made it, I would be truly happy. I got close to achieving this goal, so close that I could almost taste it.

But life is truly unpredictable, there are certain things that are beyond our control. Some decisions are not ours to make.

Despite everything I did, I wasn’t able to leave. This made me feel so frustrated, I felt like the universe was treating me unfairly.

So the waiting game continues to this day.

It was March when I was told by my agency to wait for six more months. Six months felt like forever, I consoled myself by saying I’ll get by, I’ll just make the most during the “waiting period.” But six months turned to seven, then nine. To make a long story short, it has been approximately four years (and still counting) of waiting since I was told to wait for six more months.

The waiting game made me feel insane!  I got feelings of anxiety and impatience. I blamed the universe for playing tricks on me. I felt like a lollipop has been dangled in front of me only to be cruelly taken away just as I reached out for it. I quietly prayed to God and asked for answers.  “Lord I thought you want me to be happy, but why is this happening?  But whatever it is, Lord, I trust you, I know you have better plans for me.”

After the phone call I had from my agency telling me about another “delay,” I wanted to cry, but my three-year-old niece gave me a tight warm hug which made me feel better.

During the waiting period, I did a lot of stuff just to keep my mind from my frustrations. I would offer to babysit my adorable niece and nephew at my brother’s new home (they recently moved to the Philippines from Singapore). I spent more time with my family. I also went back to the review center and met amazing people and new friends. I was able to enjoy running again and joined my brother and some friends in a couple of fun runs. I got into yoga and enjoyed it beyond my expectations. And I was able to do a lot of reading, caught up with my favorite TV programs and movies.  I was able to play the guitar and sing again. I had more “me” time (thank you for the amazing online deals that I was able to get for myself and the pampering that I needed). I was able to sort out my cluttered thoughts, which enabled me to write this.

Year 2011 was all about waiting, and during this period, I realized that I found the happiness I have been looking for.  My family, my friends, my newfound interests, the good weather, an appreciation from patients thanking me for somehow making them feel better are just some of the countless things that made me happy in the year past. I learned about faith-based optimism, to let go of expectations and my obsession about achieving a specific goal at a particular time. I also learned that it’s good to plan and to be optimistic about your plans, but no matter how hard a person plans something, if it is not the right time, it won’t happen.

I do have plans, but it is God’s plan that will prevail in the end. This waiting period has given me the opportunity to understand what I really want, and to realize that some dreams would not necessarily give me the happiness that I am looking for.

Like what most people say, a flower will grow and bloom on its own good time. There’s no need to give it a deadline. If it’s not growing as fast as we want to, we just have to trust Mother Nature. For a beautiful flower to bloom, it has to have enough water and sunlight. We can always trust a flower to bloom, but we cannot guarantee the precise moment when it will spread its petals. So is trusting God, He knows what is best for us, and we can always complement our hard work and determination with prayers.

Happiness is like a switch; when to turn it on or off is within our control, we just have to know where the switch is. It is something that we don’t wait to happen, it is something that we do. It doesn’t wait on time, it is not something that waits for the future. We just have to open up and let it in.

I celebrated New Year’s Eve with my loved ones and I can say that my search for happiness has been a real success. I am looking forward to more reasons to be happy in 2012.  I will continue to pursue my dreams and finish what I have already started but this time, with a hopeful and happy heart because I believe that happiness leads to success, not the other way around. Success is the icing on the cake, the cherry on top of the ice cream, a bonus to my already awesome life.

Aina, 29, is a freelance physical therapist. She wrote this piece last New Year’s Eve, while looking back to year 2011.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • angie1875

    Best to keep back up plans for happiness since it is very slippery. That american dream sounds like a long shot. Happiness is living in the present, doing what you can for today. Good article and perspective. 

  • dwayne_dhey73

    Congratulations! Indeed you have the happiness you deserve.  Goodluck in this new career you’ve just started.  You’re a good writer. Keep up the good work. You inspire me and other people through your article.  Truly experience is the best teacher.

  • TheGUM

    I’m not sure if you’ve done it already, but check the website regarding immigration to Canada at www dot cic dot gic dot ca.

    As far as I can tell, they haven’t reached the cap for physiotherapists.

    You may be able to do this application process on your own, that is, without going through an agency.

    One of the drawbacks is the costly application fee.

    Your previous application for a US work visa may have already produced some documents for applying to Canada for a work visa.

    I’m not an immigration specialist.  I just learn a lot online.

    Study the possibilities for Canada, at least, by going online.

    You have a degree, your English is good, you have some work experience, you’re young etc., which would already earn you points in the Canadian immigration system.

    I’ve been to Canada as a tourist in the Ontario area.  I had a good experience and I kinda like Canadians.  Toronto is a nice city.

    Good luck to you.

    BTW, check immigration to Australia, New Zealand, Europe. These regions have national healthcare systems, and it would be quite OK to emigrate to these places, too.

  • tra6Gpeche

    You are young, smart and healthy! Those alone should make you happy.

  • Mang Teban

    Aina, as for me, there is no American dream. It is a mirage where illusion takes over after being exhausted from hoping on something. The hassles you get from applying for visa are not worth your talents. Trust your instincts instead on wild dreams.

    Re-frame your outlook in life. Perhaps you should check your other strengths. There is a job for you in the Philippines if you stop stereotyping yourself. I know graduates of non-Education degrees who made it to become teachers in international schools. Some got employed to work with an HR department in training and development. Others got into marketing health products and use their knowledge about nutrition, physiology, and basic anatomy. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you are applying for a job that seem to be outside your realm of educational qualification.

    Happiness is expecting to receive before it comes. God bless you!

  • alienoidzkie

    Nice mam Aina :) haha

  • cutie boy

    nice article aina c. idid not know that you are a good writer. baka may career ka rin sa writing… libre mo kami pag nakuha mo na bayad ng inquirer sayo… he.. he.. he…

  • Mrs_Parra

    Where can I send my article for youngblood? Hope someone can enlighten me! =)

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks

May 28, 2015

A yearly problem

May 27, 2015

Shades of Sarah