In Categories, How to Live the Good Life, Inspiration

One of the great things about the Sea Princess World Cruise is the number of enrichment lectures on offer. I’ve trotted off to lots of them already, and love listening to Aija Bruvere who hails from Riga in Latvia, talking about issues that are close to our hearts.

I mean who wouldn’t want to go to talks about – how to create happy and meaningful lives, and habits for healthy minds? We all want that right?


Being on a cruise is a pretty close to living a happy and meaningful life 😉 and I’m very lucky – I hope you’re enjoying the cruise stories so far? Let me know what else you’d like to hear about in the comments section, won’t you?

Enrichment Lectures

Anyway, enrichment lectures are all inclusive in your fare.

So after a round of energetic Zumba followed by a slap up breakfast in the buffet I hotfooted to the gorgeous Princess Theatre to listen to Aija who  kindly said that I can share parts of her lectures with you, and if you pop down to the bottom of this post you can find out how to connect with Aija on her happiness project in beautiful Bali.

Without further ado, a big warm Lifestyle Fifty welcome to lovely Aija Bruvere (Msc, Grad.Dip. Coaching Psychology)

happy and meaningful life
“Nobody can make us happy but ourselves,” said Aija, and isn’t that true?

Because if you’re looking for someone else to make you happy or you think you’ll be happy when … you have a new job, new house, new life, new partner … you are probably not ever going to be happy.

happy and meaningful life

Aija says that the idea that we should be able to manifest our own individual happiness is a relatively recent concept in human history, which actually started in the late 17th Centruy and continued to develop during the 18th Century.

Before then suffering was considered the norm and happiness was though to be a matter of luck.

Did you know? HAP is both the Old Norse and Old English root of happiness and it means luck or chance?

“Happy people are predisposed to enjoy happy moments, they don’t necessarily have more happiness than other people,” said Aija.

It was only around the year 2000 that scientists started a positive psychology movement saying  how about we focus on the positive and helping people who are already happy and study happiness and find out what makes people happy. Up until then people were focussed on treating disease and depression.

Personal Happiness Project

So how about starting up a personal happiness project for ourselves?

Happiness is not a constant thing, but it rather consists of the everyday little moments we are creating all the time and we need to focus on what makes us happy.

“Be Kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Dalai Lama

Happiness traps

But there are some definite happiness traps, such as thinking ….. when I …. then I will be happy – forever in the future.

On the other hand not having exceedingly high expectations is a key to actually obtaining some measure of happiness (Iris Mauss, 2015)

Though blaming ourselves for NOT feeling happy enough can create a downswards spiral.

“You are the maker of your own happiness.”

One of the leading happiness scientists, Seligman has developed the PERMA Pathways theory which states these 5 pathways make people people feel happy. The thing is though that we an arrive at similar feelings in different ways. In fact you can follow one or several of these pathways to happiness – you don’t need to follow all of them.

P – Positive Emotions

E  – Engagement

R – Relationships

M – Meaning

A – Achievement

Positive emotions

Positive emotions broaden our thought and action repertoire, and we see more, we create space for creativity and growth. This can come from the pleasures of life, or enjoying an activity, treasuring the positive emotions and noticing them.

Positive emotions are also a powerful anti stressor. So if you are feeling stressed watch some YouTube videos of kittens or something that makes you laugh!


Where skill level and challenge meet, we get in the flow, like musicians or artists do. As a blogger I understand this. I definitely get in the flow when I’m writing.

happy and meaningful life


Engagement is being immersed in an activity you enjoy, hobbies, volunteering, work, sport, art and any activities that create satisfaction.


Research suggests that having good quality realtionships is a source of joy and happiness and more important even than higher education.

So it’s important to surround yourself with friends who are happier than you. People who are surrounded by happy people are more likely to become happy in the future because our social networks influence our levels of happiness.


“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.'”  Viktor E. Frankl, in Man’s Search for Meaning.

So having a future orientation is important, having a high level of meaning and purpose is a strong source of happiness for some people.

happy and meaningful life


It’s important to feel you’re achieving things. Either in a sporting way or professional way perhaps, and finding  new purpose and meaning when you stop work is a happiness trigger.

But …..

All these paths to happiness can be found on a world cruise too!

  • Positive Emotions – can come from being on holiday, eating new foods, not having to do housework.
  • Engagement – happens when we are with others at dinner or playing trivia games or attending lectures or Zumba perhaps?
  • Relationships – can get better, either with your spouse or others.
  • Meaning – on a cruise you are seeing the world, and being enriched by other cultures provides meaning.
  • Achievement – you might be achieving in the trivia quizzes or at table tennis tournaments, or doing more exercise than you might at home.

Other ways to achieve more happiness and meaning

  • Become a happiness explorer … Find what works for you, engage with the experiences that create more happiness. Create your own happiness project, measure, follow up and get better.
  • Consciously practicing gratitude has a happiness gain that lasts. So be grateful. What we focus on grows so if we turn attention to the good it improves how we feel and it improves our relationships.
  • Perhaps start a gratitude journal and count the small blessings every day. I’m grateful for the lovely smell of coffee I had today, or the tour I took. Writing a letter and telling someone all of the good things they’ve brought into our lives (even if you don’t send it) will increase the level of happiness you feel in life.
  • Then there are acts of kindness, give compliments or buy someone a coffee or give a bouquet of flowers, if you do this regularly the giver gets even more than the receiver.
  • Cycling, skiing and brisk walking can drive away depression, anger and fear and create joy. Not exercising is like taking A Depressant.

happy and meaningful life


Being present in the moment is not easy. Most people are not present at any given moment, there minds are elsewhere or they are on their mobile phone. We have to train our attention to be present in the moment. Mindfullness is attention with intention and it’s non-judgemental. It reduces worry, reduces stress and improves wellbeing.

Connect with Aija

If you’d like to connect with Aija or attend her Happiness Project in Bali, here’s how …

happy and meaningful life

I’m a guest of Princess Cruises but opinions are my own.

Want a piece of the action? Have a look at the Princess Cruises world cruises for 2017 here.

Do you have any tips for living a happy and meaningful life you’d like to share with us in the comments section? We’d love to hear them if you do.

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Showing 6 comments
  • Aija Bruvere

    Thank you Johanna for sharing my Happiness message here! For those who would like to connect and learn more about our January 2017 Happiness project BrainSpa Bali, the easiet way is to look it up on facebook

    • Johanna

      Thanks Aija 🙂 Your lectures were so inspiring 🙂

  • Ingrid Rickersey

    Yes many people now defer happiness, thinking they will be happy when … they get a new job, buy a new car, find a partner or whatever, which is ridiculous. Meaningful engagement, mindfulness and meditation are good practices to stay grounded and reap the benefits of being happy.
    I am following your journey Jo, but don’t often get around to commenting. I liked the post about the cruise director … We have been on several cruises and the cruise director is always a dynamic personality (would have to be to do that job and totally a”people person”).

    • Johanna

      Hi Ingrid! Thanks so much for following our journey, and I so appreciate your comments, but I do understand about time. Yes we have to live in the moment, don’t we. Life is no dress rehearsal. I agree that the cruise director needs to be a dynamic personality – tough job really.

  • Life Images by Jill

    Thank you for passing on Aija’s thoughts through this wonderful post Jo. I had lunch with a lovely friend today and we were talking about finding happiness, committing to following our paths, and getting back to what our hearts say we should be doing. Finding happiness in fact! I’m enjoying your posts Jo. You certainly seem to be experiencing your cruise to the full.

    • Johanna

      Thanks so much Jill 🙂 Yes, I think as we get older we have more time to think about our own paths towards happiness.

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