4 (More) Secrets… Make That 5!

I recently came across a new blog called Life+1 (@mylifeplus1) and this post called, “4 (More) Secrets to Happiness From Around The World”.

Jumping the Fire for Novruz... Signifies the Ultimate Renewal

Jumping the Fire for Novruz… Signifies the Ultimate Renewal

No surprise… Azerbaijan wasn’t on that list! But maybe it should be, so I am sharing @mylifeplus1’s blog with you, and adding this 5th secret from my own post, “Happy Renewal” .

4 (More) Secrets… Make That 5!

May your life have the aroma of spring. We wish you good, bright mornings! (typical Novruz Greeting) “Some of my favorite times in Baku, Azerbaijan were centered on the spring “New Year” celebrations of Novruz, the time of renewal. There was an air of anticipation, and as the saying goes, “Spring defines the luck of a year”. Novruz is a triumph of cleanliness and health. In order to greet these favorite days properly, good works are done throughout the country, improvements are made to villages, city streets and courtyards, roads are cleaned and houses are repaired. Accommodation is carefully cleaned and tidied. Everything is put in order, house walls are whitewashed. Everywhere is radiant with cleanliness. People call it “house cleaning”. Girls and brides clean their carpets and rugs, take them out into the open air, hang them on lines and fences, beat the dust out of them, leave them to air in the sun, with the wish that friends may rejoice in their prosperity and foes may be afflicted.”  This celebration last 4 weeks, and the anticipation builds over the month with a new focus each Tuesday. It is truly a time of joy and happiness.

  • First, is Water Tuesday, where water renews nature (think water on the wheat that sprouts into semeni). .
  • Fire Tuesday follows second, and honors fire as a method of rebirth. Fire is the element that signifies we are purified of our evil deeds of the year past, and we are reborn fresh for the coming year. .
  • Earth Tuesday is week three, marking the revival of the earth. The semeni should be sprouting by this time, along with hyacinth and tulip bulbs , showing the cycle of regeneration. .
  • Lastly, Wind Tuesday is when the wind opens the buds and marks the arrival of Spring.

Fire worship forms an integral part of the celebrations with fires being lit on the four Tuesdays in the run up to Novruz. On the last Tuesday, everyone jumps over the fire representing purification. It is a very happy time, hardly what you would expect from a country at war,  displaced from its own land, and (at that time) in the midst of arising from the ashes of the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Maybe that’s what makes this such a secret!

Here are 4 (more) …  

(These are from Life+1)   From the crowded streets of Brazil, to the most isolated islands in the world; people around the world strive to be happy in some surprising and unique ways.


Photo via
Photo via http://www.meridiano180.com

Would you ever consider bungee jumping from a tower with nothing but natural tree vines to break your fall? Tree vines and the ground. It may sound incredibly bizarre to many of us, but to the natives of Pentecost Island in remote Vanuatu, it is the ultimate rite of passage and a way in which they overcome their fears. Something we could all apply to our own lives, with some modification of course. Whatever your fear and method for overcoming it, one thing is for sure, facing our fears is the only way to overcome them. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…right?


Royal Mansour Spa

Royal Mansour Spa

Royal Mansour Hammam : Marrakech

Royal Mansour Hammam : Marrakech

The hammam, a tradition rooted in Turkey, but arguably perfected by Moroccans, is a cleansing and pampering of the most luxurious kind. From sweating out toxins to being scrubbed clean head to toe, and finished with steam and a massage. You’ll no doubt walk away feeling renewed and healthy. Looking after yourself is just as important as giving back to others. Whether it’s an occasional moment to relax on your own in a comfy chair or a full-on hammam pampering, we should all make personal relaxation and rejuvenation a part of our routine. I plan to experience the hammam first hand on my upcoming adventure to Morocco. What better place to experience it than at the Royal Mansour, a hotel owned and commissioned by the King of Morocco himself?! I can’t wait to tell you guys all about it! (check back with http://www.lifeplus1.mefor updates)


Photo viaPhoto via
Not quite as obscure as some of the other happiness practices, in fact, there’s nothing subtle about Brazil’s Carnaval. Nearly a solid week of closed businesses and wild parties on a massive scale. Brazil knows how to remind people that life is meant to be enjoyed, not wasted away behind a desk. While finding a healthy work/life balance can be challenging, if we don’t make an effort, we’ll certainly become burnt out. Finding time to celebrate and let loose is a necessary element in a happier life.


-golden-temple-diwali (via Videc Odyssey

Golden-temple Diwali celebration (via Vedic Odyssey)

Photo via © 2012 Vedic Odyssey. All rights reserved.
Diwali is a 5 day celebration by the Hindu people to welcome good fortune into their lives and start afresh. The towns are made squeaky clean and at night the sky is filled with fireworks. Streets, rooftops and windows are lined with candles. Diwali signifies the celebration of the Hindu gods who oversee good things in life. It is a practice I am particularly fond of. I am constantly working toward keeping my mind focused on gratitude and positivity. It’s a daily challenge. Finding happiness in life is a huge part of what I like to share on this blog. I’m not Hindu, and odds are, you probably are not either. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to consciously focus on the good in life rather than consuming our minds with the negatives.

Travel & Happiness

The world is a huge place. Part of the reason I love to travel is learning about all the fascinating cultures and different ways people live. Secrets to happiness can be found in every corner of the world and in so many different forms. Do you know someone who could use more happiness in their life? Share this post with them. Maybe they’ll find inspiration like so many others have. x”

Thank you, Life+1,  for this great post to start our week.  Check out more inspiring stories at Life Lessons…What The World Taught Me and also at Life+1.

Have a great week!

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4 thoughts on “4 (More) Secrets… Make That 5!

    • It truly is! I’m really surprised to hear that the fire jumping was practiced in Ukraine as well. Was this for calendar New Year or another holiday? In Azerbijan it is related to the Muslim calendar and had been part of the old Zoroastrian calendar as well (thus the fire aspect).

      So fascinating to see how rituals migrate and update from place to place!

      Thanks for the tip! What’s your favorite tradition from your time in the Ukraine? (Geez, I guess I am old school- it will always be “the” Ukraine to me… 😉 )

      Where are you off to after Kaohsiung? I am enjoying your posts on the real side of being on a cruise- the walks, the weather! 😉 (Your side street photo off the beaten pathcould be Baku if the Chinese signs were in Azeri or Russian! All the same the world over.)


    • In Georgia, Azerbaijan’s neighbor, jumping over fire is practiced in the runup to Orthodox Christian Easter. I imagine this custom as Zoroastrian, preceding Islam and Christianity, but I don’t know for sure.


      • Hey “Janet in the Woodlands”! How are you? it’s so great to hear from you!

        Thanks for adding the Georgia perspective. This appears to be more common than I had originally thought! Though I don’t seem to find it much outside the former Soviet territories. Have you seen this in any of your other (wild and wonderful) travels?

        In case you haven’t checked the other commenter, Susan, from Marsha’s Bungalow, was a PC volunteer in the Ukraine with her husband Stanley. You four would have some very interesting notes, if you ever cross paths.

        I hope you and Don have been well this year! Where have your travels taken you lately? Please let me know when you are planning a visit to points east! I’d love to see you all again!


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