A long time ago…well about 15 years…a friend of mine whom I met while backpacking in Canada gave me a great gift…it was a book called “The Four Agreements”. This book has a great, yet simple, guide to help you be happy (however you define that of course)…because it clearly lays out that happiness can be a choice, and so can suffering.
It is by Don Miguel Ruiz and is a Toltec Wisdom book.
The four agreements (which you make with yourself and require work to make them habitual) are shown in the picture below. I have encountered a number of people during my life so far who have a tendency towards negativity – maybe through putting too much pressure on themselves at work or school, saying bad things about others, assuming something instead of finding out (it makes an ASS out of U and ME remember) or just feeling that things are personal when they really aren’t. Once you start on these paths of focussing on the bad side it can be tough to get off them.
While we all have our down-times, it can be a real challenge if someone is dragging you into a negative reality on an ongoing basis, especially if it goes against these “rules” because they often won’t realise they are doing it and would rather try to bring you into their reality than try and see the good in their life or situation. Seeing the good side can sometimes be tough…
There is a lot to be said about speaking with integrity (including not spreading gossip), not taking things personally, not making assumptions (i.e. communicate!) and always doing your best. While I certainly can’t profess to always doing all of these, it certainly helps to try. And if you have a tendency towards being unhappy, maybe it is worth looking at how you respond to and interact with the world around you because the chances are that just maybe, with a little work and time, you could choose to react differently and reap the rewards. Choose happiness.
If you’ve never been to New Zealand, I would like you wish you luck pronouncing the name of this Forest which sits around 20 minutes south of Tauranga on the North Island. If you will permit me, I will try to give you what I see as a phonetic summary – Oh-Tar-Nay-Why-Noo-Koo.
It is a Department of Conservation site which is home to a kiwi conservation programme and there are native birds enjoying the predator-controlled forest too. I wanted to tell you about this because of the magnificent views you are treated to if you are willing to do the Summit Track at around 90 minutes return (moderate difficulty – including a beetle hitchhiker). You are treated to a magnificent (and enormous) view stretching as far as White Island (the marine volcano which is 50km offshore to the North) and Whakatane to the East. It is stunning. My photos don’t quite do it justice but it proves that to be treated to the wonders of nature, you often have to put in a bit of an effort yourself first.
There is also a lovely B&B just down the road in Oropi called Rolling Hills Country Stay, just in case you are tempted.
Just outside Rotorua on NZ’s North Island, to the top of Lake Rotorua lies perhaps the clearest water I have ever seen – even clearer than what comes out of the tap in the house!
Here is Hamurana Springs which contains the largest natural spring on the North Island with around 4 million litres of water coming up per hour. It takes 70 years for the water to get to this point which must yet again prove that it is worth taking your time over a job well done!
It is truly beautiful to visit and you can clearly see that the ducks love it too. Trout are happily (and clearly) swimming around and someone even told me they had seen a rat swimming across the river earlier that day.
Part of the 45 minute walk to the spring and back is the Dancing Sands (you can watch a lovely video of this on YouTube here – click this link), a peaceful location where you watch the water bubbling up through sand. There are also huge redwood trees to be dwarfed by and native birds flying around. So idyllic.
If you get chance, this is a must-see, and totally free too!
A few months back I was able to head over to the east of the North Island and visit Gisborne and its surrounds for the first time. Great to get out and explore a bit again! This area has a very low population density and it is a delight to get away from everyone else and relax. Gisborne was a really pleasant surprise, I expected a remote, run down backwater to be honest but it is a compact city with a beach in the city centre and accessible rivers and is in a stunning area of beauty.
In 1769, this was the place where Captain Cook first set foot on Aotearoa (or New Zealand as it became). Unfortunately, as they came into conflict with local Maori, they left the area without any supplies and labelled the landing site as Poverty Bay as it did not give them anything they wanted. Sad but true…according to my Rough Guide anyway!
It would of course be wrong to say that Cook discovered NZ because that remarkable feat was achieved by Polynesian navigators a long time before, but we Brits still liked to claim everything as our own in that era (these days we enjoy past glories in the main!).
Anyway, here are some photos of the East Cape area, from Wairoa and the Mahia Peninsula to the South, Gisborne in the middle (which has three rivers converging in its centre, including NZ’s shortest), and Tolaga Bay and Tokomaru Bay to the North. Tolaga Bay possesses the longest concrete jetty in the Southern Hemisphere at 660m long – an interesting relic of a bygone era now perhaps but still lovely to walk along.