Happiness?

How can we find happiness?

Lately, I have been more thoughtful again. It has probably to do with the fact that my employment contract is expiring in two months and I have to figure out what I want to do with my life afterwards. The problem is that I just don’t know what kind of work would make me happy. And there it is – happy. What is happiness? And what does it mean to me?

What is happiness?

When I think about my life and the future, I just want to be happy. I want to be satisfied with what I’m doing and what I have done. But do I want a successful career? No. I don’t want to work 40 hours each week or even more. Instead, I want a job that I enjoy and one that makes me want to go to work instead of waking up on Monday and immediately start counting the days until the weekend. However, like many others, I am stuck with the thought that I need a typical 9 to 5 (or even 8 to 5) office job. We don’t really know the alternatives or are too afraid to pursue them. Why? Because it is implemented into our brains from an early childhood on.

What do you want to do for a living when you’re a grown-up?

Most of the people of our society have the same path laid ahead of them. We go to school and then we have to know what kind of job we want to do for the rest of our lives. After finishing school some go abroad for a certain amount of time. But unfortunately, I am afraid many only do so because it is required for the CV to have been abroad. Then you go to university, get a bachelor degree, sometimes even a master degree, and then you work very hard to accumulate as much money as possible to go and travel, relax and enjoy life when you’re old. Shouldn’t we enjoy life while we’re young and healthy?

The problem

If I had told my parents that I wanted to travel for an indefinite period of time, they would have asked me if I didn’t want to do something sensible with my time. And my parents are quite tolerant with that kind of stuff and don’t want me to have a great career. Instead, they just want me to have a safe life without worries.

The general problem is in my opinion that our society is based on consumerism. We want to show people what we have achieved. We want to share our happiness and how great our life is. And happiness is based on wealth.

Look how big and spacious our new flat is!
Look our new fast car!
Look, I can afford pricy designer shoes!
Look, I am on holidays yet AGAIN!

Did you really do it if you didn’t share it?

When was the last time you did something great and didn’t share it on Instagram or another social media platform? Sometimes I get the feeling that everything that we do is only to get the perfect shot to post on Instagram and to share our amazing lifestyle. We look only for “instagramble” spots and then want to travel to get that same shot to post on our feed. Everything is just a way of consuming and showing of. Even travelling, which has become the new lifestyle of my generation, is in my opinion just a new way of consuming. It has become the ideal lifestyle of breaking out of the business world and a symbol of happiness. But is it? Why are we searching happiness in the distance?

It feels to me as if it is more about the amount of countries you’ve been to than about the experience itself. They say “I have been to 50 countries”, but it doesn’t really matter if they have been there for only two weeks or even less. Maybe you can see a lot in two weeks but you don’t really experience a country. Especially when it has a completely different culture. Has travelling become the new way to show off how much you earn and that you can afford to go on vacation a lot? Why do we have to count the countries that we’ve been to and tell everyone about it? Does that make us happy?

Currently I am questioning this whole lifestyle. I deleted Instagram for the time of our trip in Indonesia, because I didn’t want to post anything at that time and just enjoy this beautiful country. However, it was shocking to see all the wannabe-influencers posing for the perfect shot and seeing the process and effort behind the perfect shot. How fake it all is. For what? Likes? Followers? Becoming an influencer?

The conclusion?

To be honest, I don’t really know how I feel about all of this. So far, I haven’t posted any photo of Indonesia on Instagram. But I feel the urge to do so and I don’t really know why. Probably to show everyone that I have been to Indonesia and travelled and had a great time. But does that make me happy? I don’t know.

Maybe, I just want to start a conversation and make others think about and question this lifestyle. What do you think about all this? What does happiness mean to you?

 

Minimal Packing – Clothes

How to pack only what’s necessary when travelling

It’s easy to pack too many clothes as it is hard to estimate how much you really need for a longer period of time. Additionally, I often don’t want to restrict myself to certain clothes and instead want to have a variety to choose from. However, it is so much wiser to limit the amount of clothes and travel with a lighter backpack. This way you can also buy clothes abroad and have something to remind you of the good times. By now, I know how to pack sensible and want to share my advice.

1. How long is my trip?

The first thing you should keep in mind is how long are you travelling for. This is an important question. Of course you need less for a weekend trip than for three weeks Indonesia. However, I think no matter how long your trip is, you shouldn’t bring clothes for more than two weeks or even less. If your trip is longer, you can always wash your clothes along the way. On the basis of this, I always make a rough plan you many tops and bottoms I might need.

2. What will the weather be like?

The next thing you should think about is of course the weather. What will the weather in general be like? Hot or cold? Also check the weather forecast for temperatures and rain. Logically, this determines what kind of clothes you need to bring.

3. What are my plans?

Of course it is also important to have a rough idea what you want to do abroad. Do you want to do sports or go hiking or prefer to relax at the beach and party in the clubs?

4. Are there any cultural restrictions?

It is advisable to discuss any cultural norms you might have to comply with. For example, Indonesia is a mainly Muslim country, so especially as a girl you should cover your shoulders and knees to not offend anyone. Sleeveless tops and hot pants would be rather inappropriate. If you’re not sure what is appropriate, take an example of the locals. I did so and especially in Java I would have felt rather naked in hot pants.

After considering the above you can start packing. Try everything on beforehand to see if it fits and if you feel comfortable in it. Pack only things you really enjoy and love. That spares you the feeling of “I’ve got nothing to wear”.

So here is everything that I’ve packed for three weeks travelling in Indonesia. We had planned an active vacation with a lot of nature and beach time and no clubbing.

Tops:

  • 1 longsleeved blouse
  • 5 T-shirts
  • 1 sport top
  • 1 Kimono-style cardigan (I would leave this one at home next time or only pack it if to cover my shoulders when bringing sleeveless tops)

Jackets:

  • 1 rain jacket
  • 1 fleece jacket (very handy for flights, airports and train journeys)

Bottoms:

  • 3 wide trousers
  • 1 Shorts
  • 1 Maxi skirt
  • 1 leggings for hiking

Shoes:

  • 1 pair of sneakers for long walks or hikes
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 1 pair of flip flops

Other:

  • 1 Pyjama
  • underwear for one week
  • 2 bikinis

 

I am quite satisfied with the amount of clothing I’ve packed. Of course, I could have reduced the amount of T-shirts or trousers, but this way I felt comfortable and I didn’t have to wash too often.

What are your essentials when travelling? Do you have any tips for minimal packing? Leave them in the comments! 🙂

Decluttering my closet

Tips for a reduced wardrobe

It’s a reoccurring phenomenon: Every spring people feel the urge to do a spring clean and free themselves from unwanted things that clutter their life. Just like many others, I felt the need to sort out my closet.

The problem with my closet

When I watch all the decluttering my closet videos on YouTube, I still feel quite sensible with my amount of clothes. Compared to those walk in closets, my wardrobe looks quite tiny. However, I just don’t need as many clothes and can’t even wear them all.

Why do I do this?

In my opinion, I do have a big closet and it is full. I even have troubles fitting everything in. During the past year, I discovered minimalism and it is something I want to incorporate more into my lifestyle. So far, I haven’t really minimalised my belongings and I don’t want to reduce them to a certain number. At this point, I want to reduce my clothes to the pieces I really wear, need and like. I don’t need five cream sweaters! So I came up with some tips to get a minimalised wardrobe that represents your style and makes you truly happy.

Does it still fit?

The best way to sort out your closet is by trying everything on and making sure that it still fits you. Do not keep those jeans that are way too tiny, but you keep them just in case you might lose weight again. Clothes that we don’t wear only takes up space in our closet which could otherwise be used better and filled with clothes that you really like and wear.

Does it suit you?

Does a piece of clothing suit you and do you feel comfortable in it? Does it complement your features? If something doesn’t suit me, I won’t wear it. I will only intend to wear it but then change into something else. You can easily throw these pieces out of your wardrobe.

Do you like it?

Do you even like everything that is in your closet? Are there some pieces that have negative connotations for you? If it doesn’t make you happy, get rid of it!

When have you last worn it?

This is a question that you have to be really honest with you. I own a lot of clothing pieces that I really like and think they are cool, but I have never or rarely worn it. Like that velvet jumper I never found the occasion to wear. I recommend to get rid of those pieces even if you like them. If you have never worn it there might be something wrong with it and there is no point of keeping it.

What to do with the clothes?

So, after you went through your whole closet piece by piece, you might end up with a huge pile of clothing. The next step is to get rid of these things. In my opinion there are two options. Donate or sell. Donating might be the easiest and quickest way. I try selling first but so far, I haven’t been really successful. Ripped or washed out clothes you could throw away or reuse as a cloth for cleaning.

What you shouldn’t do

I hate it when YouTubers upload a “decluttering my closet” video and two weeks later that upload a huge haul. If your reason for sorting out the closet is trying out a more minimal lifestyle, then don’t buy new things afterwards. Instead, enjoy the newly won space in your wardrobe and how easy it is to look through your beloved clothing pieces!

If you’re interested in general advice on how to reduce your fashion consumerism, you should check out this blog post!

Packing the toiletries bag for travelling

How to avoid overpacking

As shampoo, conditioner and shower gel can be heavier, toiletries can easily increase the weight of your backpack or suitcase. Therefore, it is important – as with packing in general – to reduce the toiletries to only what is necessary but also to not forget something (although in most cases you can just buy the things at your destination). So I created a list with things that you should definitely pack and things that you might consider packing.

The essentials

In my opinion, these are the most basic essentials you should definitely have in your toiletries bag if you want to keep it very minimal. Depending on the length of your stay, you can use refillable smaller bottles for products like shampoo and shower gel.

  • Tooth brush & tooth paste: depending on the length of your flight, you should pack these two into your hand luggage
  • Shampoo
  • Shower gel
  • Sun screen: always use sun screen! Your skin will be grateful in the future.

What you might pack

This category contains items that might come in handy but you could probably also live without them.

  • Make-up remover – if you don’t bring any make-up on holiday, you obviously don’t need make-up remover
  • Cotton pads – they might come in handy for using make-up remover or cleaning your face. I’m using reusable cotton pads, so I don’t produce any extra waste on holiday and it also reduces the amount of cotton pads I need to pack.
  • Deodorant: might come in handy if you want to keep fresh on the go. I use a spray bottle because I don’t like the aerosol deodorants (I can’t breathe after using them) but I also don’t want to use a roller in sweaty armpits.
  • Conditioner: It’s more of a luxury product, but saltwater in combination with sun can be really drying my hair out.

What is likely to be forgotten?

  • Nail file: I have so often forgotten a nail file and then one of my nails split.

In general I would advise you to go through your morning and evening routine and think of all the products you use. Then think of the things that you really need or regularly use. You won’t need ten different kinds of moisturiser, peelings and oils. Stick to the basics. For example, I won’t bring a body lotion because the thought alone of a sticky body in a hot climate is daunting to me.

Here is everything that I’m packing in my toiletries bag:

For the body

  • Shampoo
  • Shower gel
  • Conditioner
  • Razor
  • Deodorant
  • Sun cream with a high SPF
  • Hand sanitizer

For the face:

  • Cotton buds without plastic
  • Cotton pads, washable and reusable
  • Eye make-up remover for waterproof make-up
  • Facial oil
  • Tooth brush
  • Tooth paste

Tools

  • Nail file
  • Manicure scissors
  • Hair brush
  • Hair ties

Always remember: You can buy almost everything everywhere (except your travelling to a deserted island). So, don’t overpack and rather leave things at home. You can buy things locally afterwards if it becomes apparent that you can’t live without them.

 

 

 

#haulternative

Reconsidering fast fashion and setting an example

Most people know that cheap fast fashion is produced neither ethically nor fair. The collapse of the Rana Plaza building in 2013, which led to the deaths of over 1000 people, demonstrated that in a most alarming way. For many people it was a sad wake-up call. It also marks the start of the Fashion Revolution. It’s a movement that fights against the bad working conditions in the fashion industry and also calls attention to the environmental consequences of that industry.

Low wages and bad working conditions for a 5€ t-shirt

To be honest, I never really thought about the consequences of my fashion consumerism until I came across the documentary “The True Cost”. Of course I knew, that a t-shirt for 5€ cannot be sustainable nor fair. We have all seen the devastating photos of the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh. It is not a secret that the wages of the workers are extremely low and the working conditions are extremely bad. But have I changed since? No, because it never affected me! That’s what “The True Cost” gets so damn right. It is moving and also educating. Afterwards, I really felt the need to change and was also kind of ashamed of my behaviour. That is why, I take part in the fashion revolution week. I want to draw attention to an important topic and maybe cause some people to reconsider the fashion industry.

On the website of the Fashion Revolution you can find a lot of different ways to take action and be a part of the movement. One of these possibilities is the #haulternative. As you might know when you’re a constant follower of mine, I’m currently on a shopping ban, so I do not shop anything at the moment. And you don’t need to buy new things to update your wardrobe.

Try second hand!

It is a great way to extend the life cycle of clothes and you can prevent them from landing in landfill. I haven’t bought anything second hand in a while, because I really don’t need anything, but I am a huge fan of charity shops and online platforms like Kleiderkreisel, or Kleiderkorb. These are German websites but I am sure there are similar websites in every country. Currently, I am sorting out my closet and selling the things online. So far I am not very successful but I hope that my unloved clothing pieces will make someone else happy soon.

Fall in love again

£285 of clothes. That’s the amount of clothes an average British woman hoards but will never wear. Before you buy something new think of this and look through your wardrobe. Maybe there are long forgotten treasures you might fall in love with. I am currently trying on all the unworn pieces and I try to figure out if I actually like them.

Bad working conditions don’t affect me, so why care?

Humans are supposed to be the superior species. So why is it, that we treat each other and our environment so horribly? Even if the bad working conditions don’t affect you specifically, shouldn’t we care for our fellow humans? Isn’t empathy what is supposedly differentiating us from animals? But even if you don’t reconsider the fashion industry for the sake of the workers in Bangladesh, you should change your behaviour for the sake of the planet, our home. Our earth is not made for the massive consumerism we are burdening it with. Much of the clothing we buy gets thrown away without being worn once. Pesticides used on cotton plantages are polluting our environment. 2720 litres of water are needed to make a t-shirt. Humans are destroying the only home they have and it is on us to take action now! Better late than never.

How can you do more?

  • Be curious! Inform yourself, check out Fashion Revolution and watch “The True Cost”. It’s so informative and shaking!
  • Spread the word! Tell your friends and family about fashion revolution, but do not lecture them! In my opinion lecturing someone can often lead to the contrary effect.
  • Also, check out my blog post on how buy less and how to buy better! Reducing your consumerism and buying things that you will wear not just for one season also sets an example for ethical fashion and against the fast fashion industry!

 

Packing light for a three week trip – Beauty Products

How to avoid overpacking

From the end of April until mid-May my boyfriend and I will travel through Indonesia for three weeks. I am already really excited and in my head I’m planning and organizing everything. In the next couple of weeks I will share some tips on how to pack light for travelling. Today, I will start with beauty products.

When travelling for a longer period of time, it is important to me to reduce my luggage to the necessities. For me, it is so annoying to bring things on holiday which I didn’t need and could have spared. By now, I usually know what I need and use when I go on holiday. From my own experience, I know that I can quit most of the beauty products. On previous holidays I took several brushes, eyeshadows, different kinds of concealer, eyeliner (who was I kidding that I thought I might actually bother to use eyeliner?), … With the result that I only used mascara and powder and I probably wouldn’t have missed anything if I didn’t bring it in the first place.

How to decide what is important and what isn’t?

Of course, you want to look good while travelling as well. But before you pack your whole make-up collection, you should consider where you’re going and be honest with yourself how likely it is you will wear a full face make-up. Indonesia will probably be hot and humid. My everyday make-up in Germany is already quite minimal and in summer I tend to stick with mascara and bronzer. So, I won’t pack anything that I don’t use on a daily basis in my everyday life. If I don’t use it here, why would I use it on holidays?

Which product makes you instantly feel better?

If you feel comfortable without any make-up at all, I would recommend to leave everything at home of course. Even though I do feel comfortable without any make-up, I think I sometimes look a bit tired and pale. On these days, a bit of mascara can make a big change and I instantly feel better. Therefore, I will always bring mascara on a holiday – just in case there’s one of these days when I just don’t feel pretty at all.

What if I love make-up and I cannot go without the full programme?

There might be true make-up lovers among yourselves, who cannot relinquish anything from their make-up bag. In that case I would recommend 2-in-1 products. Instead of taking a separate bronzer, highlighter and mirror, I’ll take a product that is it all in one. That saves space in my bag. You could pack a lipstick that you could dab on your cheeks as a blush. You could also use a bronzer and highlighter as eyeshadows or even an eyebrow pencil as a kajal.

What is in my holiday make-up bag?

I think I did reduce my beauty products quite a bit compared to previous holidays. Here is a recommended selection with multi-purpose products. I settled with these products as a maximum, but I am still not sure if I’ll pack them all. I will definitely leave the lipstick at home.

  • Catrice – Glamour Doll Volume Mascara Waterproof
  • Catrice – Eye Brow Stylist, 040 Don’t Let Me Brow’n
  • Sleek face contour kit, light
  • Ecotools powder brush
  • Mac lipstick “Patisserie”

What are your essential make-up products on a holiday? Or do you need nothing at all?

6 tips for hiking in Norway

A beginner’s guide to exploring the Norwegian nature

Hiking is kind of the national sport in Norway and it is also something you can do for free in an otherwise rather expensive country. So, when I spent my semester abroad in Bergen, I knew that I wanted to try it, too. Back then, I had absolutely no hiking experience besides minor walks with my grandparents. Consequently, I had no clue what Norwegian hiking trails would look like. Still, like many other students, I had the goal to hike up to the top of all the seven summits around Bergen. Here are some things I wish I knew before and also some things you should keep in mind as you explore the Norwegian nature.

1. Get yourself some proper hiking boots

get proper hiking boots first
Proper hiking boots are essential!

One of the best investments I made were proper hiking boots. As it rains quite a bit and the terrain stretches from gravel and stones to muddy and slippery, I would recommend proper waterproof, over-the-ankle hiking boots. I am very satisfied with the pair I bought and they had cost only around 140€. My feet were never wet – even when accidently stepping into deep mud or puddles – and I felt secure even when the path didn’t give me the confidence I wanted. Proper hiking boots are essential!

2. The piles of stones are not just for decoration

trail markings along the way
Pyramids of stones mark the trail

This is probably a no brainer for people who have been hiking before. However, I only started hiking in Norway, so I didn’t know that these stones had a deeper meaning. They are actually – like the red painted T on some stones– another way to mark the routes. So, if you don’t know where to go next look out for the red “T” and piles of stones.

3. Appreciate nature

At the beginning of every single hike I was wondering why I was even doing this. I was easily out of breath and it could get quite exhausting. At the latest at the top of each mountain, these thoughts were forgotten. The feeling of reaching the top paired with the breath-taking view was worth it every time. Enjoy the beautiful nature and don’t get lost trying to take the perfect Instagram shot. Take everything in and also value nature. Also remember to only leave footprints and bring your garbage back with you to preserve nature.

appreciate nature when hiking in Norway
The satisfying feeling of reaching the top of Sandviksfjellet

4. Keep the weather in mind

Always check the weather forecast before hiking! Especially when you’re a beginner but also when you are more proficient. The weather can change quickly from sun and a clear sky to thick fog. I’ve heard from people who started hiking in the sun and suddenly entered thick fog and couldn’t see further than two metres anymore. As you can imagine, this can get quite dangerous if you can’t see the trail anymore or the paths become slippery. So always pay attention to the weather while hiking! It’s okay to turn around midway and continue the hike on another day. Your safety should come first.

5. The hiking trails

hiking trail sandviksfjellet

As mentioned above, I had no experience in hiking and had no idea what to expect in Norway. In my imagination there were nice trails and the way up would be a breeze. The reality looked a little different. The hiking trails are very divers: There are even paths which can get steeper, there are huge step-like stones, small rocks, sometimes you’ll have to use your hands and sometimes you’ll have to cross a small stream.

hiking trail in norway
Another trail on one of our hikes

Be prepared for that and do not underestimate the hike or overestimate your strength and condition. I wasn’t very sporty at that time, so I was easily exhausted and needed to take little breaks quite often. But that’s okay, too.

snow hike trolltunga
You can also come across snow, like here on the trolltunga hike

6. Get a hiking buddy

Hiking on your own might be good for the mind and soul as you are not distracted by anyone, but in my opinion it’s even better with a friend! The first hike I took was with a large group of students. Shortly after the beginning of the hike, I had to discover that the other students were a lot fitter than me and I couldn’t keep pace with the group. So, I turned around disappointedly. Luckily, I found a new bestie who was on the same fitness level as me and wanted to take the same amount of photos and breaks as me. After the first hike together, we continued to take all our hikes together and it was perfect. I can only recommend to try and find a hiking buddy on your level. You probably won’t talk all the time, so you’ll still have time to appreciate nature and let your thoughts drift away. Still, you’ll have someone to share the experience and create new memories. Additionally, it’s always better to be not alone, just in case something happens or you get lost.

These are my tips and things I wish I had known before my first hike. I hope you enjoyed these tips for hiking in Norway and they were helpful and you will be better prepared than I was. If you want to read more about safety and hiking in Norway, check out VisitNorway for more handy tips.

Also, leave your essential hiking tips in the comments!