Interviews about creating positive habits and cultivating happiness
This is the third article of our “Inspire/d” column, a series of quick interviews where incredible people share their best strategies to get a good balance between wellness and productivity.
The aim of this series is to create a supportive community where readers can learn new habits to improve their happiness and level of awareness.
We believe that a single happy person can positively impact a group of people, a group of happy people can create a happy community, and a happy community can contribute to a better society. A better society means more well-being for people, all living creatures, and our planet as a whole.
My name is Angela Jones. I am an educator, entrepreneur, and social worker. I am the founder and director of Mango Academy, a small alternative primary school and community education center in rural Santa Catalina, Panama. When I don’t have my brain on a million ideas to make my students or our community better, you can find me on a surfboard or on the dance floor 😉
What’s your story?
At some point in my mid 20’s I realized I had absolute creative control over my life and that however epic or mundane that it would be was totally dependent on me and the extremes to which I would drive myself. I have sought to craft my life to be of utmost satisfaction to myself and simultaneously of service to those around me. I have been successful in sensing needs wherever I am and at finding ways to adapt myself to meet those needs in some way. This skill has led me to do a number of incredible places, with exceptional people, doing unimaginably beautiful things, and has most recently led me to start an alternative school and education center in rural Panama.
Can you define yourself as being happy?
I can always define myself as being happy. I think it’s just a matter of knowing how to look for it and staying active in that endeavor. I find happiness in each breath, each day I wake and have movement in my body. I find it in the smiles of my students and in the hugs and help of my community. I find it in each wave I drop in on, and in each morning meditation session. I find it in lying in a hammock staring at the trees or by dancing barefoot reggaeton at that one spot in our tiny town. Even on the worst days, I force myself to find an excuse to be happy, and ten times out of ten, it works.
What is the best habit that has contributed or contributes to your professional success?
The courage to imagine. Having the capacity to envision yourself or your business in a new way. The courage to imagine yourself not only succeeding in but also thriving in a new environment, imagining yourself mastering a new skill, even though you may fail at it initially. The courage that you can make things happen, and trust that you will by any means necessary. I’ve seen many times that this imagination is simply a manifestation of what is to come. But the step that precedes all the other important habits which foster success is to simply imagine it.
What is the best habit that has contributed or contributes to your personal wellbeing and happiness?
Always seeking a balance and listening to the incredible mechanism of my body and energy to let it determine what I need. I am a libra, and I do feel somehow that balance is in a way in my blood. I can’t say just slowing down is the way to my well-being, because so is running and dancing and surfing. I can’t say that always eating healthy does it either, because sometimes an ice cream with a friend brings everything in alignment. I can’t say that staying home to meditate and go to bed early is always better than a great party with my best friends when I get home way after my bed time. The key to my well being and happiness is definitely encompassed in inviting all things in their moderation.
How do you keep your motivation consistent over time?
I want to know every day (or at least most) that I am using the beautiful gift of my mind, spirit, and body that I have been blessed with and also sharing that gift with others. For me, to not absolutely maximize my potential in all of these ways, is a waste. It seems a bit morbid, but honestly the thought of death keeps me true to doing my best. Not in a fearful way, but in an accountable way, thinking if I am happy with the day, week, month, year if I were to die at any moment. And this keeps me in alignment with my best, it prevents me from wasting the beautiful mechanism of my body and short changing the essence of my spirit.
Are you adopting some habits to reduce your environmental impact?
I definitely work to keep my personal impact as low as possible and that of my business too, which may be even more important because efforts there are even farther reaching. I partially chose to live in Santa Catalina due to the more sustainable lifestyle I knew it would make me live… well that and the surf 🙂. Here, by in large, less is always more. So primarily we live our lives mostly outdoors, which for me is perhaps the most important. Having this familiarity and comfort in the natural world is critical for the life I envision for myself. Because we live so much life outdoors, our houses don’t have to be so big, and this cuts down on the things we consume to fill buildings. Air conditioning is never used during the day in my home or at the school, and heat does not exist because it’s the tropics! Recycling is difficult to access, so I try to avoid buying plastic altogether. At Mango Academy, we almost totally avoid using typical craft store supplies to make art or inventions, and instead opt for cool recycled trash that we find on the beach or use only biodegradable materials. Students must bring reusable water bottles every day. Many in our community have backyard garden including at the school. Most recently we planted about 30 yucca trees in our back yard and we harvest from the 13+ fruit trees in our back yard. I don’t own a car, I walk, sometimes with 15 pound of veg from the Fruteria! Heavy load, but I also love what it stands for as I carry it to casa. Again the small town that I chose is conducive to this choice. Almost no one I know has a television, instead my favorite activity (surfing) requires almost no negative environmental impact except the surf board production. I work on a personal level, and at the school to keep refining our processes and minimizing our impact as much as possible, and I am always open to tips and suggestions!
What is the best lesson you have learnt so far?
Somehow this Van Gogh quote I read at some point made itself into a bumper stick on the inside of my brain and my heart. “What is done in love, is done well.” And I think this has been one of the most key guiding lessons. If love is your guide for how you live your life, the activities you choose, and the people you choose, how you treat yourself, and for the place that you choose to do all of that in, then love will literally form your life. And can you think of a better foundation for your life? You never have to question if you’re doing things right. It’s a relief from the weight of life. It’s a beautiful assurance. Just follow love.
Thank you, Angela!
We really hope that her life approach has inspired you. If you want you can follow Angela on Instagram.
If you feel like it, you can reply to the questions as well: it will help you better understand your own approach to life. And, if you want, you can send us your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org . We will share the most original with the rest of the community here on our blog.
1. Introduce yourself!
name, age, and (optionally) job role, main interests
2. What’s your story?
how would you summarize your journey in 5 lines
3. Can you define yourself as being happy?
4. What is the best habit that has contributed or contributes to your professional success?
5. What is the best habit that has contributed or contributes to your personal well-being and happiness?
6. How do you keep your motivation consistent over time?
7. Are you adopting some habits to reduce your environmental impact?
8. What is the best lesson you have learned so far?
Moleskine Journey is an app available on iOS and macOS that helps you write your story and support your personal evolution. Discover Journey here.