on being happy

Yesterday I bought a $20 lavender-pink peplum top from Urban Outfitters. It wasn’t one of those impulsive buys that occur weekly in my life, because as some of you may know, it’s a rare occurrence that I buy a top above $12 (ah, ah, rules I know. It keeps my bank account happy and my closet expansive!) It was the fact that when I first laid my eyes upon it, I was outrageously happy. i also instantly knew it would be $20, because all tops on sale at Urban Outfitters have always been that price. Within split seconds, I am already looking for an XS. The price ceased to place any sort of tug on my buying decision. The design, the color, I already know this beautiful shirt will accent my body and brighten my personality. That perfect shade of lavender pink matches my childlike happiness so well. This I know is wonderful. This I know is a shirt that I’d like to wear as often as I’d like.

In moments like these, I realize that there is a path, a quite simple path at that, to happiness.

Take the initiative to surround yourself with people that uplift you. I am not trying to propose the idea that you discontinue friendships at all. I’m saying that you should spend more time with people who understand you, who value you, who you not only have a good time with, but those who you feel alive around. Those friends that you drink with bimonthly, who’ve known you for 4 years, will always be there. Make new friends. Mend old friendships. Find meaning. Don’t do the same old shit all the time. There’s a reason why it’s called the same old shit. Do what your heart desires. Please. Search for something fresh. While creating peace with all that is around you is vital to growth and understanding, sometimes life is not always about incessantly meeting halfway with every encounter. Sometimes life means weeding out what doesn’t contribute to your happiness. Stop waiting to see if you’re in love, to see if your “significant other” is the one for you. They probably aren’t but you have convinced yourself to remain where you are. Stop confining yourself to the known instead of branching out into the unknown. If you always play it safe, you’ll never see all of life’s treasures. This waiting game is a losing game. Exit now. Don’t sit around waiting to be happy, waiting to be noticed by others, waiting for something to change. When we wait, nothing happens. We put our lives in the hands of our environment. We let the environment control us. Instead, leave what doesn’t make you happy. Be brave enough to start over. Know that starting over also does not necessarily mean a blank slate, it means shifting your perspective in how you process the world, and in hand, how you take action from these thoughts. Understand that it is important to take care of yourself, to love yourself, that your happiness should not be far and in-between. Happiness should not be a sigh of relief. Happiness should be the very core of your life, found in work as well as with relationships, and most importantly, with you.

William Gibson, a fascinating science fiction novelist whose intelligence skyrockets through the roof, once said, “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”

I am so unbelievably happy when I walk into Jamba Juice on a warm day and order a Razzmatazz smoothie. It makes me so happy when I wake up to a sunny kitchen, because my kitchen window faces east, telling me it’s going to be a bright day today. I love when I finish showering before the water runs cold, and I love when I have the motivation to cook breakfast, whether it be oatmeal or scrambled eggs or anything simple really. It beats just taking a slice of bread on the go, if even that. I love when my thirst for life outweighs my everlasting desire to lay in bed, because I tend to justify this behavior due to my love for lucid dreaming.

Every day I wake up and realize that less and less is needed to make me happy. Does this make me passionless? Of course not. It’s, actually, a silent but ever constant light enthusiasm. It’s bubbly. Today I woke up at 8:30am. After heading to bed close to 3am, I am surprised myself, seeing as I don’t have work until 11:30 and I would have otherwise woken up at 10am, probably 10:15am to be honest, and you know what, probably actually 10:30am because I have a committed relationship to the snooze button. At 8:30, the air feels alive, airplanes are zooming by, flocks of bird are zipping by. Everyone has already left for work at this time. I can feel the quietness.

The less I need from the outer world, the more I can create from the inner world. What does this mean? This means that all the little things not only satisfy my soul, but my heart screams with happiness. Instead of trying to create happiness in the outer world, I find happiness in the still-life. Dare I say, I find happiness in the mundane? A good find at a bookstore, a cheaper item than expected, a toddler who shares with me his thoughts, the smell of laundry, freshly brewed tea, and back to what originally started this entry: a lavender-pink peplum top.

We can be happier at a more constant level when we simplify our lives. Instead of filling in every space in the calendar, take time to do nothing. Take time to sleep, to rest, to breathe. By simplifying our lives, this does not indicate that we reduce our lives to nothing. This does not mean you quit your job, find new relationships, and fly out to a new place, although if that fits your niche, then go for it! By loving life as is, instead of expecting change, we don’t set ourselves up for perpetual disappointment. Simplifying our lives does not suggest that our lives have become less meaningful. Instead, it’s to recommend a new set of eyes with how we approach our life. If we can walk a little slower, talk a little slower, become aware of our emotions and what our body is trying to tell us, and follow this, we can become much more at peace with ourselves. We are in a constant fight with ourselves. Our body wants sleep, yet we go out for not only that Friday night, but Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Our body sends signals to us that we’re hungry, but we’re too “busy” finishing an assignment at work or too lazy to get off that couch and into the kitchen to grab something to eat.

I can tell you what makes me happy. I know that I’m happy when I’m preparing food, when I’m baking brownies or muffins, and I’m off to share it with my friends and co-workers the next day. I know I’m happy when I’m writing, when I’m laughing with friends, when I discover an article or a piece of artwork that melts my soul. I know I’m happy when I drink orange juice and when I read poetry.

What doesn’t make me happy? Working 40 hours a week. When my dad asks me when I’m going to go to graduate school. When I’m irresponsible, whether it’s bills, parking tickets, or overdue library books, and am fined as a consequence. When I can’t seem to relate to the people that I’ve met, but I still say yes to that Friday night of drinking and put on a smile because I tell myself friendship with all persons are important. When the food in the fridge expires or has gone rotten because I was just too lazy, for many days on end, to cook. When I put others’ needs in front of mine in such a manner that it ceases to contribute to my own happiness. When I apologize when I shouldn’t. When I constantly respond to, and adjust my energy to, pestering people in my life because I don’t have the heart to tell them that I feel stressful when we converse.

Do you see the pattern in what I have just listed? The overarching theme is that most of my suffering is, indeed, self-induced. What does this mean? This means that if I live within the borders of an unhappy life, it is my choice. I choose to stay where I’m at instead of becoming aware of what I can do differently, and extracting that plan. This is the hardest part to admit for some people, that our lives are in our hands. We commonly put the fault at others in order to negate our own responsibility for the lack of action we take in our lives. We wait for other people to change so that we can be happy, instead of being courageous enough to alter the situation ourselves. It is important to fight for your happiness, right? So what’s stopping you?

If you’re unhappy living at home, but there is an offer to live at a friend’s place, then so go do it! Close your laptop, find a job, save up enough money so that you are able to live on your own, so that freedom and independence may soar through you. Stop buying that morning coffee. Let’s say you buy a morning coffee every weekday for a whole year. If you extinguish this behavior, there’s a round trip ticket to Europe right there (with spare money!). Instead, replace this act by waking up a few minutes earlier and let the smell of freshly brewed coffee illuminate your home. Work hard, know that the small details contribute to the big picture, but don’t let the work prevent you from starting.

I’ll tell you a secret. Our fear of missing out on what we already have prevents us from moving forward to what we could have. Once, I told someone that there are no such things as missed opportunities, it’s just our imagination spinning scenarios based on the past, not the future. You can’t miss what didn’t happen to you. He exclaimed, “that’s exactly what it is!” But here’s the thing, when you justify your current life, you’re trying to rationalize an emotion, you’re trying to tame the impulsive. When you battle with your conscience, you fight between what you should do and what your heart yearns, and you scrounge for reasons to instead take the former route. To put it simple, you give yourself excuses. Instead, ride the waves of desire with confidence. Like the saying in Taoism, you move with the waves, you recognize your energy and you align yourself with it. As silly as it sounds, you go with the force!

I leave this with you today. “I know it feels like you have all these options and when you make a decision, you lose a world of possibilities. But the reality is, until you make a decision, you have nothing at all.” -Janet Fitch

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