Take Responsibility for Your Happiness
Smile once in a while, you know?
No one will ever be able to claim that I am indifferent. I have never been blasé about a single thing I’ve encountered. I feel. And when I feel, I do it with my whole being. The world consistently moves me with its awe-inspiring wonder and its equally striking horror and sadness. I am inspired to action each and every day. These daily actions may be simple, small victories and they may seem frivolous to the outside observer, but, in a life that is my own, every single one of them counts. Waking up and making the conscious choice to be happy does not demean or diminish the bad in the world, nor does it mean that you are blissfully unaware of it: it just means that you’ve taken the time to find the good.
When there are real problems in the world we band together and we fight. Revolutions and wars have been waged and won because of the united front we become when fighting for what is right in the world. If we can band together for the physical, then why can we not band together to fight for the emotional? Why, when it comes to being happy, do we brush it aside as not being important? Contentment does not come with laziness: it is earned. Happiness does not come from passivity: it comes from action. We do not need to have everything be right in order to be happy: what we need is strength of self and of character to move beyond our societally-learned “woe is me” mentality that focuses all of our energy on what others have and refocus on how we can help those around us who are fighting to achieve what we have.
There will always be the “haves” and the “have nots”: someone will always be more successful, richer, more attractive, thinner, stronger than you. So what? Those aren’t the most important things of life anyway. Look at the people you surround yourself with. Are they adding to your life? Do they make you feel good about yourself? Now ask those same questions to all the aspects of your life. Work? Family? Partners? Home? Education? True happiness doesn’t come from having everything you want. Instead, it comes from appreciating that which you have and striving to see the good in each part of your day.
Taking Happiness Beyond the Nostalgism of the Retrospective
We have been told that when we have finished growing up and look back on our lives, it is the experiences we had and the relationships that we cultivated that will truly matter to us. Why, then, do we choose to spend such great amounts of our time trying to achieve the material things that won’t bring us actual happiness? When we forget to stop and appreciate the little things that make us smile or bring us joy we damn ourselves to only living half-lives. There is obvious trouble in the world around us that needs to be combatted, but to what end? It’s about time that we stopped trying to change and fix the world to make it a better place without having first setup a secure foundation of happiness; otherwise, you may as well be building your castle on pillars of sand.
When you come across people who will speak negatively to you or about you, take it for what it is: their own insecurity. Even those emotions—the ones that aren’t full of sunshine and starlight—need to be felt. The world isn’t a place full of ever-constant joy, but it doesn’t need to be for us to be content and happy in our worlds. As a child I was taught to “kill them with kindness” and, for the most part, it has served me well. Now, I want to amend that lesson. Regardless of how nice you are there will always be people who are malicious and mean. So, instead of killing them with kindness, just be civil. Nothing more, nothing less. If, despite all your civility and general nicety they continue to be unwarrantedly cruel or rude, it’s time to leave the situation. Yep, that’s right, I’m completely condoning “running away”, but I wouldn’t look at it that way. Sometimes people just don’t want to be helped and they don’t want to be made happy. If they are having an effect on your own happiness and there is nothing you can do to change it, forget them. There is no shame is admitting that you can’t make the whole, wide world utterly perfect and that, sometimes, people are just jerks.
How can you make the world around you a better place? How can you make the people you encounter feel like they aren’t alone in the world? Those are the questions we should be focusing on. Don’t be afraid to move on. Don’t let the world change the smile on your face: let your smile change the world.