Sometimes, all it takes to achieve happiness is to see beyond the dark clouds that shroud the bright blue sky.
The other day in Psychology class, we learned about cultures — Collectivistic Cultures and Individualistic Cultures. In this ever-progressing world, we are all learning to be more individualistic; it’s a game of the “survival of the fittest”. If you’re like me, with a vicious Type-A personality, you would immediately assume that happiness lies in achieving our goals and dreams. What many of us, including myself, fail to realize is that while we are in pursuit of these goals and dreams, we neglect our present selves — psychological needs, emotional needs, physical needs, you name it.
Why do I say “needs”? I truly believe that what humans need, above anything else, is to be happy in order to survive. I’m not saying that it is the sole necessity in order to live each day, but it is just as important as food, shelter and water is for survival. Have you ever heard of other people dying as a result of depression? Many a time, we brush it off and think to ourselves, “Suffer now, be happy later.” But while we keep putting it off, have we ever wondered when this “later” will be?
Every single day of our lives, we strive for success. We want to stand out and be better than everyone else. We want to be noticed, and we want approval from society. Let me tell you this straight up, as a Social Science major — it is impossible to please everyone. The remedy to that? Don’t harm yourself just to fit in. Don’t go on roller coaster diets, and don’t purge yourself just to look thin. I do not believe in calling any other person “ugly”. Society tells us that beautiful means large eyes, a small nose, B-cups (at least!), long legs and a UK2 waist. Don’t believe that. Pretty does not always mean beautiful, and just because she is pretty, it doesn’t mean you are ugly.
On the other hand, if you are not satisfied with something about yourself, do not be afraid to change it. If you think you are a little too temperamental, simmer down. If you think you aren’t good enough in your studies, work harder or play by your strengths. There is nothing wrong in trying to better yourself — but only if you’re doing it for yourself and not others around you.
Also, never be afraid to embrace your weaknesses. Truth be told, I think that confiding in someone in times of trouble is a sign of weakness. Because of that, I try to suppress whatever form of sadness I feel, but that is not the way. Over time, these emotions just get too much to bear and it spills out of me like water in a broken dam. Never, ever be afraid of being weak. Hiding your weaknesses does not mean they will go away. Even Samson had his own weaknesses.
I also find that the hardest thing to do every day is to see the good in everything. Being forced to live on campus although home is so near means elevated levels of frustration every single day. Assignments, lectures, tutorials and exams add to these frustrations and all this is enough to send me into a pit of weariness. Sometimes, however, when it is hard to fall asleep, I look back at my day and find myself thinking, “Today wasn’t that bad. I managed to have a cheap yet appetizing lunch”, or “I had fun between classes today.” When you stop to take a look at the little things in life, it really isn’t as bad as it seems.
When you push all of these things aside — the need for mass approval, the fear of change and weakness as well as pessimism, happiness doesn’t seem so far out of reach. Ultimately, aside from stable finances and good health, my main goal in life is to be happy. Because when you’re happy, anything is achievable.
Will you come with me on this journey to seek happiness?