How often do you consider yourself “happy?” I’m talking, ‘sun shining out of your ass, grinning from ear to ear, nothing can get me down’ kind of happy? Does it vary from week to week depending on your work load, or the progression of your relationships, or how many times you made it to your evening kickboxing class? Is it based solely on the number of dinner parties you were invited to last month, or if the Starbucks barista spelled your name correctly on your grande skinny vanilla latte? How many miles you were able to run in under 20 minutes, how many pictures your ex-boyfriend is tagged in while intoxicated? What, exactly, constitutes your happiness?
Too often, it seems as though our expectations for desired happiness exceed that which we are able to realistically manifest. Take, for example, how an entire day can be ruined by a single coffee stain on a perfectly pressed white button-up. Or, when a trip to the beach is cancelled because a Sunday thunderstorm made an early appearance on Saturday. For many of us, when something falls apart — be it on a large or small scale — it temporarily tricks us into thinking that everything is falling apart. It takes the negative energy we have toward the one aspect of our lives that may not be so stellar, and magnifies that energy onto other, unrelated aspects. It’s a vicious, karmic cycle that only we have the power to control. Because once our outlook is pessimistic, it doesn’t matter how many “thank-you” emails we receive or how many happy hours we are invited to; we somehow find a way to turn every plus sign into a negative.
Yes, sometimes it’s the little things that determine our happiness: making it to the froyo spot on 30th Ave right before it closes, walking down the subway stairwell just as the next train arrives, your boyfriend leaning in for a kiss just because. Yes, the little things can mean a lot. But when these trivialities don’t pan out — and there will come a time (or 20) when this is the case — don’t freak out. Take a personal time-out, watch from the sidelines, and stop to view the bigger picture. Are you really as unhappy as you think you are, or is it just the expectations in your mind, playing games with your reality? Is store-bought froyo really that awful? Will waiting for the next R train rain on your entire parade? Does your boyfriend love you less because he can’t kiss you while playing COD?
My point is, being happy shouldn’t be as complicated of a process as we make it out to be. Being happy shouldn’t take an extreme amount of effort. When you think about the people in your life, the love you’ve been blessed with, the places you’ve never been but can’t wait to visit, the strangers and secrets that pass us by on the sidewalk on our way to the office, the countless memories we have yet to make, is it that hard to put a smile on your face? We think not.
So the next time your dinner plans fall apart, focus all that leftover positive energy on dessert. I mean, who doesn’t love dessert?