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Happiness: A Dream or a Lifestyle?

Happiness is something that, as humans, we all try to obtain in one way or another. Whether happiness is winning that big championship, or getting that promotion or finally getting that new car you wanted, we all have this envisioned, picturesque moment where all our aspirations and hopes and dreams finally come true. But as everyone inevitable finds out, that happiness only lasts a moment, and then when that moment is gone you’re right back where you started. I had an english teacher that did a heavily analysis on society and the American dream when we read the Great Gatsby. Her analysis was that life was like a wave, you work hard, make the right decisions and with a little luck, you move up in the world, you move closer to your dream. But then something happens. Someone dies, you lose your job, your house gets foreclosed, whatever it is, it drags you back to the shore, right where you started. And these moments of pure happiness that you experience, those are just giant waves that are so close to your dream that you think you’ve finally reached it, until you’re dragged back yet again.

While my english teacher’s inspirational view on life contains some solid points, I have to disagree. I can’t possibly believe that happiness is only a brief moment you live. From my experience, happiness is how you feel during these moments, and every moment before that. Every second we feel something; regret, sadness, pride, envy, confidence, satisfisfaction, distain, passion, and happiness. We don’t just feel one thing we feel a combination of feelings which is why our thoughts are so difficult to explain. I believe that instead of waiting for happiness after a long period of time of work and stress and misery, that we simply have to chose happiness in the present. I believe that it’s okay to be sad, but if you can feel sad while simultaneously feel happy, that’s when you have truly achieved pure, unrelenting happiness.

The reason I believe this is from numerous past experiences. I’m fortunate enough to spend every summer in Maine and in many ways it’s become my refuge away from work, stress and anxiety. Throughout the school year I often yearn for the bliss and serenity I can only get from sitting next to the lake with the breeze in my face. I feel the exact same way as someone striving for a goal that is out of their reach, I feel that if I could be in Maine in that moment, sitting next to the lake instead of sitting in class that I would truly be happy. It was in these moments that I realized, why would I spend precious time wanting something I can’t have this second? So instead I appreciate the fact that I have such pleasant memories to recall and something amazing to look forward too in the future.

Another example is playing in tournaments with my club volleyball team. I used to be terrified - and I mean terrified - of competing against other teams at a tournament. I hated the anticipation of driving to tournaments knowing you would go through that weekend stressed from the competition, exhausted from a lack of sleep and then have the go to school the following Monday with your scribbly homework you did in the gym in between games. It was all just too overwhelming and I wanted tournaments to be over as soon as possible. As I got older it became more apparent to me that getting nervous before tournaments is completely normal, and that I could still be happy and have a good time even though I was nervous. With that realization, I began enjoying myself so much more and I learned what I really loved about volleyball and why I continued to play when I was younger despite all the anxiety it caused me. The moments when your team all cracks up at an inside joke during the match, or cheers their hearts out when someone gets an amazing kill or that last point when you win the match, these are the moments worth playing for because they give me the satisfaction and happiness I need to apply to other areas of my life. 

Re-booting your mind to focus on the fun and the positive aspects of life requires a lot of re-assurance and time. It took me a couple of years before I really felt comfortable on the volleyball court, and it took me years to cope with being away from Maine during the year. Everyone’s journey to happiness will look a little different depending on one’s situation, but by re-thinking all the negativity in your life and turning it into a positive, everyone can achieve true happiness.

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