Tag Archives: happiness

10 things that made me really happy today

29 Nov

I’ve realized recently that I think sometimes I blog about the good things so I can stop thinking about the bad things. This may or may not be a form of denial. Well, screw it. I’m emotionally exhausted and this week isn’t showing signs of improving much. So I’m doing what we bloggers do and focusing on the little things.

Number one:

This is what me and my brother do after the dentist. (Sorry, Dr. Lovingier.)

Number two:

Molly McAleer. (Read this and this. And this quote is so me.) She is kick-ass.

Number three:

Climbing into bed with clean sheets and my wonderfully and aptly named comforter.

Number four:

Seeing a crowd of people wearing party hats on Metzger Lawn celebrating President Corey’s birthday.
Birthdays? DBC? Party hats? Crowds? Public celebrations?
The whole thing just filled my heart with glee.

Number five:

Sitting in the living room with Janet, Lauren, and Raquel,
50% doing our homework, 50% sharing things on the Internet with each other,
and 100% laughing a whole lot.
(We also made the “First World Problems” wall that I have been wanting to for a while now…details later!)

Number six:

My friend Lauren’s review of Breaking Dawn. She makes me laugh out loud.

Number seven:

Number eight:

I wanted to jump in these sooooooo bad!

Number nine:

Drinking coffee first thing in the morning.

Number ten:

Feeling liberated.

BONUS: QUOTE OF THE DAY

“They probably crap roses and fart perfume.” -Janet

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yesterday was ridiculous.

28 Nov

I’m not very good at talking about sensitive (to me) subject matter in a tactful and discreet way, at least not in writing, so let’s just say that 8:30 am breakdowns, stiffly silent car rides, and shouting in church parking lots do not make for the most calming way to start your day. And finding out, when you’re sitting in Starbucks with a huge and bright red suitcase next to you waiting to get picked up, that your ride’s car has broken down three miles away and now both of you are stranded half an hour from home, is not that great of a way to continue it. It was definitely a could-this-day-get-any-worse moment. Not that I was annoyed. I just felt so bad. Poor Kyle.

Finally his car started working again and he made it over to Starbucks to pick me up. Our original plan had been to go to the beach (it was 85 degrees and I was seizing what may have been my last chance to swim in the ocean this year) and I was totally expecting him to be all, “Let’s just go home.” Honestly, at that point, I would have been kind of fine with that. And that’s what I would have said if I was him. But instead, he was all, “Let’s go swimming.” So we went. (He even let me vent to him the whole way there.) And then I bought myself a burrito from Wahoo’s (so good! why don’t I eat there more often?!) and peppermint ice cream from Baskin Robbins. And then I was a much happier girl.

We didn’t end up getting to the beach until four, but I was determined to swim for a little bit – it used to be one of my favorite things to do, but I can’t even remember the last time I did it, and, like I said, I thought this might be my last chance. So we went in. It was freezing. And scary. And we were only in for five or ten minutes and I was EXHAUSTED by the time we got out. I think the whole thing sent my system into shock. But it was totally worth it.

And then I felt better.

the attainment of happiness

21 Nov

I’ve spent the last few months thinking a lot about happiness. How to get it, mostly. The answer, I’ve found, lies in the same place most answers lie – in finding a balance. In this case, a balance between change and contentment. Between identifying what it is that is making you unhappy and altering those factors, and learning how to be happy in whatever circumstances you currently find yourself.

One of my favorite things in life is when things keep popping up in different ways and different places that all lead back to the same idea or concept, things that are so closely related that it makes it so obvious what lesson life is teaching you right now. It reminds me of when somehow I realize that I’m studying the same exact thing, albeit in different ways, in three of my different and completely unrelated classes. I’m going through one of these times right now – not in school, but in life. I think it started around the beginning of this semester when this period of general malaise and discontent started. I started trying to figure what it was that was making me unhappy when, on the surface, it seemed I had no reason to be – and I started trying to figure out how I could get happy again.

When I mentioned something along these lines to my – I don’t even know what to call her, my therapist? That just sounds so weird – anyway, her name is Charis, and when I mentioned to her how inexplicably unhappy I had been feeling lately, she directed me to a mindfulness lab that a couple of Rosemead students had started to teach on Wednesday nights. I only went once, but it’s really not a difficult concept, and once you’ve grasped it you can pretty much just practice it on your own with no outside guidance, unless you want to challenge yourself more and more with it. Basically, mindfulness, or mindful meditation, is something that I think was originally taken from Buddhist meditative practices, but it really doesn’t have to have anything to do with the Buddhist religion. All it is, is simply stopping, or pausing, and becoming aware of your surroundings – and then accepting them. It’s about noticing what’s going on in your mind and your body, and letting it happen instead of fighting it. It is bringing your complete attention to the present – not the past, not the future, but now, this moment. It’s a meditative practice, but it’s something that should ideally be brought to every moment of your life for true effectiveness.

This is what mindfulness means to me. I am a high-anxiety person. I always have some sort of thought simmering underneath the surface about planning for the future, worry about something I’m anticipating, or something of that sort. When I remember to be mindful, when I pull all of my attention to focus to this moment, I become okay with this moment, no matter what is happening. It’s strange and hard to describe, but it brings such a high level of calm to my brain to stop thinking about what’s going to happen. It’s a way of taking a deep breath with my soul and recalibrating myself within my surroundings, instead of attempting to control my surroundings – which is really impossible. I never want to totally lose my thirst for the change element of life, for my ambition, for personalizing my circumstances as much as possible – but what it’s so important to remember is that sometimes I can’t change things. I can only change the way I encounter and deal with them, the way I process them through my psyche and my actions.

Cut to last weekend, when I’m doing a last-minute reading of Samuel Johnson’s philosophical fable The History of Rasselas for my British lit class. Imagine my surprise when this strange story I’ve never heard of out of my Norton anthology starts sounding really familiar as Johnson posthumously draws parallels between my life and that of Rasselas, unbeknownst to him. Rasselas is a prince of Abyssinia who lives in this place called the happy valley with all the other princes and princesses, who have never known any other place. Every need or desire that the royal sons and daughters could possibly foreseeably call for is thought of and provided for. And yet, in the face of this life lived in the lap of luxury, with no clear desires to be seen, Rasselas finds himself in a state of discontent. He realizes that he does have a desire – he desires something, anything, to desire. He comes to the conclusion that contentment in life is partially found in identifying and meeting one’s needs, but he has never had the chance to do this. He feels that there must be something better out there, and so he escapes from the happy valley to seek for his choice of life, to find the contentment he longs for.

Spoiler alert: Rasselas does not find the happiness he thought he would in the outside world, and ends up returning to Abyssinia, his high expectations having been disappointed. But reading this story brought into focus a thought I had been sort of looking at out of the corners of my eyes for a while – the idea that happiness is largely not created by your external circumstances, but your internal circumstances. Even if Rasselas continued to search for happiness, he would not have found it, because it’s clear that his main problem was that he just wasn’t the kind of person who found contentment easily. I know this because I am one of those people. I am good at identifying things in my life that I want to change, pretty good at changing them, and not so good at staying happy with these changes. So I’ve started to realize that the problem isn’t with my circumstances; the problem is with me.

And then I came across this article online last week.

“Life only sucks if you do.

I know, that is a strong statement. But you see, here’s the hard truth – life isn’t how we see it; how we see life is how WE ARE.

If you’re having a stressful day, you are actually bringing stress to the day.

If people are mean, you are bringing the judgment of mean to everyone you see.

If you can’t seem to get a break, it’s because you are choosing to see failure as permanent instead of a sign showing you where to go.

If life isn’t fair, then the rules you have made up about life are holding you back…

We get from life what we bring to it. Plain and simple.

This doesn’t mean things will always go our way; this doesn’t meant that tragedy won’t strike; this doesn’t mean that life won’t be challenging.

But, what this does mean is that we have the power to apply an empowering meaning to what happens and we can choose to learn and grow. Anyone who is successful has overcome challenges, personally, professionally and spiritually.

Our aim should be to train our minds to be strong like strong muscles, so that we can apply an empowering meaning to tough times. As we walk The Path we must become the person it takes to manifest our dreams, otherwise we are simply wishing, hoping and dreaming. We must act.

Going to the gym with weak muscles and just positive thinking your way through to being able to curl 100lbs won’t do it. We have to work. And we have to be willing to go through the pain, but instead of being held captive by the pain of growth, love it and be grateful for it.”

And now I decide how I want to be. Do I still want to look honestly at my life and identify the things that I could change to make life easier, happier, better, and then change those things? Yes. I always want to be growing, changing, knowing myself more and creating the life that I want to live. But I also want to learn to take things in stride. To face setbacks with determination and action, not with dejection and complaining. I want to find an inner equilibrium, something that will keep me steady through every stage of my life. A quote from Rasselas: “Do not disturb your mind with other hopes or fears than reason may suggest: If you are pleased with prognostics of good, you will be terrified likewise with tokens of evil, and your whole life will be a prey to superstition.” I take this with a grain of salt. I don’t want to lose the enthusiasm I feel when good things happen in my life, but my mind definitely gets disturbed by things a little too easily. I want to be just a little bit more steady than I already am. I want to focus just a little less attention on changing my external circumstances and just a little more attention on strengthening my internal state. That way, I know I’ll be ready to face whatever comes my way – and I’ll be able to do it with a smile on my face.

10 things that make me really happy:

16 Nov

1. An email from my American lit professor telling me I did a “superb job” on my written midterm

2. Getting new issues of The New Yorker faster than I can read them!
(Those darn articles are so long!)

3. Figuring out that the secret to making it through a podcast is to listen to it in the car (Thanks, new little iTrip!)

4. Triple peanut butter ice cream
(Kyle and I have been working our way through all the flavors of Ralphs’ Private Selection ice cream. This one is INTENSE.)

5. Making dinner and eating it while listening to This American Life curled up on a little corner of our kitchen counter

6. Moments at Disneyland that continue to make me laugh long after they happened (“Did we just exorcise a demon?”)

7. Before Sunset (and, actually, Before Sunrise).
Both of which are available on Instant Netflix (my favorite kind of movie!)

8. Watching 2 Broke Girls every week

9. Our Love Is Easy by Melody Gardot and Moon River by The Honey Trees

10. Making my own breakfast burritos and watching Lost* (okay, the number of things on this list that have to do with media and entertainment is ridiculous).

*I have ONE episode left! One!

10 things that make me really happy:

3 Nov

1. Watching leaves blow down the street and off the trees in sheets, thanks to the gloriously strong wind that was blowing yesterday!

2. Making black bean and feta cheese quesadillas (although I think I’m going to stick to making burritos from now on with those particular ingredients, because feta cheese is not so good at the whole melting and holding the tortillas together thing. Which leads to more black beans on the plate and less in my tummy.)

3. Sushi + Slumdog Millionaire

4. Making French toast for all of my roommates (and the guy who came to turn our pilot light on!)

5. Thinking of creative Christmas gift ideas for everyone!

6. Inside jokes

7. Getting an $1800 scholarship for this year (Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Richard and Judy Phillips! I don’t really know who you are, but you sure made my day and your generosity is such a blessing!)

8. Taking a shower and feeling instantly 100% better

9. Driving with a miniature pinscher in my lap, his little head tucked up under my chin

10. Writing with pink and green highlighters