Happiness must be sought out

Elaine Lac

When you’re on campus buried in schoolwork and activities, it may seem impossible to find happiness. You may question your abilities, lust after clothes you can’t afford or despair over your appearance. We want happiness and sit still until it comes knocking on our doors. But, we can only become happy by actively searching for it.

First, be happy where you are. You can spend every second of your life wishing you were vacationing in Bora Bora or that you were a billionaire, but instead, you should make the most of what you have. You may be hundreds of miles away from home, but you can still be content with your surroundings and find happiness where it’s hidden. Watching a good movie, eating a nice meal or hanging out with interesting people can all make you happy. Even having peaceful solitude can make you happy. The key is a positive mentality.

Learning to love yourself can also make you happy. I’ve spent my formative years comparing myself to others largely because of my parents. They constantly nagged me about my weight, laziness and mediocre grades. It used to make me doubt myself, and I would always assume other people were better than me.

If you place unreasonable expectations on yourself, you will end up insecure and miserable. Everyone has a different skill set and some people are better in other areas than you, but you are also better at other things, too. You can’t take everything too seriously and must instead learn to appreciate your own talents.

Own up to your mistakes and take responsibility. You may be anxious over a bad grade, an argument with a friend or a mistake you made at work. Instead of moping about it, learn from it, apologize and move on. Dwelling on things only makes you more miserable. Dealing with your problems immediately and not blaming yourself clears your conscience.

Take some risks. Much like Jim Carey’s movie “Yes Man,” you have to say yes to the opportunities given to you. It can be small like a cup of coffee with a friend you don’t know so well or something bigger like trying out for a theater production.

By sampling different things, you can find your interest. The University offers a multitude of activities like zip-lining or food sampling. There’s something out there for you. Opportunities, like people, will not always appear automatically. You have to seek them out.

Lastly, maintain balance. We are allowed to determine how we spend our time: with friends, school, sleeping or having fun. Do no overload on one thing. Like William Ernest Henley said in “Invictus,” “I am the master of my fate.”

We are the ones in control of our lives, and you can’t blame externalities for your problems. Everyone is allowed to be happy, but only if we allow ourselves.

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