defending happiness

 

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“I’d far rather be happy than right any day.”― Douglas Adams

The older you get, the harder it is to say “I’m going to do this just because it makes me happy.” People tend to see ‘because it’ll make me happy’ as an act of selfishness, and they look for other motivations for your actions.

We become cynical and guarded and we think ‘she must be going out with that guy to get back at her ex’ or ‘he’s only doing x to make up for y.’ We see other people’s actions only in relation to how they affect us.

‘Because it’ll make me happy’ starts to feel like a juvenile reason for doing something, and we scramble to back up our decisions with more substantive reasoning.

What a horrible way to live.

True- we shouldn’t just do whatever we want simply because we feel like it, especially when it’s harmful to other people; but why isn’t happiness reason enough to live the life you want?

This sad truth is one of the many reasons that the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young. (I’m looking at you, high school study buddies and college roommates.)

They can remind you not to take life too seriously because they’ll be sure to knock you down a peg when you start acting too mature for your own good. They can bring you back to a time when you were less inhibited by lasting effects and empowered by the sense of invincibility we only feel in our youth.

They can remind you of a different you, the person you were before life became more permanent and decisions became more difficult. The person you were when your dreams were bigger than you realized and everything was uncertain. The person you were when happiness was a good reason to do anything.

It’s true – you’re wiser now, you’ve seen more of life and learned along the way. You have more accomplishments (and more failures) under your belt. But are you using what you’ve learned?

You would think the older you get, the more you would realize that life is short and that happiness is the BEST reason to take action, one of the only reasons that matters.

People look for the meaning of life as if it’s some big mystery. Is it crazy to think we’re here to love each other, make each other happy, and improve each other’s lives? Is it insane to think it could be that simple?

You become an ‘adult’ (supposedly) and you let other things fill your mind. You stoop under the weight of responsibility, of work, of family, of expectations of others. You forget the simple truth that you innately knew when you were young – that love and happiness are the best motivations, the only reasons that really mean anything at all.

Go back, if you can. Spend time with the people who knew you before you ‘knew it all.’ Reminisce. Revisit old dreams. Laugh.

Decide to cut the toxic parts (and people) out of your life, the ones that drag you down and masquerade as necessary evils. Do what you do (WHATEVER you do) because you love it.

And next time someone asks why you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing, I hope your answer is ‘because it makes me happy.’

words, words, words

IMG_3209 “Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words.” -Rumi

I haven’t written anything for myself in a long time. I could just say “life got in the way” but that would be a lie. More truthfully, life gave me much more than I was able to put into words.

For a writer, the writing of something is what makes it real. Life manifests when we’re forced to take our hectic and hazy mess of thought and turn it into something concrete, into words.

And lately I found that I couldn’t land on the right words. Maybe I didn’t want to face turning my thoughts into something real.

And then, the longer I waited, the more I perused the Internet these past couple of months, the more I started to feel that words were empty. Maybe it’s all the listicles.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve written them too. But why do we need to package things in lists and make the human experience fit neatly into categories? Life isn’t like that. It’s not organized into nice little lists, as much as we would like it to be- and as much as those listicles would like to make it seem.

You can Google 5 Steps to Get Your Dream Job or 10 Songs to Get You Through a Breakup, but all you’ll find is words. Nailing the interview or moving past the pain? There are no steps for that. It’s all just you, living.

You can make a new year’s resolution, but until you turn it into action, it’s empty. You can apologize for your mistakes, but until you change your ways, it’s just words. You can say you learned a lesson, but unless you apply it to the way you’re living, you haven’t really learned much of anything at all.

Resolutions made, mistakes, lessons learned- it’s all just life. It’s messy and it’s complicated. Sometimes it can be put into words, but it’s never, ever simple. That’s why the words we choose ARE important, and why we shouldn’t take them lightly.

I’m determined to put meaning back into my words, to turn my hazy thoughts into something concrete, into real actions. So where should I start?

My goals, and my words, are simple.

I want to embrace the changes in my life.

I want to choose the things that will bring happiness, regardless of the opinions and approval of others, the difficulty of the task ahead or the level of uncertainty that will accompany new things.

I want to take the inconvenient route if that one will bring the most joy, but I don’t overlook life’s simple pleasures.

I want to make sure I never take the good times for granted.

And I want to take every chance I get to say ‘I love you.’

Here’s to hoping this is more than just words, and that I can get my words to mean something again- even if just to me.