How to Be Happy

happy (adjective): characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy

The project of allowing myself to be happy has, arguably, been one of my biggest struggles. I’m not sure why it’s so difficult to allow myself to feel true happiness, to be certain that things are okay, to smile and live in the moment and not worry about what’s coming down the line, or when things are going to get bad again.

I’m both my best friend, and my worst enemy, as cliched as I realize that sounds. Because while I’m the one who can always bring myself up, find something to smile about, get myself into a positive, chipper mood… I’m also the one who can doubt herself and everything around her, wait for something bad to happen (and fear that it inevitably will), and revert back to days of old where it felt like I was surrounded by clouds of darkness, sadness and general unhappiness.

It’s easy to trip up and fall back into a pit of concern; a pit of questioning… “Is everything really okay? Maybe I made this person angry, or I’m annoying them. Maybe that compliment was them just being nice. Maybe I really am just as worthless and hopeless as I used to feel in those days, years ago.”

It’s not like I can’t be happy. I know I can; but it’s that nagging thing in the back of my mind that says “How can you be happy right now? Things are on the precipice of falling apart; this little happy charade you’re playing out is going to be over soon, so don’t even bother.” It’s as though, many times, when I begin to feel happiness, like life is really, really good, there’s a little voice asking me “…. well, are you sure?”

Allowing myself to be happy means pushing that thought off a tall cliff. It means recognizing that I deserve to be happy, truly happy. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am today, and all my past issues be darned, I’m doing this thing.

It means swallowing my fears and recognizing that realistically, things aren’t always going to be okay. Life isn’t always filled with sunshine and rainbows; there’s going to be a cloud every once in a while, and sometimes a storm. But just because a storm comes, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the sun, too.

Allowing myself to be happy means not worrying about the storm; not waiting for the storm to come, or waiting for the other shoe to drop, as some might say. That’s not a good pit to fall into, and I’m really, really trying not to. I’m trying to embrace the positive things in my life, and allow myself to be happy — because I’ve earned it, damn it.

I just wish it wasn’t so hard sometimes, but the important thing is, I’m trying.

The Challenge: 100 Things That Make Me Happy

One of the projects I’m currently working on is compiling a list of 100 Things that Make Me Happy. The task is a bit more arduous than I had expected it to be, but in the long run, I think it’ll be worth it. I hope it will help me to appreciate my life a little more, appreciate both the bigger things and smaller aspects, and allow me to take a good look at my life, my choices and my journey, and it’ll be something I’ll be able to look at whenever I’m feeling down.

My challenge to anyone reading this is to do the same. Be forewarned, it may take a while. I’ve been working on my list for weeks and I’m not even 1/3 of the way done. But I think it will be worth it in the end.

Think of things that make you happy. People, places, vacations, experiences, books, things you do or things people say or places you go… anything that makes you happy. My list as it is so far includes everything from “the way the leaves change colors in autumn” to “getting paid from work” to “dying my hair a new color when I get bored with the old one.”

I’m not sure how long it will take me to get to 100, but it’s all about the positivity. Thinking about these things has already made me a happier person, bit by bit. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up going past 100, but that’s my starting point.

So go for it, readers. Make a list of 100 things that make you happy, and allow yourself to reflect on those things during the good times and the bad times. Get happy — you deserve it.