Saturday, November 20, 2010

How Can I Be Happy

I find myself thinking about happiness a lot, recently. It's not necessarily that I am unhappy, but I know that I have been happier than I have recently been, and that I want to get back to that point.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, "A goal without a plan is just a wish."

Well, I don't wish to be happy. My goal is to be happy. And therefore I need a plan.

In these upcoming new few weeks I have a number of things to worry about, with the two largest things being exams and moving out of my townhouse--and to say "worry" is an understatement. I'm more than worried, because this semester has been largely more stressful than previous semesters. I am taking six fairly difficult courses, five of which have exams, and all of which cover a wide variety of topics... everything from macroeconomics to biology, philosophy to italian, sociological theories to sociological application. It's been quite a roller coaster, but I'm not about to give up with only three weeks of the semester left.

And so, instead of panicking like I've grown accustomed to doing in the past when things get tough, I'm making a plan--a plan to help me contain my stress and get things done while still maintaining my happiness.

But how can I go about doing this? Well, I've got a pretty good idea. It's just a matter of implementing my ideas and putting them to action.

1) I can cut back on things that are not necessary.
While, yes, I love my over-achieving, highly involved self, sometimes it is important to realize that extra-curricular activities can (and should) take a back seat. Just because I've attempted to join and participate in every aspect of campus life does not mean that I have to exhaust myself with my involvement. Now, don't get me wrong. I do love the things that I participate in, but sometimes a little rest and relaxation comes first. Over the past two years I've begun to realize that I just can't do it all, no matter how much I want to. If it means that I need to miss practice once a week in order to set my homework in order and be on top of things for classes without having to stay up until 2am every weeknight, I'm going to do it. If it means that I have to say no when someone asks me to do something extra for my job, I'm going to do it. Being the person who "does it all" takes a toll, and my happiness is worth more than someone else's opinion of me. Therefore, I'll make an effort to cut back and say no if it means getting an extra hour or two of homework or sleep in.

2) I can surround myself with good people.
This is so important for happiness. I've found that when I surround myself with people who complain about literally every. little. thing. it really begins to take a toll on my own happiness. Griping is contagious. If someone you see all the time does nothing but complain, whine and... I'll say it... bitch about his or her life, you'll find more and more that you're going to complain, whine and bitch, too. Instead, I've made an effort to spend time with people who make me laugh, make me smile, and make me feel relaxed when they enter the room instead of stressed out. I don't want to feel on edge the minute someone walks into my current space--I want to feel happy. And I think I've been able to achieve that by being more in tune to who I choose to spend the most amount of time with.

3) I can stop procrastinating.
Yes, it's difficult not to, but procrastination is a losing battle. Once you start, it's hard to stop, until suddenly a paper is due the next morning and you realize you haven't even read the prompt. So, instead, I'm going to make a conscious effort (and I have been doing so in the past two weeks), to use my time wisely. Instead of spending thirty minutes on Facebook, I'll choose to spend thirty minutes reading from my sociological theories texts. Instead of watching an hour of television, I'll spend an hour going over my Italian flash cards. If I have 40 minutes to spare before a class, I'll head to the computer lab to answer e-mails and work on a reflection paper. All of these sound easy enough to do in theory, but applying them to real life is the difficult part. It means being conscientious about how I spend my time and how much of my time I spend "doing nothing."

These are just three things, out of many, that I know I can do in order to be happier and maintain my happiness in the upcoming weeks when life will certainly get more stressful as exams approach and I begin to start moving.

What are some things you can think of that make you happy and help you maintain your happiness during stressful periods of life?

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