Why The Only Thing You Need To Do In Life Is Choose To Be Happy
Disclaimer: You may not agree with everything that I will say (which I would never expect from anyone).
I am not a motivational speaker, nor am I the poster boy for the pursuit of happiness; happiness is a rare and individually unique experience for everyone.
Therefore, I cannot speak about happiness as if I know an ancient, universal secret to living a happy life. It’s evanescent, happiness comes and goes. Somedays happiness finds you.
Other days, happiness tucks itself away, waiting for us to stumble upon it (always by accident, never on purpose).
Happiness is a feeling, that when experienced, both the body and mind uses as a sort of compass to direct us towards more sources of happiness.
In other words, happiness is a biological and emotional tool that we use as the basis for living lifestyles based on reward rather than punishment.
While this is objectively true (to an extent), here’s where things get slightly tricky. Happiness varies for all persons.
So once again, I cannot speak of happiness as if I know a universal way to living happily. However, I want to share a part of my life’s journey about why and how I’ve committed myself to the pursuit of happiness in my life.
A few months ago, I left my first “real” job. With my big boy pants on, I moved to California from my home in Brooklyn, New York, where I soon discovered that I was way in over my head.
Financially, my bank account was a joke, my family and friends were at least 2800 miles across the continent, and my post-college professional credentials were in their infancy stage.
A stable job was exactly what I needed, especially being a recent college graduate with a B.A in English and Philosophy. After half a year of being unemployed (keep in mind, Sallie Mae only gives you a 6-month grace period to start paying off loans after you graduate), I landed a job in Sacramento, California.
The job paid relatively well, seeing as how I was fresh out of college with little to no professional experience.
More importantly, I was able to hold off the barrage of impending bills that left my bank account looking like I only worked part-time.
At the same time, I was playing rugby for a local team in Sacramento.
Having played rugby for 7 years, the role that rugby has had in my life has evolved from a recreational pastime that I discovered in high school to my passion that has made my life more meaningful than I could have ever imagined.
So as you can begin to guess, a conflict of interest between my job and my passion for rugby was inevitable. I knew this was the case when I had to take a week off from work for a tournament in Colorado.
Luckily, my supervisor (being a former semi-pro baseball player) understood that opportunities to play at an elite level, like the tournament in Colorado, come few and far between and he gave me the green light to take a week off from work.
However, since this article is about choosing to be happy in light of being rational (I guess?), I must add that I was only able to take 15 sick hours for the +40 hour work week.
In other words, my financially-struggling self chose to take a pretty-hefty pay cut for the week I wasn’t going to be in the office – all for the sake of pursuing my passion for rugby.
Fast forward a month and a half later, the opportunity to play rugby and tour Australia for two weeks presents itself.
Here’s where the conflict of interest became almost too unbearable. Do I take two weeks off from work for to play rugby in Australia, with the extremely probable chance of losing/having to leave my job, or do I stay at work, continue to make money, and not have to repeat the painful process of finding a stable, enjoyable job?
Well, as the title of this article implies, I chose the former over the latter.
Here’s why. As much as I enjoyed the company of my coworkers and receiving a substantial paycheck bi-weekly, I always felt that my day never actually started until I left work and started focusing on rugby.
In other words, the part of my brain that is geared towards happiness felt as if I was depriving myself of what makes me happy all for the sake of being “rational” or as older generations would say, “being responsible.”
Of course, it sounds a bit ridiculous and ungrateful of me to say that going to work and being a seemingly responsible adult was depriving me of doing what makes me happiest, but it’s true.
I did not feel happy at my job (No offense or shade being directed to my former employer).
I wasn’t happy because I actively chose to put myself in a situation that merited the illusion of (financial) stability over the tumultuous, yet satisfying, ride that is happiness. Me being me, I listened to myself.
4 months have gone by. I’m currently unemployed, struggling even more to make ends meet than when I was just out of college, and spending a bit too much time inside of my apartment with two spirited cats.
Despite my slightly comical and despairing circumstances, I feel the happiest that I ever been in my life!
I don’t regret losing my job. Going to Australia and playing rugby down-under was awesome and really everything I could have imagined.
I now have time to focus more on developing myself: focusing more on rugby, coaching, and other activities that I’m passionate about, like throwing down in the kitchen, networking, and experiencing the the city that I live in.
Although I am unemployed, a bit behind the curve in terms of my own “professional” success, and getting by on a day-to-day basis (for the time being), I feel happier than I have ever felt before.
I choose to be happy because it’s all I know. Time wasted on drudgery and the avoidably mundane things that came to be a part of my life are a thing of the past.
My passions have helped me define who I was, who I am, and who I want to be. You see, happiness isn’t an object or goal that can be accomplished, it’s a philosophical outlook on life that you either accept, don’t accept, or are simply just unaware of.
However, the beauty of happiness is that it’s subjective as hell! You must discover your own unique sources of happiness (ideally things that are constructive and positive, of course).
Once you reach that point, challenge yourself to understand how you became happy and what you think you must do to stay in that state of happiness.
I don’t want to say that happiness is as simple as that but… it really is as simple as that.
Happiness is everywhere, waiting to meet YOU, how you get there is up to you. Lastly, what good is an op-ed without the an adequately interpretative quote.
So… as a great poet of the 21st century, Schoolboy Q, once said, “Get yours, get yours, get yours…by any means.”