I'm in my early 20s and, as you guys may know, your 20s are when you're still finding yourself, learning what matters to you and what really drives you. Last year, I was going through a similar experience. One evening, during my weekly existential crisis (which happens to everyone, right?), I asked myself the question, am I happy?
To my surprise, I realized the answer wasn't a resounding yes, so I started analyzing why. After some very philosophical deliberation, I was still drawing a blank. I couldn't figure out why. This question kept hounding me on multiple occasions, and it was starting to stress me out–because there was no real reason I shouldn't have been happy! There was nothing "wrong" going on in my life.
2018 ended with me knowing something needed to change. I just didn't know what.
In January 2019, when I got an email about a personal development class at work, I signed up immediately. Expecting an all day training class to fix all my life problems makes total sense, right? Anyway, the name of the class was Best Year Yet. It was designed to help you identify the behaviors you could cultivate to make 2019 your best year yet. They made you reflect on the past year and identify what went well, what didn't, and the underlying reasons behind it.
When I was jotting down all the things that went wrong in 2018, I had an epiphany. All the times I asked myself if I was happy, I was subconsciously expecting it to just come to me. As if happiness would just drop into my lap randomly. The phrase that encapsulated my epiphany was "Seek happiness, don't wait for it." It just sounds so powerful, a little cheesy sure, but still powerful. And I must admit, I'm a little proud of it because when it was my turn to share my phrase with the class, a lot of people went whoaaa. I think it resonated with them too.
With this newfound realization, I was able to free myself from my self imposed shackles. Whenever I caught myself thinking if I was happy, instead of impersonating a philosopher, I'd just go do something that made me happy. I'd go read a book, or go to a coffee shop, make plans with friends, or make a hot cup of chai–not chai tea, just chai–cause chai means tea. Sorry that's just a pet peeve of mine.
The next noteworthy event that helped me was lunch with my awesome mentor, Lisa. She wanted to make a development plan for me, and asked me to think about my goals. A big one was positivity, cause I had a tendency of being cynical.
Lisa came up with the wonderful idea of keeping a thankfulness journal. As the name implies, it's a journal where you jot down things you're thankful for. It helps you gain perspective on how there's actually good stuff going on in your life, and that it's not just a big dumpster fire.
The things you're thankful for don't all have to be groundbreaking events, they can be the little things that made you happy for even a second. To exemplify, I've put things like my latte, the beautiful weather, my scented candles which bring me joy, etc. I've also written about more profound things like being thankful for my friends, my family, my job, etc. Also, Toastmasters has been featured a couple of times too, which means our club is doing something right!
Now, it's not like my life is perfect all of a sudden, but I know I've taken a step in the right direction. I've observed my mood is a lot better overall and I feel a lot more positive. I like to think I've been more outgoing at Toastmasters too, although I don't know how noticeable it is. I'm also learning to open up more to people–you know, being vulnerable really isn't so bad.
If there's anything you take away from this blog post, let it be this: be thankful. Be thankful for the little things just as much as the big things. Harboring on negativity isn't worth it. And finally, don't wait for happiness, go out there and seek it!
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