Your own happiness is obtainable


Lavette Williams, Editor-In-Chief

I want you to take a look around you – at your life, at your relationships, at your living situation, at your workplace. Ask yourself, “Am I happy?” I know this seems like such a basic question to contemplate, your own happiness. But, really, think about. Are you happy?

Often times, we use the New Year to “Marie Kondo” the items in our homes. We get rid of any item that no longer holds any significance to us, any item that no longer “sparks joy.” But we forget to cleanse other areas of our life. And so, we are stuck in toxic environments, with negative relationships, at jobs that we despise.

When we do not like an item, it is so easy to throw it away. After a hard breakup, it is so easy to rip up a letter, to delete an Instagram photo or to burn their favorite hoodie. After the semester is finished, it is so easy to return our textbooks, to trash our old homework or pass down our notes to a classmate. However, when it comes to disposing things in our life, we freeze. We reason, we make up excuses, we submit. We become paralyzed, fearful that in losing that friend, that apartment, that job, we could lose a part of ourselves in the process.

I know this feeling all too well. I have lived it, and seen others do the same.

I had a friend who had worked in retail their whole life. 12 hour shifts, short breaks, always on their feet. They were miserable. They would come home with the life sucked out of them, only having the energy to eat and then, sleep. Several years had gone by before they finally woke up one day and said, “I’m not happy. I’m going to go back to school to finish off my degree so that I can do what I’ve always dreamed of doing.” But, again, this was years later. What would have happened if they had asked themselves if they were happy? Would they have acted sooner?

Maybe this means nothing to you. Allow me give you a more relatable scenario. Perhaps, you are living on campus and you are roommates with someone that you do not necessarily get along with. The two of you are constantly arguing and because of this, it puts you in a horrible mood. Eventually, your bad temper affects your sleep and then begins to affect your school performance. Would it not be simpler for you to remove yourself from the equation? Don’t you think you would be much happier?

And, what if you were living in a dingy house? Not only is it a distance away from your family and your job, but it is also infested with bugs and something is always collapsing. You are always spraying the corners of your home, always spending money to repair it. Wouldn’t it be less expensive to just move somewhere closer, somewhere where you could spend more time living in it than restoring it?

The answer to most of these questions is yes.

Incessantly, we are sacrificing our own happiness for comfortability. So, we are not happy, but we cannot imagine ourselves anywhere else so we stay. We stay and our mental health suffers in the process – we become depressed, our anxiety intensifies. Little do we know that in sitting still in our unhappiness, we are always going to want more, and most of the time, it cannot be given to us … not from where (or who)  we are wanting it from. We are essentially hurting ourselves in the process.

A Russian writer by the name of Leo Tolstoy once wrote: “If you want to be happy, be.” 

Be, he wrote simply as if the answer lay in that one word. Be. I translated this to mean: if you want to be happy, be happy without any compromises, any restraints. If there is a job that is draining you of all your energy, be brave enough to quit it. If there is a relationship that is making you walk on eggshells, be honest enough to end it. If there is a living situation that is taking away from you, be bold enough to move. Be.

In 2021, I am challenging you to evaluate your life. Does your life make you happy? Are your relationships pushing you to be a better version of yourself? Is your workplace somewhere you are content being at? Is your home a comfort or a hassle? Do these things make you happy? If you answer no, I want to encourage you to make it happen because only you have the power to do something about it.