Why Happiness is stupid. (and unattainable)
In the world we live in today it's easy to lose track of the things we love. The things that make us excited in every way, even if just for a smidge of time. Like when you get paid and suddenly you're singing to the radio. (You never sing to the radio). Or if you finalize plans to head to the lake with some friends for the weekend and suddenly you're planning outfits a week in advance. (rare...)
Do you remember the last time you belly laughed?
When was the last time you forgot all problems, heavy thoughts, or responsibilities, even if for a moment?
For a lot of people it's not possible to simply ignore a problem or anxiety. Sometimes we don't have the power to ignore things that are stuck in our brain or are out of control. To that I would say look deeper into your mental health, because it's one of the most overlooked illnesses and it can affect everything we do, but thats not what I'm writing about today.
As a fresh adult, I'm in the in between where I still like the fun of being a teenager, while having all the responsibilities, (as well as freedoms) of a grown adult. It's hard not to feel guilty for wanting to do things I indulged in as a teen now. But! sometimes it feels like I'm about to scream when I realize all the bills, hours to work, and responsibilities I have as an adult. It's easy to get caught in the middle. Stuck between.
It's times like these where I turn to the things I like. The things that make me full of joy.
Here's a few of mine:
having a picnic with friends eating honey goat cheese and fruit.
being at my grandma's house. (It always smells like memories)
bonfires that start at sunset with music and s'mores.
putting on a really cute outfit just to go get coffee.
reading a book and forgetting where I am.
labeling my books to then organize them on my shelves.
baking or cooking while watching a show.
letting myself scroll on tik tok until I get bored.
make lists about the things I'm excited to do.
get lunch with my parents.
laying by the lake until I get hot, to then jump in the lake and repeat.
Here's a few more little ones:
the smell of my dads shirts when I hug him.
the way the lines on the road pass the car to the beat of a song playing.
the smell of rain.
the eerie quiet at night when it's snowing.
how my nose looks when it's a little burnt.
the smell of cinnamon when theres a street fair.
the look on my mom's face when I come over and she doesn't expect it.
when I find the book I've been looking for in a store.
the rare joy of receiving mail addressed to you (not bills)
having absolutely no plans at all.
And so many more.
Are you thinking of your favorite things?
I hope so!
These things, whether they be the real thing or just the thought of experiencing the real thing, are joy. We live off of joy.
An article from The Atlantic describes it perfectly. Ian Bogost describes an encounter with designer Ingrid Fetell Lee which completely sums up what I'm trying to say.
"The designer Ingrid Fetell Lee gave me a new tool to help me clarify those thoughts. “Happiness,” she explained yesterday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, “is a broad evaluation of how we feel about our lives over time.” That makes macroscopic evaluations of happiness difficult if not oppressive. How do you feel about your work, your family life, your health, and all the rest? Thinking about it is too much to bear, which only makes you feel less content.
To arrive at happiness, Lee suggests pursuing it from the bottom up, by finding (or creating) moments of joy. Unlike happiness, joy is momentary and small-scale: It comes from an intense, momentary feeling of positive emotion. In Lee’s view, that makes joy measurable, at least qualitatively. Something that makes you smile, or laugh, for example, like watching a dog play or feeling the texture of sand pass through your fingers. Joy is tiny but visceral, Lee said, the “little moments that make us feel more alive.” Over time, those small moments are what lead to happiness."
Similar to the point Lee made, joy trumps happiness.
What do you remember looking back on your life, the day to day contentment of living in your house, or going to work?
Or is it the moment your daughter threw her graduation hat in the air?
The relief after final box is unpacked in your new home?
The tik tok that made you pee your pants laughing?
The smell of grass wafting through your rolled down windows.
The embrace of your family after a long time.
It's these things that stick to us, make us remember what we love. These are the things that stick to us when it feels too suffocating to breathe.
it's the little things.
That's all for now :)