I’ve been doing alot of thinking about happiness the past few days.
People always say, “life is short, do what makes you happy.” People say this so much, in fact, that it has become trite. It lacks emotion, guidance, and most importantly, meaning. We, as Americans especially, do not do what makes us happy. We do what makes us the most money, gets us the nicest car, makes life “easier” and “faster”. We get so wrapped up in what we think makes us happy that we lose sight of what really does.
A kid in my class, who happens to be dating my law school bff, ran a marathon on Sunday. Yes. He ran a marathon the day before an exam. When other people in our class heard that news they were stunned and even appalled. How could someone possibly run a marathon the day before an exam that’s worth their entire grade. Could you only image the horror of what that could do to a pristine GPA?
While some were shocked by the news, I was totally and entirely swept up with happiness. I found it completely inspiring and absolutely incredible. The back story behind this marathon is that it’s in his hometown of Cincinnati, he has run this (and several other marathons) before, and he wants to run it every year. He refused to miss it this year just because it was during finals week.
I don’t know him very well, but I imagine that running that race on Sunday made him feel great. I can also imagine that if he had missed it he would have been greatly upset and disappointed- and perhaps unable to focus his hardest on our exam yesterday.
His drive to do what made him happiest, at the expense of something that will eventually be trivial, was so inspiring to me. And it got me thinking.
I have always hated traditional measures of “success”. I hate tests and I hate grades. I always have and I always will. I think they are an absolutely moronic way of measuring knowledge and progress. Some people don’t perform well on tests- that doesn’t make them dumb and it doesn’t mean they won’t be successful. It means they don’t do well on tests. I will never sacrifice my physical health or mental well-being for a grade that means nothing about me and personally, I think it’s foolish to do so.
I also will never sacrifice my health or well-being for a “good” job, or to make alot of money. You see, these things just don’t matter to me and I don’t think they should really matter in general.
What matters to me is spending time with people I love, having free time to cook a nice meal at the end of the day with food I grew in my garden, going for a long run on a sunny spring morning. I care about experiences. I care about people. I care about being happy and well in the long run, not about the grade I get on my Civil Procedure final tomorrow (which will mean nothing in approximately 3 years).
I encourage everyone to seek out what makes them truly happy. Not what other people tell you will make you happy, but what makes you feel the very best on the inside. Don’t measure your personal success in terms of arbitrary numbers or grades, how nice of a car you drive, or how much your outfit costs. Measure it instead by how much you smile each day; how excited you are to get out of bed in the morning; how much you love your life and the people in it.
Run your own personal marathon every day- so when you go to bed at night, you can feel like you did your best that day to achieve happiness- not a grade or a possession, but true deep-down joy know that you did everything you could. Stress should not be at the “finish line” of your day- if it is, you need to reevaluate.
Happiness should not be a long term goal of life- it should be something we experience every day, as our present reality.
Thinking of this has really helped me put things in perspective, and I hope maybe it helped others too 🙂