If You Want to be Happy…

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a pessimist. I blow small things out of proportion, I have anxiety attacks over nothing, I always expect the worst, I throw pity parties for myself on a daily basis.

Do I enjoy being in a constant state of negativity? No, not at all. So why am I? Why do I deny myself the simple pleasure of being happy? What’s so hard about looking on the bright side instead of worrying and overreacting?

I have a lot of positive aspects in my life which vastly outnumber the bad, but I’ve noticed that I tend to focus only on the minuscule problems I have instead of focusing on everything that is good.

Today is the second-annual International Happiness Day, a day established by the United Nations that recognizes happiness as a “fundamental human goal.”  Today is a day for kind words, positive vibes and free hugs. And in honor of today, I’m making a resolution: to be happy.

St. Patrick's Day with Hatch 5. One of many very happy days I've had at college.
A Hatch 5 St. Patrick’s Day celebration. One of many very happy days I’ve had during college.

I have a lot to be happy about.

I’m happy that I’m going to college at Mizzou, which is home to one of the best journalism schools in the country. I’m a beat writer and a columnist for The Maneater. There’s no other place I’d rather be, especially when it comes to preparing myself for my career in journalism.

I’m happy because I have the best friends that anybody could ever ask for — both at school and back home in Kansas City.

Hatch 5 geeking out at the midnight premiere of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."
Geeking out at the midnight premiere of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” One of my favorite nights.

My Hatch 5 family at Mizzou has made Columbia a home away from home. It’s crazy to think that I’ve only known everyone for seven months. We’ve had many adventures since we all came together in August — an ill-fated trip to the Magic Tree, dodging creepy guys at frat parties, cosmic bowling, celebrating snow days, degenerate tailgates and being intoxicated at football games.

Outside the stadium before the Homecoming game. Even though we lost, it was still a great game and a very happy evening.
Outside the stadium before the Homecoming game. Even though we lost, it was still a great game and a very happy evening.

I’d be lost without my friends at home. It’s great to know that I have such a solid group to come home to when I’m not at school. I’m happy that I can be myself around all of these kids and that they, for some reason, still seem to love me.

One of many happy summer nights at the Drive-In back home.
One of many happy summer nights at the Drive-In back home.

I’m happy that I finally got my braces off, and that I can now enjoy eating without the fear of getting half of my food stuck between my brackets.

I’m happy that I’m in school, doing well, and have professors who inspire me, get me thinking, and genuinely care about the success of their students. (And I’m happy that I only had one class today).

With all of these beautiful things in my life, it doesn’t make any sense why I spend so much time obsessing over what I don’t have. Right now, I’m exactly where I need to be in life.

Today is a beautiful day. It’s the first day of spring, sunny, 68 degrees, breezy. The campus is alive with students playing soccer, walking their dogs and basking on the Quad. Take it all in. Make the 20 minute walk to Noodles and Company with your friends. Drive around town blasting Lady Gaga with your car’s top down. Be happy.

Happiness is a choice. If you want to be happy, make the decision to do so. You don’t have to have everything you want in life to be happy.

As Leo Tolstoy said, “If you want to be happy, be.”

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