Why I’m Happy

The great thing about happiness is that it can be experienced even when things aren’t going exactly how you want them to. Even when you know you have more to accomplish, more to achieve, and more to overcome, you can feel good about who you are and where you are in life–and it doesn’t take anything extravagant to do so.

Why am I happy? I’ll give you six reasons.

1. My basic needs are met. I rose from a bed in a temperature-controlled room this morning. I had hot water for a shower, clean clothes and a warm coat, and money to buy a breakfast sandwich. Those things that seem so simple, so commonplace are worth much more than they can seem.

2. I’ve got a few of my wants, too. I don’t have a car, but I do have a handy iPhone with which to check a real-time bus schedule. I wore my favorite eyeshadow today. In addition to the basics, I have many luxuries. I’m grateful for them.

3. I have a job. I woke up to a lovely direct deposit this morning. While everything about my job certainly isn’t perfect, I’m able to take care of both my needs and wants. In this economy, that’s enough to make anyone happy.

4. Not only do I have a job, but I have a job in my field. I’ve been obsessed with magazines ever since I picked up Reader’s Digest at age 6, and today, twenty years later, I’m working at a magazine publishing company. After working numerous temp jobs and fretting about my career path, I can only be happy about how far I’ve come.

5. I’m graduating in May. My education has been a particularly daunting part of my young adult life. I was a journalism major when I started college, but I hated it, so much so that I dropped out of school (that’s where all the temp jobs came in). I endured a loooong serious of fits and starts before changing my major to English and getting the money to finance it all. Eight years after I enrolled at my D.C. university, I am finally set to graduate on May 11, 2013. Nothing will stop me from getting there!

6. I have loving family and friends. While I had to end relationships with people who weren’t true friends, I did gain new friends who are caring, supportive, and honest. My family is open and affectionate, and I know I am loved and able to return their love. For that, I am most certainly happy.

I could go on and on about why I’m jumping for joy today (and I probably will in another post), but instead I’ll reiterate the point that happiness doesn’t require anything extraordinary. You don’t have to be wealthy. You don’t have to lose five pounds or grace magazine covers to achieve it. All you need to do is take stock of what you have–and if you’re reading this post, you have a lot more than a large percentage of people on Earth–and decide that for right now, in this exact moment, it’s enough for you. If you can do that, you can be happy every day.

To Be Cleansed from Complaints

I’ve got a little problem: I’ve been complaining. A lot.

It’s so easy to do. As soon as I get in the car and I’m ready to roll, I’m irritated because someone is driving super slowly. Then someone going straight blocks the right lane so I can’t turn. When I finally get to the convenience store to buy a magazine and orange juice, someone’s buying lottery tickets. Ugh. As if he’s going to win, anyway! And don’t even get me started on the holiday shoppers. ‘Tis the season to curse folks out.

As someone who believes in the power of positive thinking, I am uncomfortable with my behavior. Yes, we all have moments when we’re impatient, annoyed, or frustrated, but dwelling on everything we think is wrong with our lives is an invitation to unhappiness. You have more power to change your mood than you give yourself credit for, and at some point you have to step back and realize that some people have it much, much worse. Some people aren’t so privileged that they can gripe about their Wifi conking out.

So, to counteract the wave of negativity that has seeped into my life, I’d like to start a complaint cleanse. No eye-rolling. No huffing and puffing. Yes, it’s difficult to find a parking spot at the crowded mall, but I get to celebrate the holidays with my friends and family. I have gained a little weight, but I can walk, run, jump, kick, and squat, and I’m generally healthy. My thighs are worth a personal Armageddon.

When I feel I’m about to strangle someone, I will breathe deeply, count to ten, and smile, even for a moment. I will be grateful. I will not let silly little annoyances like kids running around a store make me bitter, even if it would behoove their parents to chastise them.

And if I must kick myself (gently, with purpose and love) from time to time for a rogue squawk, I will be a much more joyful person. My happiness, after all, is worth it in the end.