Please read the foreword to this before continuing reading. If you have already read the foreword then why are you still reading this? Look down dammit.
Doing the right thing isn’t necessarily what makes you happy.
It’s a concept that’s been drilled into my head and I live by it, the first half of it anyways.
So the concept of: ‘Happiness one of the most important thing in the world’ didn’t quite hit me until the following happened.
I quit school a while back, 4 months away from graduation. Most people called me crazy and can’t wrap their head around my thinking. I don’t blame them. I was, not to brag (but as with all hypocrites, I am anyways) , an above average student, in Student Council for 5 years, secretary for 3, top two subjects almost every year and I almost always ranked in class. Why would someone like that just suddenly quit school, right?
Well, I’ll say that my school has its own trouble, but since I’m the only one who left and everyone else continued to persevere, I suppose that’s just a ‘push factor’. Yes I plan to going to college, yes I want a decent paying job and yes I will in my own way, graduate high school, preferably within the same year. I would like to think that I am level-headed enough to not just throw away my future on a whim, and I’m blessed with a mother who understands my hardships and weird thinking.
I’ve had a rough year: dramatic break up, bumps in family life and a demoralizing environment; your usual teenage drama, but nothing to facilitate, I dare say, dropping out of school. Yet it is the combination of all these small things and years upon years of ‘doing the right thing’ that set things into motion. Pulling late-nights, having painful reminisces, forcing myself to do what makes other people happy, surviving the day just to wait for the following day to arrive, it made me wonder, ‘What the hell am I living for?’
Between drastically losing weight, suffering from insomnia and nursing heartache, my body or mind, whichever figured that at the rate I was going, I would be a gone case, decided that should all causes be lost, I ought to live for happiness.
I’m not preaching you to do the wrong things that’ll make you happy, but if you have the choice between the ‘logical right thing to do’ and the ‘less conventional happy thing to do’, do yourself a favor and choose the latter. Actually at this juncture I want to introduce a cute concept I ‘stole’ from geography, called ‘sustainable development’ and rename it ‘sustainable happiness’. To define it very academically, it means: Happiness that will not compromise your future self’s ability to attain happiness.
To give you an example: drug is not sustainable happiness. You do drugs now, you’re happy now but your future self will be and drug addict destined to become poor, caught for smuggling drugs, go to jail/sentenced to death and or forced into painful rehabilitation, which in short, means you have compromised your future self’s ability to attain happiness.
After conceiving this concept, I applied my own situation to it and suddenly, didn’t feel so stressed or guilty anymore.
Since I’m not planning on NOT going to college, merely taking a different route, per say, foundation courses, my future self will still go to college, still get a degree, still get a job and ultimately still be able to attain happiness. My unconventional decision makes me happy and my future self will still be happy, if so, why do I have to make myself unhappy just to fit into social norms?
When you think about it, letting the flippant comments of others rule our lives is quite pointless. They say what they want, but we are the ones we get affected and hung up over it while they continue with their lives happily. Why should I keep myself in a self-damaging situation just to live up to the words of others that don’t even affect them? Logically speaking, it really doesn’t make sense.
So I advocate, value your (sustainable) happiness above all.
Though, please don’t use my words as an excuse to not work hard or party your life away. This probably sounds preachy and like what your parents would say but, even I have to grudgingly admit, they have a point. If persevering through something arduous would bring your life greater joy in the future, unless you won’t survive, bear with it. You will thank your past self, like I have over and over again, for putting up with the agony to bring you contentment now.
This musing really goes out to all the perfectionists, over-achievers and all those who place others before themselves and always aim to do the ‘right thing’ but not what makes them happy. Your happiness is what’s most important. I can relate that if someone you care about is happy you are happy too, but if your happiness doesn’t bring them happiness or god forbid, affect them at all, then they’re not worth your sacrifice or effort. Because you always give up your happiness for others, you deserve more than anyone else to be happy.
There seems to be this moral barricade between happy and right. Whatever is right won’t make you happy and vice versa. That’s just miserable old men who want others to suffer like they do. What is all the money and power in the world if you’re not even happy? I’m not saying you should be poor and happy, though if you can’t help it, being positive all the way is definitely the best way to go. Won’t it be totally awesome however, if you could be happy AND successful? I’ve just seen too many successful people who aren’t happy. They are not happy, their family isn’t happy; I mean, the story of Scrooge doesn’t exist just for our Christmas leisure you know!
I suppose you will ask me why is happiness so important. Well, you can say that doing the ‘right’ thing gives you a sense of achievement and sometimes doing what makes you happy doesn’t. For example, flirting with someone who’s not your boyfriend makes you happy but it isn’t really ‘right’. But seeing as all scientists generally agree that when you’re happy you’re more motivated, you’re healthier, you’ve got more energy and you’re more likely to attract positive people, what’s wrong with being happy? Chances are if you’re happy, all the ‘right’ things you need to do will be done with better effects. You definitely produce a better piece of work when you’re happy, when you help others with things, they’ll be happier about it if you’re happy when you do it; overall, it makes the world happier and god knows the world could be a happier place. Being happy isn’t ‘wrong’ and we should honestly stop associating the two together. Drugs, killing, raping, getting assed drunk and doing stupid shit isn’t being happy, it’s called being high. I apologize if modern people enjoy associating crazy shit with happiness that has led to the new ‘happy-phobia’; so misconceptions aside, there really isn’t ANYTHING wrong with being happy.
‘Sustainable happiness’: happiness of your present self that does not compromise the ability of your future self to attain happiness.
Because really, if at the end of a long, wealthy, successful but painful and miserable life, you don’t even have happy memories to bring to your grave, you’ve really not done yourself any justice.
I won’t say don’t worry, but definitely, be happy.