What would you do to be happy? Sometimes we set aside our happiness just to make it through the everyday. It’s not that we don’t want to be happy, because who doesn’t want that? It’s more that we overlook our own happiness for the greater good of some other thing. We get stuck in relationships we don’t want to be in for the greater good of love and the fear of being lonely or never being liked again. We work jobs we don’t really care about for the paycheck, health insurance, and employee discounts. We make it to a point in our lives where we feel stuck, trapped, thinking that anything else must be better than this, not even realizing how we ever got stuck here in the first place.
When I was a kid, like 8 years old max, my family briefly lived in Texas and I would always go exploring. Texas was so different from New York City and I found everything fascinating. Sky! Flat land! Red ants! I’d never seen these things being a New York City kid. There was a field by our house that had those super tall electrical towers on them. I’d never seen anything like that, and they were so interesting to me. I thought it would be the greatest idea in the world to try to climb one of them for no reason in particular except perhaps to prove that I could do it. Though they fascinated me to think about, I never actually climbed the tower because, like, safety. But until this day it has been a metaphor for me about pursuing things in life that you really want to do, things that make you happy. For me, interesting things, experiences, and people are still the top things that make me happy.
There are different kinds of happiness. Orgasms make people happy. When a student tells me that he got accepted into a top graduate program, that makes me happy. When I think about how my grandmother calls potpourri “poppa-touri,” that makes me happy.
But I want us to think about happiness as self-love. It’s when you smile with your eyes. It’s when you come home for dinner and your boyfriend or girlfriend made your favorite meal. Happiness is when you’ve been scoping the city and the Internet for those Jeffrey Campbell’s in a size nine and everybody’s sold out. But then, finally, you find a pair — AND THEY’RE ON SALE! Happiness is when you notice that something is going wrong in your life and instead of letting it fester and focusing on the negative, you take charge and do something dramatic to change paths. When you make a change from being unhappy to doing something that makes you burst with glee, happiness is looking in the rearview mirror at your past self and being thankful that you’re not that person anymore.
We are afraid of happiness. Everybody wants to be happy, but having that kind of pleasure frightens us. It’s too liberating, not orderly enough. That’s why we tell ourselves that we’ll get to whatever it is that makes us happy, eventually. But when is that going to be?
You shouldn’t wait to be happy because you owe it to yourself to be your best self. You shouldn’t wait to be happy because nobody can make you happy but you. Life is sort of pointless, I mean except for sample sales and Magnolia cupcakes. You shouldn’t wait to be happy because what are you waiting for? Tomorrow may never come.