What have you done for your happiness today? This is a question that is not often answered easily. If you ask someone what they have done today to combat how tired they are, they could easily answer with, “I got a venti mocha with 3 espresso shots and took a nap,” (or something of the kind). Happiness is not often addressed as something that needs to be monitored and treated as a function of the body. However, it is one of the most important things to pay attention to in your body. The state of your happiness affects your entire psyche just as much as stress does. It is a feeling that can change your entire day, affecting how you do in school and work and the state of your relationships.
The study of happiness is currently a blossoming field in psychology, with more and more people joining the search to find what makes life worth living. Researchers figured, if you can discover what makes people depressed, why can’t you research what makes people happy? This new field called positive psychology focuses on the strengths and positive aspects of human beings and what they can do to emphasize these positive traits. Studies of large groups of people from a wide variety of demographics have led to some pretty informative results. There have been movements inspired by these findings to educate the public on tactics to increase their happiness. People don’t usually worry about the state of their happiness on a day-to-day basis, and that is something that needs to change. If people can understand what makes them feel good and what doesn’t, they can work on increasing happiness-inducing activities and reduce the ones that make them unhappy. It is an important part of understanding who you are. If you know what makes you happy and what makes you sad, you can really get a grasp on what it means to be YOU.
There is a wonderful documentary on Netflix called “Happy” by the award-winning director Roko Belic that explores this topic of happiness and what makes people feel good all around the world. One of the most important lessons that can be learned from this documentary is that it is so important to make time each day to do activities that make you happy. Activities that completely capture your attention, engage your mind and let you forget about everything else are called flow. Flow can be art, religion, sports, exercise, reading, writing, even cooking, basically anything that you love to do that makes you forget about the world around you and all of the things that you are worried about. Flow exemplifies the phrase, “to lose yourself.” We forget as we go through our routines each day to make time for activities like these that we really, deeply enjoy; that make us who we are.
College students are, in my opinion, the worst at managing their happiness during stressful times. During these incredibly busy few weeks where the waves of midterms never seem to stop rolling our way, it can be extremely difficult to remember to take time for yourself. The commitments and deadlines for school seem to build up and your social life can begin to falter as well. It is so hard to go from class, to class, to work, to the library, to class again, home to make food and clean, gym perhaps (if you have time) and then more homework. Sometimes you barely have time to see any of your friends during the week. This is a time where you have to learn to make sacrifices regarding with whom you spend your time, and to make the limited free time you have count.
On stressful days when you get your chem midterm back with a D or you get into a fight with your roommate, it can be hard to appreciate the beautiful things in life that are occurring all around you. Sometimes the world can seem as if it is solely working against you and your problems are the center of the universe. It is so important to take a step back and appreciate small, good things that happen in your day. Maybe it is that you noticed a tree on campus whose leaves have actually changed into fall colors, or how nice the weather is outside or how you finally didn’t burn your dinner. These things can seem small, but when you take notice of them, you begin to realize that one day can’t be all bad. You have more control over your own feelings than you think. Remember that your state of mind is a decision. Choose to be happy.
Katherine Anderson would choose a happy mindset over a $4.00 mocha any day.