I don’t know much about life. As a matter of fact, not a whole lot of us do. We just so happen to be wrong about things – a lot of the time. I’m not even sure if we’re ever 100% “right” about anything.
One thing I think I know is this: I have a LOT of questions, and oftentimes, my personal answers come out as word vomit onto a screen or paper when there’s a means of expressing myself through language.
One more thing I’m pretty sure of: I consider myself a strong, happy, gentle, vulnerable human being. I find genuine joy in the human experience, and have just recently realized that although I have many interests, I really want to share and express myself so others can maybe feel the way I do. This will be my outlet.
With that in mind, here’s a list of five things I want to tell the world about. Last year was a big learning curve for me, the same way every year is.
1. Leading a happy, fulfilling life is NOT problem-less.
Life isn’t a glittering, glamorous, joyful experience all the time – difficult things happen. Poor people have problems, wealthy people have problems. Healthy people have them, and so do unhealthy people. The problems are different, of course, for different types of people – but we all have problems. Life is one big story, and what would a story be without conflict?
There’s an upside to this, though. Without problems, there can be no growth. Sure, maybe growth isn’t a big deal to some people, and that’s fine (after all, we are free to choose our ideals and our purpose), but growth is a key factor in leading a happy life if you ask me. Being better than the person you were yesterday (smarter, kinder, more understanding, etc) is rewarding and fulfilling, and the only way to learn and grow and be better, is to be faced with problems and challenges. The key is to find some problems that you enjoy solving.
2. There is strength in vulnerability.
Generally, as a society, we tend to associate strength with one’s ability to shove things under the carpet and pretend they never happened, only crying behind closed doors and smiling and saying “Great!” when people ask how they’re doing. The real strength lies in the moments you let yourself settle into a mourning without letting it consume you, or in little moments of trust, when you tell someone a thing you’ve never told anyone. Strength is facing how you feel or what you think, and not being afraid to express it or have it challenged (or changed, if a differing perspective insists upon you).
3. Society’s perception of success is warped.
I was raised in a poor family. Not “we-don’t-have-a-roof-over-our-heads” poor, but poor enough that there were many weeks we went to the soup kitchen for the week’s groceries.
When I was young, my dad and I spent many nights watching the spiders make their webs in doorways of closed businesses, and I don’t believe he felt less than successful. Of course, he didn’t feel rich. Neither did I. We weren’t out on the town at the movie theater or in a hotel by a beach… But there was laughter and joy, and those were the things he impressed upon me. Not wealth, but health. Not money, but fun. Not things, but experiences.
I’m happier than most of the people I know who are chasing money – and at this point in my life, I do feel as though I’ve succeeded so far – despite my (current) financial situation. So don’t let society’s money-hungry tendencies get you down… That’s really not what it’s all about.
4. Happiness is nebulous and extremely difficult to compare person to person.
The key to building great friendships and relationships is discovering how others define it. Before you judge a person’s state of well-being or joy, seek out what it is that makes them happy.
Some people are “happy” being miserable (one of life’s great paradoxes).
Some people are happy beings liars and cheats and thieves, or criminals, or abusers.
Some are happy just being their darling selves, walking barefoot, listening to tunes with people they love.
Since happiness comes to people in many different forms and definitions, it’s hard to say “man, I’m WAY happier than he/she is.” There’s no universal happiness spectrum that we all fall on, because it’s a truly difficult thing to measure.
What we CAN do is ask where people derive happiness from – which can help us forge friendships with people who share similar values, or differing ones that we admire, etc. This creates a greater understanding between two people with opposing views and builds bonds and connections between sharers of the same views – not to mention, it might help you understand others a lil’ bit better.
5. Life is a great big paradox and that, in itself, is worth exploring.
You can be gentle but strong. You can be honest but kind. You can find humor in things that aren’t funny. You can be happy while being miserable. Everything you learn is probably wrong. Your perspective may be right to you but not to others. Your perspective could one day even become wrong to you.
So explore, and think, and wander, and live and let be. Life is short, and while we’re here, we should explore.
Let’s s’plore it s’more this year!
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash