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How romanticizing your life can make you happier

Recently, the Korean acronym, ‘소.확.행. (so-hwak-haeng)’ has been popular on my social media feed. The full form of this acronym roughly translates to ‘a small yet certain happiness’. I found out that this originated from 小確幸 (しょうかっこう, sho-kakko), first coined by Haruki Murakami in his novel “Afternoon in the Islets of Langerhans”. His exact quote was:

“Without this kind of small yet certain happiness, life is but a desert in drought.”

– Haruki Murakami

I love this phrase. It teaches us to appreciate the small, often overlooked things in life that bring us joy. Things like a cup of warm coffee, the breeze on your cheek, or getting to the train station just as the train pulls in. 

Those are just some examples of romanticizing your life, where you consciously inject aspects of drama and fun into seemingly mundane life events, creating your own desired aesthetic out of basic activities to look forward to. It means being proud and content with your life and making the most of what you have.

On TikTok, you’ll see many people telling you to romanticize your life. Here’s one trend that asks users to sync 27 random videos on their phones, and watch how it changes their perspectives on life. You might think that these people are just wishful thinkers trying to ignore the harsh realities of society. But focusing on the good in your life may be better for you than the cynics might think. 

Here are 3 reasons for you to romanticize your life and incorporate it into your daily thoughts.

1. It gives you independence and control over your own life

We live in a society that dictates our time and energy. Whether it’s work, school or other commitments, we dedicate most of our lives to something besides ourselves. This is how capitalism works: you trade your time and energy in exchange for income, which enables you to purchase necessities and commodities. 

Even if you enjoy your work or course of study, it’s not healthy for your entire life’s purpose to be focused towards societal contribution. If and when things go awry, you’ll find yourself spiralling into a state of hopelessness.

By romanticizing the things in your own life, which are independent of the institutions you work for, you’ll be able to own the time and energy you spend focusing on those things. The joy that these things bring you, however small, will not be replaced by anything else. This allows you to retain a sense of constancy and control even when the real world turns topsy-turvy. 

2. You won’t be so tightly bound by expectations from yourself and others

Romanticizing means a shift of mindset. When you romanticize your life, you start to take care of yourself more. You no longer think of your hobbies as time consuming, but as fruitful time spent on self care. 

When pursuing hobbies, you also won’t feel  pressured to do everything perfectly, but appreciate what you can do in your capacity. You’ll recognize that these hobbies are purely for your own enjoyment, and that holding yourself to rigid expectations takes away the joy from these activities.

Instead of ruminating about your commitments and other anxieties in life, romanticizing your life helps you take comfort in the small things, especially those in your daily routine that calm you down and make you feel happy. This does wonders for your mental health and helps you take pride in what you do rather than strive to be perfect in everything.

Think about some hobbies that you used to love but now don’t do as much. Did you stop because you felt a need to be perfect at what you do? Instead of fretting about whether you can complete your tasks perfectly, try to focus on the process rather than the outcome. Slowly rediscover your passions and take comfort in the fact that you don’t have to strive to be the best — as the saying goes: anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.

3. It helps you be more mindful and appreciative

By romanticizing your life, you’re more likely to take time to slow down, live in the moment and be present. You’ll be able to appreciate the smaller things in life, and your mindset will gradually shift from pessimistic to optimistic.

This change in mindset reflects in your interactions with others — you become less focused on people’s flaws but rather on their strengths instead. This makes your interactions with others a lot more pleasant, and you’ll find that your own self-confidence increases when you focus on other people’s strengths.

Look through your daily routine and find moments that you enjoy and appreciate them more. Do you stop for a coffee run every morning? During your trip to the drink stall or coffee shop, stop and appreciate the smell in the air, the sounds of the coffee machine and the tart taste of a cup of coffee. If you go out for a walk, run or cycle, appreciate the scenery as you go along, and don’t be afraid to wave at the strangers walking past.

Your life’s a movie, and you’re the main character. But all movies come to an end. While the film is still playing, we want to be fully absorbed in it and enjoy it to the fullest. Similarly, perhaps we should live in a way that lets us appreciate every scene and character in our lives, down to the smallest details, so that we too can enjoy life to the fullest.

Joanne Lim

Nanyang Tech '24

Joanne likes romanticising the small things in life, like coffee and sunshine. She also likes saving good reaction memes for a rainy day.
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