Most people would hope that when they first entered the world they were surrounded by the overwhelming love and doting attention of both of their darling parents who wanted nothing more than their baby to live in a safe, happy home. More often than not, the upbringing of many individuals can be hindered through incredibly difficult physical and emotional experiences by being faced with hurdles that would be difficult even for ‘experienced’ adults to face. As the child of parents who divorced when I was young, I have faced many struggles that I didn’t think I could overcome, even as someone living a pleasant existence otherwise. Although I have never had to worry about where my next meal would come from or where I would sleep at night, I grew up to face many personal struggles that shaped who I am today. Although I may have been hurt in the past, my trials and triumphs have given me the knowledge and experience necessary to better tackle my uncertain future and anything that stands in my way. There were several years that went by where I was clueless as to what I wanted to do with my future, but I have found a great deal of discipline to discover the most promising potential career field for me. As a full time student I have dedicated myself to school for the first time ever which has allowed my grade point average to increase dramatically and I have been able to focus on my assignments. Despite not being able to contribute to bills, I know that while I am furthering my education I have been setting myself up for more opportunities to be able to help myself and others in the future. I may not be able to make much of a difference now, but every choice I make in the right direction is another step towards a better me and future for everyone around me. I have found that when I put my best foot forward I am better able to encourage the success of others around me, which in turn helps promote the ideal of a better sense of self for all.
Finding self confidence in knowing that someday I will be able to make a difference is daunting when the end goal is so far away, but I have decided that should not make my efforts any less important or appreciated. Continually pushing yourself to be a better person can be tiring, so I can understand why so many people are willing to quit, but giving up entirely on seeking a better life for yourself means giving up on allowing yourself to find happiness. There are too many people who live their day to day routine without acknowledging their own worth, whether they allow themselves to be used or abused and subsequently avoid partaking in the joys of their daily life. If you happen to be an accountant who loves to oil paint it would be difficult to find the time to paint everyday, but that should not prevent you from enjoying the rest of the time you have between the times you are able to paint. As you notice your choices, it can be so easy to improve and enjoy little things in everything you do, such as dancing while you brush your teeth, or taking that extra block around to be able to pet that cute puppy. If you are able to set yourself up for small daily incentives or dynamic activities that are certain to boost your mood and switch up your standard routine, you are sure to get the most out of your otherwise seemingly wasted time. I feel that many people go day to day expecting to have a good time appear any day and do not realize that this happiness and excitement is incredibly unachievable and unsustainable when you are anticipating an outside source to supply it for you. Although many people would like to be able to rely on another individual to help maintain their quality of life, it is an important task and skill that all people can struggle to adapt to by themselves. The ability for someone to greet each day with a smile on their face can most certainly be attributed to a few minor actions they complete make each day different from the last and worth while.
For those of us that are looking to turn our frowns upside down, the simplest method that I have found is to make an active effort to start my day everyday. For anyone who has been living under a rock, taking care of yourself is incredibly important to maintain a healthy and happy you. I try to wake up with purpose and consider all of the things I will try to accomplish or partake in, considering how I will go about my motions. My best days are started when I have had a full night’s rest with a full day ahead of me, and I wake up with plenty of time to goof around as I get ready. I know that on less successful days I can be fairly lazy and avoid taking care of my business, going days without cleaning up my home or myself. Living in an untidy home and avoiding personal hygiene regiments are detrimental to my happiness, because I feel like when I am slacking, the rest of my life slows down and I cease to find importance in my motions. My face can break out easily if I am not washing it at least daily so when my face is starting to show unwanted blemishes, I know that I have not been giving my skin the attention and care it deserves. When I tend to my personal hygiene, I try to make a conscious effort to maintain a healthy skin, which in turn helps me feel better about my appearance as I do not have to worry about hiding pimples. When I pick up around the house, I generally go from room to room putting things away and then picking up my next item to take back to its rightful place and rinse and repeat. When I can look around to admire my tidy home and feel at peace, I can easily leave to start my day knowing that I will have a comfortable space to return to. As wonderful as having a clean home to live in is, there are many other stressors that are not as easy to address which can lead to discomfort for the most level headed individuals.
There is a great deal of self criticism that we all deal with from ourselves that very few people feel comfortable sharing about, let alone accepting. Finding a common middle ground with yourself is a great first step to gaining and maintaining control of your emotions by allowing yourself to feel as you desire. For example, in a relationship, if I see that my significant other is talking a lot with someone who might make me jealous, I will share my feelings with my partner and see how they respond accordingly. I have found that if someone is quick to react harshly to a tough topic or expressed concern about their well being, it is near impossible to make a meaningful connection with them. People who are so ready to avoid their feelings and the feelings of others choose to cause a rift in the necessary trust and communication framework in a scenario where a meaningful connection could have flourished. While not all of the people you meet will have been through your experience, or felt the same ways, our experiences and interactions make us human and we share more than you might think. We are able to connect and reconnect with people over so many things whether it is a shared love for sports or a similar traumatic childhood experience. Humans are incredibly intricate and complicated emotional beings and no matter how hard you try to deny your truth or sadness, these are all troubles we tend to face on a daily basis. Our human connections make us vulnerable, but we can strengthen our flaws by connecting with others to look beyond our sadness by finding a common understanding.
Although it is irresponsible to rely on human connections to maintain your happiness, it is essential to have and maintain a strong bond with someone else (or with several other people) so you can maintain a comfortable connection outside of yourself. Having the ability to allow someone to know you and what’s in your baggage will help you appreciate things you never knew existed. I have found that the more honest I am about things, the better I feel, especially when my thoughts and feelings concern others or things that might be affecting me. While sharing my thoughts and feelings to others might potentially hinder a relationship we share, I know that I am at least being true to myself and what I want out of my life experience. I used to try to please other people more often than I would consider my own happiness, but I have learned that no matter how hard you try, it is impossible to make everyone happy all the time. The only person whose happiness I have real control over is my own, and while this sounds cliche, I am the best person at making myself happy. I know what my favorite foods, places, tv shows, clothes, hobbies, and people are to surround and involve myself with in order to put a smile on my face. There is no ‘cure all’ for any of the depression or sadness that I may feel, but I have several things that I know to try when things don’t seem to be going my way. I have stopped hanging out with certain people and opened up to many more by allowing myself to do, say, and feel exactly what I want and think is right. I have chosen to listen to my heart and anticipate what the intentions are of others to better align myself with the best future. Not all of my time is spent happily, but I feel that sadness and anger are important to feel too and I know that I owe it to myself to feel the emotions that my head and heart agree on.
My personal goal that I maintain through all of the interactions I have is to leave the person feeling better than when we first got together. Keeping an open mind allows you to connect with people that you might otherwise never have the opportunity to talk to, in turn making your experiences fresh and meaningful. Once you are able to understand that we are all just trying to find our own way, it becomes easier to sympathize with someone else who is facing personal and external struggles too. It is easy to lose sight of your own happiness when you are focusing on all of the negative things in your life, as I understand it is easy to get caught up in when everything seems doomed. The best advice that I can give is to make change when change is due, and not because someone tells you to, but because it makes you happy. What the world needs now is the selfishness of people who put their hearts out to get stomped on when they should be protecting themselves from the harshness around them. The world can be cruel, but there are many good people who surround us that are disguised as strangers that could turn into your future best friend. Sharing happiness can bring happiness back to you even when you are just paying someone a compliment at a bus stop, there is no act of kindness that is too small. Sharing your positivity with the world around you can make waves in the otherwise calm routines of zombie people that are content being miserable. Try to mix up your day by taking a different route to work, or maybe you wear that shirt in your closet that you really like, but never wear because you’re embarrassed. The mundane routines of a sad person can easily be enhanced with a little self confidence and a shifted world view that allows you to have the best view no matter where you find yourself. No one should have to wake up feeling that they are going to have an awful day or that everyone is out to get them because everyone is dealt a different hand and we can’t all be winners everytime. If you feel that there is nothing good in the world I recommend trying to make some new friends by entering a new scenario, or maybe buy yourself that thing you’ve been wanting. The most important takeaway lesson should be to listen to yourself and spending your time maintaining your personal hygiene, home, and happiness can make a huge difference when you take the responsibility. You deserve to have the best day, but no one is going to be able to make it happen for you. I hope you are able to hit that alarm button with a smile on your face because you know that you are going to make today yours!
Pictures by: Brittany Hammis