The holiday season is always a time of reflection for me. As the year comes to an end with a month filled with celebrations and festivities I always find myself looking back on where I’ve been and thinking forward to where I want to go. And my mind always seems to ponder happiness. What is happiness? Everyone wants it. Everyone wants a happy life, happy relationship, and a job that makes you happy. But happiness can be hard. Life is full of stress, of hardship, and especially of comparisons. I think because of things like Twitter, Facebook, and even blogs, people are finding themselves comparing their lives to others and feel like they’re missing out. It’s easy to be sitting on your couch in your PJs enjoying a night with a good book or your favorite movie feeling pretty happy when you check out Facebook and see your friends partying it up on a yacht off the coast of Dubai (no, really!) or out at some fabulous restaurant all dolled up enjoying the night. It’s easy to wonder if you’re missing out, if they’re so much happier than you.
I always used to fall in the comparison trap. I haven’t had the most traditional of college experiences, transferring from my dream school to a school I previously didn’t even know existed after my freshman year. I looked at the Facebook statuses of my friends at Bucknell as they went abroad and dressed up for sorority formals and I felt like I wasn’t really experiencing college, that I was missing out. Even though I was happy, I felt like I wasn’t as happy as they were, living the life I wanted to be living.
And then I got an internship in Hawaii and spent the summer there. I lived the dream that summer, I did things I’ve always wanted to do, and I learned so much about myself. When I came home it was with a new perspective. Everyone is going to have amazing times in life, and everyone is going to have absolutely horrible times in life. What matters most is not the circumstances but the spirit with which you approach these circumstances. I realized that I lived the way I always wanted to live when I was in Hawaii, I approached life like it was an adventure, something to be explored. Just because I was back in PA didn’t mean I had to lose that spirit. Instead of spending time thinking about all the things I didn’t have I became mindful of the things I did have. Like a debt free education, and extra time to spend with my parents, and opportunities at Penn College I wouldn’t have had at Bucknell. Most important of all, I met Josh.
I jumped off a cliff in Hawaii. Talk about going out of my comfort zone.
Now that my friends and I are older a lot of the comparisons are less about sorority socials and more about relationships. I have friends who complain that their relationships have fallen into ruts, that they feel like the spark has gone out and if they just had money to take a fancy trip together or if they could go on exciting dates like they see everyone else doing everything would be better. This is an area where I am so happy Josh and I have never had problems and it’s because of the spirit with which we approach our relationship. Our texts are still as mushy as when we first started dating, and I still look forward to our date nights. I will never take our relationship for granted because I will never think of what we have as boring or ordinary. We may not have vacationed abroad or go on fabulous weekend getaways every weekend but we have an amazing life. We appreciate our date nights at home on the couch watching HGTV with a drink and some popcorn just as much as we do getting dressed up to go out for a fancy meal in a big city. Life isn’t all the big grand moments that social media sometimes leads us to believe it is, it’s the small, everyday moments in between.
As much as I love our engagement photos, we don’t look like this all the time. Well, at least I dont. ;p
The older I’ve gotten the more I’ve realized life really is what you make of it. If you feel lucky and happy, you will be. Never forget your spirit to approaching life as an adventure and a gift and you are going to live one exciting, happy life.
Question of the Day: What is one way you’ve used your spirit to turn a negative into a positive?