I have been thinking about happiness lately. It’s been buzzing around in my head as something I want to talk about, and yet it’s a little hard to get started. It’s a big topic. I suppose my question to readers is this: what makes you happy? What are some surefire things you would do to get happy? (Go on, comment, you know you want to!)
A certain key to happiness is finding time. I need to find the time not only to enjoy things, but also to reflect, a change to center and focus It’s key to both having those happy experiences and having the time to process what it means to me. This can be done in a number of ways, and often my journaling is the result of just this kind of reflection. Domy noted that I don’t seem to talk about my daily life here. True. Daily life is something I save for chit chat, whereas this is my place to step back and reflect or examine things more closely.
Happiness, to me, is found through balance. Too much of anything usually makes me unhappy, though I might ignore it at first (usually because I’m having such a good time). Constantly spending time with people makes me feel crowded and not-myself. Spending lots of time alone can also drive me straight up a wall. Happiness is that balance, spending time interacting with others where it’s long enough to feel substantive, yet not so long that I’m wanting to strangle the person I’m with.
This balance extends to everything: no group should be too big because then it doesn’t really feel like I make any real connection. I try not to organize any enormous function unless I know each person well. Moderation is really the key to keeping emotions on an even keel. Spontanaity is certainly a motto of mine, but often I find that I do have to reign myself in on overdoing anything, because overdoing it is usually not a very healthy thing, either physically or emotionally.
Happiness comes in breeching my own walls to go out into the great beyond and see something new. Finding an out of the way art gallery, going to some new museum installation are things that can bring such joy. I usually try to go alone because few people have the patience to mosey and look in silence like I do. I love it. I feel very at home getting myself lost in places like the Shanghai Museum or Boston’s MFA.
So, if I’m not happy then I should know what I need to do, right? Not necessarily. Sometimes bad moods descend and just hang out, sometimes I want to be in a bad mood. Again, moderation comes into play, and most folks I know who really seem happy all the time also seem psychotic. Still, there are things that I try to do to cheer me up and I know bring that fulfilling contentment that is the breeding ground for happiness:
- I go out with folks and play stupid games.
- I hole up at home and blast the stereo.
- I make myself go sing somewhere.
- I try to connect with someone. I chat with my friends online.
- I sleep. (yes, it sounds bizarre, but sometimes it’s a challenge for me, and accomplishing that makes me happy)
- I paint.
- I play with the cat.
- I go for tea, but here that’s like going to watch a wonderful formal ceremony.
I will have to make tea for everyone when I go home, because it’s that interesting.
- I try to do something stupid/impulsive, or set a challenge to myself and complete it. I play headgames with myself exponentially more than I do with other folks. Simple things like “do I want to go to a movie? If, when I get down the stairs of the subway, the timer to the next train is an EVEN number, then I’ll go see a movie.” (this was the other day) It was even. I went to see troy. I had to fight with the stupid ticket guy in Chinese to get 1 ticket, not 2. Afterwards I felt good that I’d gone by myself, and I felt good that I left the house and followed through with doing something.
- I go out, sit at someplace for all I can drink bubble tea (yum!) and write. Those are the times when I accomplish the most.
- I go to a jazz bar, hide in a corner under the light of the bar and sketch my heart out. Look at everything I’ve made in May… that’s pretty much where that all came from.
- When I lived in my last house, I used to jump on the bed. Acting 5 can make me feel wonderful. This was also a great stress relieving activity in college for me. Just a good springy bed, and jumping. Makes the whole world seem… conquerable. Of course… now there is a sum total of 3 feet above my bed, so standing is a challenge, nevermind jumping. Maybe that’s why I’ve been in a funk this year.
- I pull out the bass, hook up the amp, and make myself play along with whatever I’m listening to, no matter what it takes to figure it out. I usually only remember the song for a day or so, because I don’t keep it up, but again, there’s that sense of conquering that makes me feel good.
- At home… I’d go out to the reserve. Here, there are a few parks I can go to and chill. Grass and trees make me feel sane, and eventually happy, but they’re very missing in this city… or at least too rare.
- On the other hand… new China developed passion: flying kites. I know, sounds stupid. Let me tell ya… here there are 60+ year old guys that are amazing with their kites, and those things are out there… like… what looks like a good mile of line… you can’t even see the kite anymore. It’s a skill that I’ve learned a tiny bit about from being respectful and asking the guys about (they seem to think I’m pretty funny and amusing and a goofy foreigner but with enough respect to deserve talking to). Flying a kite is quite therapeutic, and it takes some work and skill to get good at it.
- Speaking of parks… going and sitting in one of said parks and watching kids, or watching a parent with their kid. I try to be detatched and watch what’s before me… kinda with my drawing eyes rather than “person bruised by life” eyes, and I find the emotion going between the two to be really beautiful to watch, and that makes me happy. Course, it could backfire if they got in a fight… but here the parks are crowded enough that i can always find someone happy to watch.
- I plan my site, I work on a picture, I read a book, I write. Those are the ones I do everyday. If I don’t, I feel like crap. A lot of my writing of late is being squirreled away for my webcomic, but it’s still there, it’s still being produced.
Happiness is multifaceted, to be sure. I am not so sure I am keen on increasing the overall euphoria in my life, but making sure I stay relatively contented in a field of study where I am constantly frustrated by current running norms is important. I think part of what keeps me well grounded through thick and thin is that I have an idea where I can go to find my personal contentment.