What ever it is, do it. In whatever capacity you can, big or small, whether it’s your career or your hobby, or an idea that just flickered into your mind. Do the thing that makes you happy.
Sometimes being happy is completely out of your control. Sometimes it’s a choice, a fight even. But it’s a fight that will always be worth fighting. And as humans in this big and beautiful world, I think we deserve it.
Doing the thing that makes you happy isn’t always easy, usually it’s the harder thing to do. In fact, the things that make us the happiest in life, a fulfilling job, a relationship, studying something you care about, those things are not often easy.
I thought for a long time that, “doing what makes you happy” meant having a job that you love. Something that you are crazy passionate about, and not settling for something that allows you to just exist. I really believed that. When people told me they didn’t really care so much about what their job would be in the future I couldn’t understand it. I felt like I had to impress upon them the importance of finding your “calling.”
But then I thought about it for a while, and I realized how lucky I am to be able to have that perspective, and I eventually came down off my high horse. Sometimes you can’t make what you love a career. Sometimes you have to work because there are bills to pay. Not everyone has the luxury of doing a job they care about.
And while I’m so thankful that I’ve had the chance to study things that excite and challenge me, and I have the promise of a new life here in a few months, I’ve had to face the reality of the fact that there must be other ways to be fulfilled.
I take a lot of pride in the things I do. I’m proud to have a degree in political science. I am proud to have been a language assistant, proud that I now have friends from all over the world, and that I was good at my job. I am proud of the life that I worked really really hard to build during university.
I am proud of those things, but the truth is that they are no longer my reality. They made me who I am now, but I cannot let my happiness be contingent upon my circumstances. I am more than a student or a teacher or someone who works in an office for a few months.
So what else is there? I know myself. I know that if I let those things that I am passionate about slip away, I will start to lose my way. Complacency and emptiness go hand in hand. I am glad that I am a person who thinks and feels things deeply, but that means that the hollowness which comes with being unfulfilled is equally as deep.
And at times it can be all-consuming. I know, I remember.
So how do you “do the thing that makes you happy” when it isn’t your work? I certainly don’t have the answer but I have some ideas.
Read. “And read… read all the time… read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect. Read as a nourishing staple of life.” (A quote by David McCullough, Jr. from my favorite speech of all time. Speaking of reading, read this if you have the time.)
Reading makes me happy. I realize it doesn’t for everyone, but I’m just biased enough to think that those people probably haven’t found their perfect book yet. For me reading is an escape. It’s education and travel and inspiration written in ink on pages that you can physically hold.
Learn. Maybe this is because I’m still very fresh out of university but I truly feel like learning is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Study something that interests you. For me it’s language. For some people its cooking or computers or history.
Listen to music that you love; new music that’s exciting and old music that sounds like a friend.
Call someone you love.
Drink good coffee.
Eat good food.
What ever it is that you need to do, do it. You are more than your circumstances. Find a way to fight for a life that you will be proud of. Do the thing that makes you happy.