A few days ago I had one of the most pleasant experiences in my life. I camped by a beach in north California with my family and it was absolutely wonderful. Watching the sunset fall on the ocean with an array of different colors filled me with warmth and a passion for life. I felt at peace hearing the roaring ocean and crashing waves. Feeling that cool ocean breeze hit my face completely invigorated me and got me thinking about life.
I began to question why it has been so difficult for me to be happy with myself and with my life. I was sitting on the sand facing the ocean watching the sunset as my mind raced with different possibilities that could possibly answer my questions, but none of them seemed right. The wonderful moment I was living began to fade into the background as the stress of my question took my attention. I felt my face begin to contort into my “worried face”.
I looked to my right and saw my younger sister sitting calmly next to me. She was completely engulfed in the moment. I sat there looking at her for a while, wondering what she was thinking about, while I was stressing myself out with this question. I finally stopped trying to figure it out and asked her. Apparently she was thinking about nothing. She was simply watching the sunset and enjoying the moment. I thought about that for a second. Why couldn’t I do that? Why do I always have to be thinking about heavy questions even when I am on vacation immersed in beautiful scenery?
I decided to take a walk along the beach after the sun had set to try and sort things out. I could barely make out anything anymore because it was getting dark. It was absolutely mesmerizing to walk along the seashore on my own. The wind began to pick up and the waves began to crash even louder. I could no longer focus on my thoughts, so I decided to give in to my temporary lack of attention and ground myself back in the moment. I focused on the sound of the waves and how exhilarating it felt to be walking under the moonlight. The weight from the stress of the questions lifted and I began to smile again and enjoy the moment. For the rest of the night, I had an absolutely amazing time.
When I got back from my trip I resumed the task of trying to find answers. What I realized is that I am constantly stressing myself out over questions that do not need to be answered right now. I am wondering about how I can live a happy life, but I never stop to think about what would make me happy now ( a much more reasonable question to ask). I am always thinking about happiness as though it is some distant destination that wont be able to be reached until I do a, b and c. I reminded myself that there are always going to be things that could be better and goals that I will want to be reached. If I know this to be true than how could I logically think that happiness will ever be a possibility for me?
I decided that what I need to do is to focus on what will make me happy now. Why should I overwhelm myself with questions so far into the future? I tend to feel anxious about the future and spend hours trying to plan and figure everything out which is not only entirely useless but also deeply dissatisfying. It does me no good to lose track of the present because I am too busy planning for an uncertain future.
So I have decided to turn my questions about happiness into something much more manageable from now on. Instead of asking what I have to do to live a happy life, I decided to bring it down a notch and start asking what will make me happy today. Begin to keep it simple and in the present.
Today, I decided that completing one of my homework assignments and taking a nap with my dog curled up by my feet would do the trick and so I did. Later on today, I plan on watching a movie with my sisters because that always brings me joy. So far, I have had an amazing day. I have been in the moment and I feel a relief from not having to answer such a huge silly question.
The truth is that I don’t know what will make me happy in the future. What is the point of even trying to figure that out now? Maybe if I continue to focus on what will make me happy in the present, I will end up living a happy life instead of spending it searching for something that was always there, waiting to be unearthed.