Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What makes you happy?

I mean really. What makes a person happy? What causes that chemical/hormone to kick in to create a sense of elation or peace? Why does it go off and why is it different with each and every person? I know for me, it doesn't take too much to make me feel that superficial elation that makes you want to sigh out of pure happiness. Gazebos, old WWI and WWII airplanes, summertime, sprinklers, sandals, parks and playgrounds, the smell of rain and grass, going outside with out a jacket and still feeling warm. We all have these little quirks that give us a sense of happiness, but what makes us truly happy and joyful, and as one might say, successful? I've been thinking about this a lot lately because I spend all of my day doing nothing. I was trying to find a job, but that has been a most unsuccessful search, and now I sit around because there's nothing for me to do: no job, no homework, no social activities, no money; then by the end of the day I realize I did nothing worth my while. Nothing to call home about, nothing to write in my journal about or tell my grand kids one day. And by the end of that day, I don't feel too good. I don't feel like I've accomplished something to make my life worth living. So back to my initial question. What makes one happy? Is it the filling of meaningful activities? Relationships? A purpose?
And this is where my new friend, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, comes in. He is a pioneer in positive psychology, and creator of the term "flow." Flow is a state of concentration or absorption in an activity. Basically, you become completely absorbed in what you are doing; it's so simply natural, interesting, and fun for you that you forget everything else that is going on around you. I like to think that when you read a book you reach into flow because you become so absorbed in the story. Then again, it just might be good writing.
I get this idea from a book I am reading, Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., and John J. Ratey, M.D.. They talk about flow in their book because people with A.D.D. usually need an outlet to get the most of their talents and abilities. Because their book does have somewhat of a focus on children, they talk about finding an outlet for children, to try as many activities as they can so that they have a better chance to succeed. And this theory, I think, also works for adults. Give someone an outlet, and it will improve self-esteem, abilities all around the board, and will be just plain fun.
And why I bring this up, you may ask?
Because happiness is more than the smell of rain or gazebos, its finding a purpose to tie yourself to. It's more than just having fun, but the feeling that you belong to something more than just yourself. So as I sit around bored with nothing for me to do, I can try different activities, maybe with other people as well, to find my sense of flow. So maybe as I said before, I just need to open the gates and sieze the day.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

It all starts right here: my New Years resolution

So this is where I write down my thoughts at this time of beginnings. Looking on the past two years of my life, they've sucked. Not filled with much to give me heaping amounts of joy. 2007 I was trying to run away from myself, I wanted to reinvent who I was. I didn't to be painfully shy anymore, I wanted to stick out and be social. The next semester at school left me with some roommates who weren't really the best of influences and friends who didn't exactly encourage me to go in the right directions. A therapist and a bishop told me I slipped into a depression for about three to four months. I hated the idea of depression. My mom has had it since I was seven years old and denotes bad connotations in my mind. I also dated my best friend, maybe for the wrong reasons, but it helped me to have someone constant there for me through all the days I cried because I was so stressed. I barely scraped by by the end of 2007, dipping my G.P.A. to about a 2.7. I wanted to leave many friendships behind, I couldn't take it anymore. All I had left was one old roommate and my boyfriend. But that even came to an end at the very beginning of 2008 when he broke up with me, leaving me feeling all alone, so hurt by all the things that were told to me, so hurt that my best friend didn't want to be my best friend anymore. An entire 12 months (2007) spent in shallowness, selfishness, and just plain suckiness. 2008 was not much better. I couldn't eat for a couple of weeks, I cried every night for about a month, and every other night for the next two to three months. Although that experience was absolutely horrible, it has been so beneficial for me. Because of it I grew closer to my Savior, my testimony grew, and I became more open and outgoing than ever. I grew to learn that, when it came to judging me, nobody mattered, except my savior. When I went back to school for my fourth semester, I was still stressed, but I was more focused on improving school performance instead of improving me. Although I was more talkative and friendly, I sunk into myself. I didn't get involved with anything. I loved Jersey, my roommate, and everyone thought that it was that I put up with her, but it was the other way around. She lugged my sorry white bum to as many places as she could, but I wasn't ready for an attachment, it still hurt too much. Then I came back to school for this last semester (fall 2008) and I did a little more, but not much. I was trying to bring up my G.P.A. (still) and save up to go to my best friend's wedding in December. There were good experiences and bad experiences. But over all I could've been better at my calling. I could've been a better friend, roommate, visiting teacher, FHE mom, sister, daughter, tenant, student, daughter of God. I've grown so lazy. For those of you who have read the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (#2), I feel like Bridget, who because of heartaches, loss, and a past, tried to run away from her ghosts, and when they caught up with her knocked her to the ground. At that point she stopped moving and became a shadow of herself. She had stopped pushing herself, progressing, to gain her bearings. Then she was ready to move again, and she shed off all those layers, like shaking off the cocoon to get ready to fly away. This is the year I shed those layers. This is the year I resurrect myself, bust out bigger and better than ever before. And somewhat whole. Ready to face challenges with a glint in my eye saying, "Go ahead, try me. Make my day." For the past couple of years I've given myself a yearly slogan/theme song. In 2008 it was "Send Me On My Way" by Rusted Root, which is about getting though life, just making it through. This year I've mashed two together, things I got from Robin Williams and a group of singsongy boys trying to sell newspapers. And I suggest you think about it. On my list of New Year's resolutions the last thing I wrote was 
Take it one day at a time; make it meaningful and memorable.
Carpe Diem- open the gates and seize the day!
Seize this day that God has given you breath to live! It's a special gift, so do what you can to wrap it up and give it to someone else. Carpe diem my friends!