Saturday, March 5, 2016

64. On other people's plans for happiness

Last night, I went and saw the movie "Brooklyn." I expected the movie to be cute and charming, like a typical film festival winner, but I walked away from it mulling over one aspect of the movie: other people's expectations for your happiness.

(I think the difference between a good movie and a great one is how you feel at the end of it. Do you forget about it right away? Or does some little part of it stick with you.)

The movie is about a young girl who emigrates from Ireland to Brooklyn, New York. She struggles at first, but eventually finds a job and love. Circumstances bring her back to Ireland and there's an unspoken assumption that she's come home to stay. Without spoiling much more, that's not in her plans.

That's what got me about this movie. Everyone in her hometown just expected her to stick around, work at a local company, marry an Irishman, and make her life back home. She'd forget about all that America nonsense and come back "home."

One essential truth I have learned over the past few years is that you have to make yourself happy before you make others happy. If you do not do that, you will be resentful.

I’m very lucky that I have had a family that has supported things I’ve wanted to do. Whether that was moving to the east coast, or grad school, or traveling in different places, my parents have supported me in my pursuits. They have not placed their expectations of what constitutes happiness for me. I’m thankful for that. (Conversely, they do their own thing for their happiness and I applaud them for that.)

How have I been able to hone in on my own happiness over the past few years? I think it first begins with not giving a crap what other people think of you. Let me rephrase that, there are probably a half-dozen people in your world whose opinions on yourself should matter to you. Your immediate family, your close friends, and maybe a mentor or two. But that’s about it and those circumstances can change.

But you shouldn’t care what most everyone on the internet thinks of you. I spent a long time worrying that I didn’t have the “in a relationship” status marked on Facebook. And now I couldn’t care less about that.

I think the other part involves listening to yourself. What is the thing in your life that you can do that makes time pass by quickly? For me, that’s writing. I’m glad I’ve been able to carry that into my job and now my daily routine with blogging. Not every day is perfect, but when I am able to hit that sweet spot where I get my message from my brain into words, it’s awesome.

The “do what makes you happy” is kind of a cliche, but it’s important. You don’t need to be miserable in order to be happy. Suffering just leads to suffering unless you do something about it. Make your own choices, don’t give a crap, and find your passion.

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