The first time I watched The Happy Movie was last July, and I remember being most struck by the co-housing community living arrangements in Denmark. I really loved the idea of a support network for families, with the added benefits of living more sustainably as well. The second time around, I find myself thinking about the concept of simplicity and how it relates to happiness. It’s difficult to live simply just because of the nature of our society, but maybe we would be better off without as many material possessions; instead what if we invested our money in experience?
The past couple of years I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking about what it means to be happy, and how I define my own happiness — at the end of the day it really is how you personally define being happy. I’ve found that I feel most content and at peace when I try to live according to the following four ideas:
1. Become a human. By this, I mean invest in and spend time developing yourself. Become a true individual. Inward reflection is important, and learning what you enjoy and what you don’t, and all the while taking care of yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically are a natural outcome of the reflection process. Find activities you like to do, learn how to spend time with yourself, learn to like who you are when alone. Realize all the little complexities about yourself and define and redefine your likes, dislikes, interests, passions, purpose, etc. Never stop asking yourself questions.
2. Find where your joy meets the world’s deep need. I’ll admit, I stole this from my roommate last year, Charlotte. I like this because it acknowledges the importance of the individual while placing it in the greater context of the world. Find where you fit.
3. Be Kind. This is kind of a no-brainer. You get back what you give. If you’re making a conscious effort to pump good things into the world, it’ll come back around. It’s also important to remember that everyone else is just as complex and as weird and as human as you are. If you don’t like someone, or are constantly annoyed by someone, or don’t respect someone, remember that all of those things are your problem, not theirs. Get over it, let it go, and stop wasting time on all of that negative energy.
4. Give the best away. This goes back to the first idea, “Become a human.” Develop yourself, make stuff, create, fill yourself up, invest time in yourself…but then the most important thing you can do is give it away. Once you’ve figured out how to be a human, you can fill yourself back up again. Most things get better when shared – happiness expands when shared.
I know I’m just a 21 year old, very privileged college student, and that I am probably the smallest fish in all the ponds. My relative significance in this world is not any larger than any. But these four things help me stay happy, content, and at peace.