40 Little Things That Make Life Worth Living

40 Little Things That Make Life Worth Living

For the days when it feels like there aren't any.

This is for when you fail that test. For when you oversleep again and miss the test altogether. For when you don't get the job you wanted, even though you thought the interview went well. For when you spill coffee on your impeccably-ironed white blouse before the most important interview of your life. For when the person you love breaks your heart. For when you break your own.

Here are 40 little things that make life worth living, for the days when it feels like there aren't any.

1. Hugging your loved one so tight neither one of you can breathe.

2. Seeing couples reunite at the airport.

3. Taking the long route home just to listen to your favorite playlist for a little longer.

4. The smile someone gives you when you accidentally meet their gaze.

5. Black and white photos of your parents.

6. Lying in bed during a thunderstorm. Listening to the rain crash down on the windows. Feeling peace in the violent renewal.

7. Autumn leaves the color of Merlot, and sunlight, and your favorite dark lipstick.

8. First kisses. The lingering glances. The simmering curiosity. The delicate innocence of it all.

9. Laughing so hard your sides hurt.

10. The realization that you’re falling in love again.

11. The restoration of the belief that it’s possible to fall in love again.

12. The jolt in your chest when you think about them.

13. Fresh sheets.

14. Peonies in the spring.

15. The garden scene in Notting Hill.

16. Bonfires at the end of summer.

17. Sunsets.

18. Sunrises.

19. Cities that are so beautiful and beyond anything you ever imagined you feel the strange and sudden urge to cry.

20. Looking around at a concert and realizing that 80,000 strangers have felt the way you’ve felt.

21. Friendships that are bursts of positivity in your life.

22. Dancing until you’re sweating and your feet are aching and you’re feeling more alive than ever.

23. Going out to get breakfast in the middle of the night.

24. Coffee on a Saturday morning. The unhurried walk into the kitchen. The smell of French roast suffusing the room. The caffeine coursing through your veins.

25. Cozying up in front of the fireplace with a blanket, fuzzy socks, and a mug of hot chocolate (with extra marshmallows, always).

26. Burning a new candle.

27. Watching the clouds of your first winter breath hang in the air.

28. Laundry that’s still warm from the dryer.

29. Boys that smell like fresh laundry.

30. Boys whose laughs could cure all the heartache in the world.

31. People who laugh. A lot. Even when their heart aches.

32. Watching your favorite show while taking a bath and noticing how all the words adopt an otherworldly echo.

33. Opening up a new bottle of shampoo and letting the scent of sandalwood and vanilla permeate the space.

34. Opening up a bottle of your favorite wine.

35. Watching a scene in your favorite TV show that brings you so much joy you can’t contain yourself.

36. Watching a scene in your favorite TV show that shatters your heart.

37. Hearing a song that you feel with every fiber of your being.

38. The crispness of the air on the nights where you can see all the stars.

39. Text messages from unexpected people.

40. The kindness of strangers.

Simply wanting to live can be the most impossible goal sometimes. But we have to remember that even on the days when nothing seems to be going our way, there are always things in life that are beautiful. There are always things to anticipate and appreciate. There are always things to live for.

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The Ability To Accept Is A Form Of Self Care

And Society's Expectations Of Suffering

The way we live today, it is almost as if some sort of suffering is seen as obligatory.

What do I mean by that?

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Don't you feel that if you go through a break-up, for instance, that it is as if you're expected by society to grieve and suffer?

Or if you are rejected from a major career opportunity that you are expected to be sad and disappointed?

Or if you fall sick, you're expected to lament your fate and the stress-inducing consequences of not completing your work?

It is as if these responses are seen as normal and if you are to react otherwise, you're seen as strange or worse, insensitive.

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How could you not care?

After all, it is human to care. It is human to invest yourself so much into something - an outcome, an expectation, an ideal scenario - that the failure to obtain it, logically, must be met with a devastating outpouring of emotion. Otherwise, it is as if you simply didn't care enough!

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But is that really true?

Does my big emotional reaction to failure mean that I cared enough? Or is it merely an excuse not to work on ourselves to better learn to accept that which is thrown at us?

The ability to accept is integral to a happy life.

Why is it then that we find it strange if someone is able to accept their circumstances with the snap of a finger?

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Because it is difficult for most of us. We find it incredibly challenging to detach ourselves from the ensuing disappointments, feelings of injustice, anger, and resentment. We find ourselves easily lost in the fears that come along in an uncertain future.

Isn't that all the more reason, though, to learn the art of acceptance? Don't we all want to be free from the pain of disappointment, the stress of anger and the anxiety of fear?

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I say yes!

The person who is able to accept the circumstances around him, in fact, cares so much about the happenings of his life that he does not want to waste a single second in self-loathing, pity, grief or pain. He knows that those emotions will arise, but there is no reason to get lost in them.

They can exist but they do not have to stop him from moving on and continuing to live life to the fullest.

Cultivating the ability to accept is a form of self-care. It is knowing your human limitations, recognizing them and allowing yourself to be free from suffering. It is knowing when it is time to let go, to stop resisting the flow of the Universe and understanding the importance of capitalizing on every living and breathing moment.

It is understanding deeply that you shape and create your life with your thoughts and feelings and so choosing to accept and let go rather than resist and suffer in order to create a happier future.

So the next time you see someone not suffering as how you think they ought to based on the events of their life, don't judge them. In fact, perhaps admire the strength they have to continually choose to accept what happens to them rather than channel energy into suffering and choose to learn from their way of life to benefit your own.

Who knows, you may just be happier.

Cover Image Credit: Mathew Schwartz

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To Those Who Feel Everything So Strongly, Do Not Let Your Empathy Crush You

Empqthy and You

I’ve talked about a lot of things on this website, and ultimately, they all have one thing in common: they exhaust me. Every time I write an article or a journal entry or a homework assignment for one of my many classes which focus on human suffering and how to address it, I wind up completely burnt out. My emotions come at me from an alternate angle—as if they were not my own—and I just want to lie down somewhere and sleep. Problem is, sleep won’t fix that kind of tired.

You see, I’m not writing this article to commiserate about how hard it is to be black in America—or on Wake’s campus—or how hard it is to be broke in America—or on Wake’s campus. I’m writing this short little piece of me down to tell the people out there like me that it is okay to get tired. It is okay for you to back off all the save-the-world projects and save-your-friends projects sometimes. It is okay to go home and sleep like the dead for a week instead of going out and doing what other people think is fun. It is okay. But what isn’t okay is taking on all the problems you encounter at the expense of dealing with your own.

For those of you like me—those of you who feel everything so strongly that it seems every day has the potential to crush you—it is important to temper your own empathy. This isn’t to say that you need to lose some of it—lord knows I couldn’t get rid of any of the empathy in my heart if I tried—but you have to learn how to manage it. If that means completely unplugging from life over spring break, do so. If that means talking to a counselor once a week or once a day, do so.

If it means meditating or doing martial arts or reading, please do so, because the world needs you and your empathy more now than you could ever know. The world needs people like us, people who can’t look at the news and mean it when they say, “Whatever, people die every day.” The world needs compassionate teachers, doctors, food service workers and mail-carriers. The world needs more empathy, and it won’t have it if you let your empathy crush you.

Ultimately, this piece is for those of you who are beginning to wonder whether or not there is a point to trying to change anything. This is for those of you who are so tired that it doesn’t matter what you do, you remain that way. This is my acknowledgement—however little that may mean—that you are not alone with how you feel.

The weight of the problems you are trying to face are not yours alone, and you can shoulder the burden, but you must have help and you must make sure you maintain your own emotional, psychological, and physical strength to do so.

This world is fucked up in a million different ways—I won’t deny it, but without empathy and without compassion, we can’t do anything about it. Without you, we can’t do anything about it. So, as I said in a speech once: “It’s okay to lose hope sometimes, as long as you find it again,” because, without hope in the face of everything hurting the world, without those of us who are willing to understand, listen, and feel what others feel in order to address the problems we see, the world will die. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to be the one who lets that happen.

Cover Image Credit: Alexander Holt

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