A Happy Life is a Life Well Lived
Start writing a post
Community

A Happy Life is a Life Well Lived

What I learned the Summer of 2017

75
A Happy Life is a Life Well Lived

I remember summers growing up used to just go by. With no school there was usually a lot of laying around the house, swimming, and that is about all I remember of daily life. Maybe an occasional summer camp here or there, or a family trip, but all I can say for sure is that I took advantage of the time to relax. Come the end of my junior year, I was ready for something new. About a day or two into summer, I decided I wanted to challenge myself. While it is not your typical challenge, I challenged myself to start a journal. This journals purpose was to record what I did each and everyday. My idea behind this was that it would force me to step out of my comfort zone. I would be pushed to see people, try new things, and really reflect.

So at the end of each day, I would take out my pen and journal, write the date, and then ramble on about everything I had done that day. The people I saw, places I went, memories I made; nothing was too small to mention. Besides pushing myself to make the most of each day, I noticed that I was happier. I woke up each morning eager for what the day held. I made it my goal to "seize the day" each and every day. I was surrounded by people who brought out the best in me, and was constantly laughing. Making the conscious choice to reflect on everything I did each day forced me to realize how much there is to be grateful for in life. Now, years later, I still occasionally look back to relive the memories and read through how my summer went. From wild adventures to birthdays to BBQs out back I can look back and remember how special each day was.

I have never known anyone to do this before, so this concept was completely and entirely in my hands. I wanted to record memories to look back on and see. Most days I simply listed what I did that day rather than writing sentences. Even though it was rather to the point, I now have a record of my entire summer 2017. While I was on my mission trip that summer I sat on my bed each night writing what I did that day, what I saw, who we helped, and I was anything but shameful when people inquired about what I was doing. I loved sharing the concept with others, in hopes that they would try it out and have a similar experience. I learned through this that to be happy is to be whole. Not every moment of everyday is happy. But everyday has its happy moments. It is on us to find those moments and truly value them. In everyday life, we so often are too busy, stressed, or overwhelmed to realize the beauty of the world around us, and the gift it is to be alive. To take just 5 minutes a day to write down your highlights or even your struggles- it allows you to watch your progression, and see what is bringing you happiness and what might be holding you back.

When summer came to an end and it was time to jump back into academic mode, more specifically senior year, I knew I had something to share. The college essay and application process in general is a daunting task for many. I brainstormed topics and ideas, but struggled to find one that felt authentic, that is, until I began writing about my summer. Such a simple yet so transformative thing to write about. What to many is just a break from school, to me became a period of growth and realization. I traveled, volunteered, attended conferences, worked, spent time with family and friends, and overall that summer I found my happiness, and a version of myself that I hope to never lose.

While we are entering the dark months of Winter, I felt this was essential to share. This simple task of taking note of daily activities and dedicating time to reflecting on your day makes you more self aware, and might increase your gratitude as it did mine. It is important to take care of ourselves, especially in such an isolating time as now.


Below is my college essay that I wrote on this topic for anyone who is interested:)


An Unforgettable Summer

Now I know this may sound silly, or cliche, but summer 2017 has been the most memorable summer yet. High school can be a slump sometimes. Full of occasional drama, and frequent stress, it's easy to get caught up in the craziness, and lose track of what's important. This summer, something changed. After having a busy junior year, and not finding myself where I wished to be, I decided to take a break from all the stress and focus on myself for a change. I made myself a promise that this would be a summer of happiness; of good friends, of laughter, and of memories that would last a lifetime. In order to follow through with this and hold myself accountable, I dug up an old journal that had been collecting dust in my drawer, and vowed to write in it about what I did every single day. This way I had to go out of my comfort zone, get out of the house more, and make the most of my summer; and so this is where the story begins. I documented everything. The spontaneous trips to Boston, the movie nights, the people I spent my time with, the early mornings and late nights. Immediately, I began to notice how happy I was. My mind was at ease, my heart was full of gratitude, my days full of adventures and the people who bring out the best in me.

I spent a week in New York, on Lake George, volunteering and partaking in a mission trip through my church. I didn't have my phone, but I was able to capture moments just like a phone could, in my journal, for me to look back on, not for my followers or "friends" to judge and like. I had real conversations with people rather than through my phone, and my relationships grew to become stronger than ever. After a week of worshiping God, working with kids, doing yard work, and bonding, we were all exhausted. But there was no break, it was time to move onto the next task: bible camp. It's by far the best week of the summer. My two best friends and I spent months planning and expanding this summer program at our church, St John's the Evangelist. It was another week of early mornings, but it was gratifying to see all of our hard work pay off with all 90 campers and 60 counselors singing, dancing, and their never ending supply of energy and smiles. Each day after camp, once the kids went home, our day wasn't over yet. We spent time together being spontaneous, laughing, and creating memories. Right after camp ended, I hopped in a car and headed off to UMass Lowell for my third steubenville conference, where I was able to sing my heart out worshiping God, learn about his endless love, and do it all with some of my favorite people. The next couple of weeks I babysat most mornings, spent time with friends, both new and old, and made the most of each day. Eventually, I took a big step in flying alone for the first time to Indiana University for a Best buddies conference; full of new people and new ideas that I was eager to bring back to our chapter this year. I traveled all over with friends and family, from the Cape, to Myrtle beach, each morning brought a new adventure.

After each day, whether it be filled volunteering, working, or spending time with the people I love, I was full of happiness, which is all I could ever ask for. I have no regrets about my busy schedule or how I filled it. I learned a lot about myself this summer, and taught myself a lot too, but the most important thing I learned is, a happy life is a life well lived.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

1182395

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

745409
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

755035
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

487216
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

300356
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

438999

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.

296158

Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

199425
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments