Recently, a friend asked me what makes me happy. After a long period of thinking, I replied with something along the lines of "watching people talk about their passions, giving a really good present, when my friends laugh, making playlists, when people need me, driving with the windows down, and my best friends." When I asked my friend why she wanted to know, she said there was no particular reason.
I thought back to the previous weekend. The definition of a "good night" for young adults today usually calls for drinking, smoking, doing drugs, otherwise breaking the law, or some combination of these. Occurrences from my weekend with friends featured a dishearteningly low number of the things I listed as catalysts to my happiness. The speed at which children grow up accelerates with each new batch. Kids begin to date, wear makeup, receive unlimited access to electronics, drink and smoke at ages outrageously lower than those of their elders. Due to this acceleration, Millennials seem to have forgotten how to conduct a simple movie night or sober day out.
This intrigued me. The aforementioned question sparked a fire in my mind, illuminating memories of all the little things in life that bring me joy. Living too fast too young has completely warped the way we interact with one another. I passed the question on to a number of peers with varying interests and personalities. When asked what makes them happy, I collected answers such as " love, swimming, small gestures, people, winning, driving, certain places, dogs, tight hugs, performing, sunshine, a really good cup of coffee, ripping the tag off of clothes, books, new lipstick," and infinite other things.
Out of roughly 30 people surveyed, only two identified drugs/alcohol. Irritation stirred inside me as I wondered why and how mind-altering substances earned such a large part in the daily lives of high school and college students, when said substances appear so sparsely on lists of what makes them happy. Drinking and smoking provides a platform for artificial happiness, allowing the consumer to temporarily escape reality. Millennials nationwide accept this easy and instant gratification rather than working towards lasting happiness by investing time and energy into things that deliver genuine contentment.
You might be thinking that none of the examples mentioned above bring you happiness, or that you don't know what makes you happy. The challenge here is not to isolate yourself from everything other than your personal list of little things that make you smile. No, the challenge lies in expanding this list for as long as you live, looking for additions with each new day. Never stop wondering. Never stop asking questions. Never stop chasing happiness; it could be hiding anywhere.