In one of my classes this week, we had to talk about what makes us happy. It was a writing exercise, five minutes of writing about what brings us pleasure. It could be anything we came up with, as long as we were writing honestly and openly for the full five minutes. And as I was writing, I overthought it and didn't write down as much as I normally write in five minutes. I decided to try the exercise again by myself, without the pressures of possibly reading my list out loud to a room full of the near strangers my classmates are. And I was surprised to find just the sheer amount of things that were on that list.
But the biggest surprise was that a lot of things on that list were small things, the odd little things that I don't even really think about normally but came to the surface during this exercise.
That got me thinking. About how, in those times when life just seems really hard and heavy, when it feels like you're stuck in a blizzard and can't see three feet in front of you, and the snow is blowing hard and harsh against your skin until you can't feel your cheeks - those are the times in life when we need to remember those things that make us happy.
We also need to remember those things that we find beautiful. There are a lot of ugly things happening recently, and maybe you even have some personal things that are ugly and hard to handle. Maybe try and think about the things you find beautiful, or the things that bring you pleasure.
And it can be the simplest thing. Not everything that makes us happy or that we find beautiful needs to be big and significant. For example, getting into the school or that new job brings happiness, yeah, but so does a really good cup of tea. Natural wonders like the Grand Canyon or Niagra Falls are absolutely, breathtakingly gorgeous, but so is the new sprout on a succulent plant. Celebrate getting that new job with your best friends, but also appreciate that feeling in your stomach after a good, long laugh. Marvel at beautiful paintings by well known artists, but also notice how the light shines in someone's eyes.
That's another really good point. You need to appreciate the happiness and beauty in other people. People are so full of joy and loveliness just waiting to be noticed. I'm sure, if you thought hard enough, you would be able to find the little reasons why your friends make you as happy as they do. I'm sure, if you looked hard enough, you would be able to find even the smallest thing about someone that makes them beautiful to you (I tend to look at the eyes. They're fascinating and colorful and just utterly gorgeous. Eyes are the best.)
So maybe next time you feel overwhelmed by the sadness, anger, pain, and ugliness in the world, take five minutes to write uninhibited about the beautiful things in life that make you happy. Write about the way the streetlights dance on the walls of your room, or the time you spent hours just talking to your friend late into the night. Write about whatever makes you the happiest person you can be.
And then keep looking. Keep finding. Keep seeing things for the beauty and happiness that you know are there.