I had always thought the harder I worked the happier I would become. Why? Well because I was taught that once you achieve success, happiness will soon follow. However, I have now realized that I was setting myself up for failure by allowing myself to feed into this mentality.

Every time I achieved a particular goal, I would immediately have another one already set. If happiness and fulfillment were at the end of success, then I could never get there. It was as though there was a door at the end of the hallway and no matter how fast I ran I could never reach it. It was always just out of reach. I knew what lay on the other side, yet for some reason, I never let myself have it.

There is a notion that joy in life needs to be earned. There is a notion that you can measure happiness based on achievement. There is a notion that without being the best you cannot be fulfilled. How is this a healthy mindset? The answer is —it is not.

What I learned, much too late in my opinion, is that it is okay to pat yourself on the back and tell yourself you did well. It is okay to congratulate yourself on the significant feats as well as the minor ones. Sometimes I wake up in the morning, my body aches, my head feels heavy, all I want to do is go back to bed. I still get up and go to class. Though that may seem minuscule to some, I believe that I have just had my first success of the day. Getting out of bed in the morning can be the first achievement of the day, and there are times when it is the only one. However, it is still important to tell yourself that you have already made a positive and proactive choice to start your day. Every night I write down three things that occurred during the day for which I am grateful. It allows me to have a positive mindset throughout the day and causes me to look for the little moments that let a smile cross my face.

Of course, there are harder days every so often. There are times when you have nothing but an endless stream of them. It is vital to remember that you should let yourself laugh. You are allowed to feel joy still. At least that is what I have learned.