Day 101

Friday, June 12, 2015

[the one where I try to summarize the past hundred days.]

| Day 101 |

"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy."

It's crazy to think about one hundred days as a measurement. It isn't divisible by seven, so you could say x many weeks (it's 14.28 [or 14 weeks + 2 days], in case you were wondering). It's also hard to think about happiness as something concrete or tangible. I mean, everyone knows what it feels like to be happy, but sometimes it's just so hard to explain. I started this blog with the intention of expanding on the 140 characters I was allotted in my tweets, but have found that it wasn't necessary for every single day. As I come to the end of this "challenge," I think that that realization came as a result of learning that happiness doesn't have to be monumental. Sometimes happiness is a smile, an honest conversation, or something as simple as feeling sunshine on your skin (a cliche that this challenge required me to challenge). You see, as I went through the pictures I've been posting on our Twitter, I found pictures of friends, rain, food (lots of those, and I'm not ashamed), and other things that might seem relatively insignificant. There were times that an interaction with a boy would make me happy (none of those went on Twitter, because that could be awkward). There were times of ~~celebration~~ that cannot even be put into words. There were times when the weather would make me happy; when finishing a paper or a project gave me a sense of relief; when natural lighting or the underestimated beauty of nature would leave me awestruck.
artisan dinner [sweet potato fries + favorite people not pictured]

Whatcha know about natural lighting?
Even though I had to miss a semester of fribee, I will be back in the fall: that much is non-negotiable.

Life is funny, in that just this week I finished Aldous Huxley's novel, Brave New World. For those of you who don't know, it's basically about a dystopian society in which people are encouraged to indulge their pleasures (and are even shunned when they do not), and have never had to work too hard for anything that they wanted. In the novel's falling action, John, a young boy who has been raised on a "savage reservation," away from this "civilized" pandering society, discusses the notion of happiness with the World Controller of Eastern Europe, the epitome of a powerful person in this civilization.

Mustafa Mond, the World Controller, explains that a permanently-placated populace serves the New World State because it makes for a more stable society. "'Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand.'" John, on the other hand, can appreciate the beauty that arises from overcoming conflict  even if it is uncomfortable, unstable, and insecure. "I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin." In this way, Huxley shows not only that happiness is a choice, but also that there is happiness in the freedom to choose goodness.

I think that when I came into this, I was expecting to be a happier person at the end of it. I don't know that that's necessarily the case. Not that I'm not happy now, it's just that I think I was pretty happy before. This challenge has inspired me to take more pictures, have more adventures, and appreciate the intangible things when I couldn't do either of the other two. I used to think that happiness came from the idea of freedom –freedom from work, freedom from studying, etc– but I have also found that happiness comes with a sense of accomplishment and progress, from pictures of the ones I love (either with me or from home), from creating and discovering new things. What I ultimately found is that happiness is the acknowledgement of the sheer thought of feeling alive, much like the experience that Huxley's Savage explains. It's taking a pause to stop and say that there is something significant about the way we interact in our world as well as with it. This challenge helped me to see the beauty that some people add to my life, while simultaneously showing me who does not. I've come to the conclusion that happiness is a choice. And that sometimes it may not be the most practical option. For example, it is okay to be sad. This goes back to the notion of feeling alive: "crying is not a sign of weakness; from birth it has been a sign that you are alive."
So blessed that I get to live with this gem next year.
Forever grateful for you. Not emotionally prepared for you to leave for abroad.
As I went through this process I also thought about the bombardment of images that exist in surplus in this country. The internet has facilitated a flow and interchange of information and pictures and censorial overload. In an age where Twitter hashtags help create unity for a cause, it is so powerful to find one that celebrates joy. That is not to dismiss the power of hashtags for social change, but I think that this challenge is a social change: the more people on board, the more we can spread the power of joy. The power of believing that happiness is a choice. In making this choice there must be the implied notion of spreading this joy in the same vehicles we would spread other thoughts and values: and that is the power of this challenge. Not only does the challenge create change in the individual participating, but also in all of those who follow the project. It is a way of shaping the inputs on social media platforms to realize the good in the world.
Together is my favorite place to be.

According to 100 Happy Day's website, 71% of people who start the challenge failed because they "didn't have enough time." To reiterate: happiness is a choice, so make it a priority. I guess the only thing I have left to say is, can you, and will you, take on this challenge?  

Happily yours,


And just like that, the sun set on the hundredth day.

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