a happiness exercise


Happy Spring! It’s time for flowers, and bunnies, and renewal of attitudes and outlooks. In celebration, this month, I am posing a few questions to myself. Why do I spend so much time thinking about things I don’t like? What would happen if I spent more time thinking about things I do like? What is so comforting about dwelling in feelings of unhappiness and envy and that thing where you see a picture of a friend on the beach and seethe with rage because you neither have paid time off nor money to travel? Sound like you? Even just a little? Let’s explore.


I saw this meme (I think it’s a meme—I don’t really know the definition of “meme”) and very much related to it. I can easily spend an hour fact checking a stranger’s stupid fucking tweet about how “George Soros is funding the migrant caravan” for the sole purpose of being outraged. I often find myself three years deep into a frenemy’s IG for the umpteenth time, reveling in the grammatical errors or problematic captions, before someone asks me what I’m doing and I put my phone away in shame. Sometimes I find myself plotting revenge against the kid that stole my gel pens in 5thgrade and auctioned them off to the bullies in my class. All normal stuff, right? Except that none of these things are particularly happiness inducing. I asked myself, “does being unhappy really bring me joy?“ My answer was, “I think so.” Okay, follow up question: “What if joy can be sparked by pure joy?”

What even makes me happy? As I ponder the answer, the graphic in the bottom left of this journal page is telling me to “Do What I Love” and that’s both comforting and makes me feel like a hypocrite. What do I love, even? I guess I love fighting with bigots, debunking conservative talking points, and reporting Facebook trolls. Ok, bitch. But what do you reallylove?  What brings you joy without the anger? Without the resentment? Without having to click the “Report for racism, sexism, homophobia, etc…” button online?

I love walking on the beach path across from my house before 7am, right before the sun is coming up and when the air is cool.

I love doing edgework on ice, when I’ve paid $7 for the early bird public session, and the rink is completely empty.

I love drawing cathartic comics about anxiety and gender expression, with the local news playing softly in the background.

I love hiking in forests, where the trees are tall and the sun peeks through as I listen to the “We Bought a Zoo” soundtrack in my earbuds.

I love listening to the West Side Story OST (most notably “Dance at the Gym” and “Cool”) and pretending that I’m a Jet gal, dancing and fighting my way through the streets.

As I write this, it becomes easier to think of things to add to the list, and I already feel more open to joy and calmness. I feel lighter, happier. It’s amazing what a difference  even a gentle shift in mindset can make—how simply thinking about things that bring you bliss can change your attitude. So, just imagine what actually doing the things that make you happy can do. Boy, when I get my ass off this couch, it’s over for y’all.

Whether you feel content, or think you’re in the “the only thing that brings me pleasure is hating my enemies” camp, or even a little of both, I ask you to consider this: What does your list look like? What is your idea of happiness? And can you put yourself in those situations more often (and maybe layoff the twitter fights)?




3 thoughts on “a happiness exercise

  1. Sounds like EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE. We just gotta thwart that which thwarts us. I’m so with you. Just reading this made me bouncy happy. More – More

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