THE HAPPINESS PROJECT (Finding joy in late July)

Lately, I have made a point to be happy. I think people make a “point” to do that all the time, I know I always have, but lately for whatever reason for me it’s been working and instead of just making a point to be happy, I really truly have been. I wouldn’t say I am where I want to be exactly or that I have my dream job (or even really like my job all that much). But hey at least I have a job, and have a lot of other good things people take for granted. I have close friends I care about and all my family members are healthy for the most part, I have the dumb little material things too like a working cell phone and a car and more than enough cute clothes etc. More than anything, I have happiness. And have made a point to maintain that happiness regardless of how much more change, growth, learning, and work I need to encounter in the very near future (as if I’m not already encountering all of that right now). I have been so successful with that choice that people have noticed. Someone I know randomly messaged me on snap chat one day saying I was a bumble of positively or sunshine or some other combination of those words and someone else said “I wish I could be as positive and happy as you all of the time”. A lady at work even said “You never have anything bad to say do you? Sometimes things suck and you can say so, you know that?” (I do).

Well tonight things do seem to suck and I did say something. The suckines was probably long over due but it still, for lack of a better word, sucked. I am sick of summer and tired of my job. I’m over the heat and over my favorite people being 1-28748 hours away. Done with sleeping on my parent’s couches, having no space to myself or any sort of privacy, and having to miss my favorite place in the world. I feel like this every summer and this summer I was doing the best job yet at focusing on the good and the moment and taking it day by day and staying motivated and positive. The less I’ve been trying to wish my days away the quicker they seem to go. July is still my least favorite month of the year but it didn’t drag quite as bad as usual and I honestly am surprised it’s almost over already. The whole summer almost is (35 more days, but who’s counting). Just as things slowed down and felt like they were about to drag these past couple weeks I used that (The 35 Day Countdown To The End Of City Heat Pizza Serving Summer And Return Of Beach House Book Reading Best Friends Bars and the Boy who’s not quite my boyfriend) to help me power through and motivate me that all of this would be worth it when I was walking to the beach, beer in hand, with some of the best people I have ever met for the next 9 beautiful months. Then I realized 35 days is short and got all excited and then suddenly so sad and scared.

I realized I don’t have classes for the semester yet. My tuition isn’t paid from the spring semester still and it’s looking like I am essentially screwed, after I was told over and over again not to worry about it and that it would all be worked out by now. I wish I could tell that lady at work about how much it sucked and about all the bad things I had to say now. But at this point, with potentially not getting to go back to college at all I could have the rest of my life working at the pizza place to tell her that (that’s a joke, I would never let that happen, but felt like a real possibility in that exact moment). So I ranted to my boy who’s not quite my boyfriend about all of it and about how I would not be remotely ok if I couldn’t get back to school and my best friends and the beach and my own bed and bedroom in RI after this last month of perpetually sweating and serving pizzas. I would be especially “not ok” if I had to stay in either of my parents houses come the fall and continue that job and missing everyone I love etc. etc. etc. I realize people have much bigger problems than all of that but it just hit me and made my heart sink a lot and I don’t know, it felt like my whole life plan was slipping out of my hands and there was nothing I could do about it and I just felt for the first time in months that I had a right to not be head over heals happy about it all.

I  was not ok and was not going to be ok and saying all of that out loud, like it was all a sincere possibility, was so heartbreaking that I started to cry before it was all even out. I just sat there and sobbed in a way I hadn’t in so long (since I made this huge point to be happy a few months ago) and it felt so GOOD. And for the first time in a while my circumstances turned for the worst and I can not say I was happy about it, I’m still not, and why should I be? Maybe I was only so happy because good things were happening.

I had a good cry and the boy who’s not quite my boyfriend was really understanding and I came inside and sat at my computer after we hung up to rant about it all but that’s just not what happened. I sat down and started thinking about what I was going to write and already felt better. My circumstances didn’t change and I wouldn’t say I’m outright happy, or even making a point to be. But I realized I have something bigger in me than any good or bad circumstance combined. At the end of the day all of your plans, people, possessions are temporary and could be changed or gone in a second and all you truly have is yourself. I realized the reason I can smile straight through the last hour of a sucky work shift, appear to be positive through tough situations and not sit hear crying all night about my tuition possibly not being paid on time and possibly not getting back to school because I still have unconditional joy within myself.

Happiness depends on things that happen, it depends on circumstances. There is not a circumstance that can take joy away from you, not completely at least, once you find joy you always have it. You can do all things in joy. You don’t have to be “happy” working your job to do your work in joy and to smile through it and treat people pleasantly. You don’t have to be “happy” searching for loans and cosigners and figuring out stressful financial situations, but you can remain hopeful and positive that things will work out and trust that you will be ok (whether they do work out or not). All you have to be is full of self sustained joy.

Joy is what makes you smile when you’re tired and smile through stress and joy is refusing to let any circumstance make you negative miserable and bitter, even when your whole world is upset. It’s the only reason I’m not sulking in a corner and crying for the remainder of summer, all anxious and stressed about what the next 6 months will bring. It’s the reason I’m working hard with a smile on my face, figuring things out, and being joyful regardless of anything besides the sake of being joyful. So instead of making a point to be happy when things are working in your favor, make a point to be joyful no matter what. Laugh at things and don’t let them get to you. Collect so much unconditional love and joy within yourself that even if you lost everything else, every tangible and temporary thing in this life, you would still be able to smile and be ok. That’s how I’m going to be ok at least.

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