One Year of Happiness

Apr 27, 2014 by

          “Give up on unpacking your room?” my mom asked this morning, noticing that I was putting my jacket on.

          “Well –“ I started with an explanation ready. “Yes,” I answered simply with a smile.

          She laughed, remembering how badly I wanted to let myself out of the house yesterday but couldn’t. My procrastination had run its course. Yesterday marked 55 days since I moved into my parents’ house. It was beyond time to unpack, resulting in a self-inflicted Saturday night in. I’m still not done setting up my bedroom, but I made good progress.

          “Today’s my happiness anniversary, so ef it,” I excitedly said. “I’m out of here!” I felt imprisoned after yesterday’s full day at home.

          “Wasn’t your happiness anniversary a few weeks ago?” she asked.

          “No, the beginning of March was the anniversary of when I began living The Happiness Experiment, the mentality. The end of March was the anniversary of when I began writing The Happiness Experiment, but not the anniversary of when I launched the blog; that’s in July. Today is the one-year anniversary of the day I actually became happy,” I explained in my typical overly detailed way.

          She laughed again, reminding me of something she said to me a month ago: “You always find a reason to celebrate.” I smiled to myself at the thought of how far I’ve come. On this day last year, I was crying to the point of near hyperventilation because I didn’t want to go out. Today, I thought I was going to suffocate if I didn’t leave home ASAP. My how things change when you make them.

          “Okay, peeps, I’m out!” I said to my mom and dad. “#freedom!” I declared (I told you I speak aloud in hashtags, friends) before closing the door behind me, and practically skipping toward my car.

 

***

 

Do not be fooled by this single cupcake. There were five others. #tooambitious. I made my way through four. I def feel sick. Note to self: Next time, go for the minis.



Do not be fooled by this single cupcake. There were five others. #tooambitious. I made my way through four. I def feel sick. Note to self: Next time, go for the minis.

          Like when I celebrated my one-year anniversary of The Happiness Experiment, I wanted to celebrate my one-year anniversary of happiness in one of my happy places. Niagara would have been the most appropriate, given that’s where I was one year ago today, but I wanted to do something different/I have a work thing in Etobicoke tonight (they had me at free apps) so I didn’t want to venture too far. I decided on celebrating with cupcakes by the water in Port Credit, one of my fav places to escape to. I love it there. Sitting by that water reminds me that I’m just a drive away from breathing in a sense of something out of my ordinary.

          It’s gorgeous outside today, but the sun is deceptive. It’s that kind of weather that allows you to drive jacketless with the windows down, but requires a scarf and gloves (which I refuse to put on) as soon as you step outside. Thus, my plan to write by the water was X-ed in the time it took me to consume three cupcakes (no time at all). I could only pretend to myself that I wasn’t cold for so long. I have retreated to my warm car, where I’m still in one of my happy places, except now it feels like summer. #problemsolving

          In writing about my one-year happiness anniversary, I’m a little conflicted. I don’t want the fact that I can distinguish the day I became happy to send the message that happiness happens overnight. I had been working toward it leading up to April 27, 2013. By this day last year, happiness was almost a couple months in the making. Had I not already been determined to make myself happy, I would not have been in Niagara one year ago today.

          Having said that, I can pinpoint my transition from unhappy to happy to one night. I went from barely living to inconceivably happy on this day last year, and happiness has persisted since because of one important realization that came from it: happiness is not externally sourced. Though the external factors of the evening – the place, the people, the elevator – contributed, I became consistently happy because of the understanding that those things gave me: the reminder that I am capable of connecting with other people, and the awareness that it was because of my own actions that I had reached the blissful state I had arrived at – the realization that I made myself happy. With that, I was unstoppable. Once I knew that I could create the circumstances to ensure my own happiness, I would continue to do so.

          Once you choose to make happiness a priority, it can be yours faster than you may think. Shortly before Niagara, I noted that I did not know what my future would entail. Although I was adamant about becoming happy, I felt hopelessly scared and lost in writing that. I wrote it to encourage myself to keep going for happiness. I wasn’t sure that it would come, but my will to live depended on aiming for it. I had no idea then that I was less than two weeks away from a level of happiness so high that I can’t recall a comparable feeling in the 23 years before it. Best of all, the feeling would last. Before today, I have never in my life been able to say that I’ve been steadily happy for an entire year.

          I assure you that does not mean I have lived a year without lows. Rather, it means I was able to successfully cope with my lows in order to maintain my happiness. The Happiness Experiment is about showing the reality of happiness. Happiness is not a permanent high; it’s successfully adjusting to whatever gets thrown at you. When life is being a bitch, I don’t sit down and take it anymore. I either change my perspective or change my situation. Most importantly, I laugh. I recognize that shitty circumstances make for excellent stories, and I laugh. Everything hurts less when you laugh.

          To every single person who was a part of that night in Niagara one year ago, thank you. That night saved my life. I was dying inside before it. To one-year-ago Maria, thank you above all. You successfully self-pep-talked yourself out the door despite tears, social anxiety, and fear, putting yourself in a situation to enable happiness. Finally, to alcohol, thank you too. You certainly did me good, friend.

Happiness Tip: Grab the Bacardi, and get your ass out the door.

 
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