Thursday, June 4, 2009

What makes you happy?

I've been thinking a lot about happiness lately. Let me explain. I have a pretty big family. I have a (nearly) 22 year old sister, a 19 year old brother, and two 8 year old (half) brothers. The two little ones are mainly interested in video games, legos, and their friends. Their greatest happiness is getting some ice cream or a new toy. It's funny that such simple things can make kids feel like they're on top of the world. For the older ones it gets a little tougher because life gets more complicated. My other brother is very similar to me. He's been out of high school for a couple years now, but he seems kind of stuck. On the one hand, he has very distinct likes, but on the other hand, I'm not sure if he quite knows the direction he wants to take in life or is meant to take in life.
"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned...
so as to have the life that is waiting for us."

--Joseph Campbell (via That Unreliable Girl)
{Images from: Ms. Muse and from my own personal collection.}

My family worries about him. I do too to a certain extent; however, I have different reasons for worrying. They worry that he won't find a way to completely care for himself and be independent. I worry because I'm afraid that he'll settle for something and realize that he's not happy doing that. I mean, maybe someone will be happy becoming a monk or working for a little candy shop, or becoming a surf instructor. None of those professions make a lot of money, and yet all the people who choose to do them seem a lot happier to me than the people who rely on money to satisfy them. Has anyone read The Alchemist? That book was so inspiring to me-- especially the idea of having a personal legend.

"Everyone has a treasure that is waiting just for him."
--The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
{Image from my personal collection. The ocean is my treasure.}

I think that sometimes people get so hung up on money and security that they don't realize that we don't really need all that much to get by. My family thinks I'm a little crazy for my thoughts, but I'm not saying that making money is a bad thing. It's not! We all need it to survive, but there has to be a balance between following your heart and following your head. If your only concern is making money and getting security, then what's the point? On the other hand, if you value your job and you feel satisfied in it from a personal perspective, then you'll not only be more fulfilled, but you'll probably be better at it. I recently read a really great interview with Sandra Bullock (of all people) who kind of stated my point. She said,

"I think most of us are raised with preconceived notions
of the choices we're supposed to make.

We waste so much time making decisions based on someone else's idea of our happiness – what will make you a good citizen or a good wife or daughter or actress.
Nobody says, 'Just be happy – go be a cobbler or go live with goats.' "
--Sandra Bullock, Interview with Glamour
{Images from In Style and Batman Begins-- Bruce Wayne followed his own path in life.}

Kids have it right. They just are. They can be just as happy with designer clothing as with a homemade t-shirt. I wish that more people would have that outlook in life. I would be so happy knowing that my siblings were happy in what they were doing, even if it wasn't a "successful job." I really want my brother to be happy. He's a good kid (well, he's not so much a kid anymore), and he deserves to be happy, but I think that he really needs to find himself first before he can know what will get him there. I think he needs to get back to that childhood mentality and then find his own personal legend.

What about you? Have you found what makes you happy?

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