What makes YOU happy? It is sometimes hard to answer this question. Do you listen to your heart? Do you listen to your head? Do you even listen to yourself? Or do you listen to your parents, friends, coaches, professors or society to define what happiness is for you?
I find that many students may not even know what makes them happy because they are too busy being focused on fitting in, not disappointing others, getting the right GPA, and having the right things on their resume. I remember what it was like for me in college. I hard time doing things that would make me happy because I was so concerned about what other people thought about me. First, I worried about letting down my parents. My undergraduate degree is in Business-Marketing. I went that direction because my dad thought it was practical and I could make good money. By spring break of my senior year I realized I would be miserable working in business. It took me almost my whole college career to realize I was majoring in something that I hated in order to make my parents happy. Luckily I was able to get into the Master’s program in Counseling even though I have my undergraduate in business. It was a huge risk because everyone around me thought I was crazy for giving up my business degree. Now, I’m very happy with my decision. I love my job today, and I’m so thankful I fought my fear of failure and my fear of disappointing my parents . Don’t be afraid to fail or disappoint others! You made need something different than what others need. You may also value different things. My dad wanted me to have a job that made a lot of money because he worries about money. Money means security to him and that makes him happy. I had to figure out that money isn’t as important to me as long as I can pay my bills. I didn’t want to do something I didn’t like just to make money. However, money may make someone else very happy and would be a reason they would pick a job.
A very hard lesson to learn is that you can’t always make yourself and others happy at the same time. That was really hard for me. I’m naturally a people pleaser. Life needs balance. Sometimes you choose to make others happy, but sometimes you have to stick up for yourself and make decisions that will make you happy even if it disappoints others. If you are in relationships where you have to give up what you want or don’t even know what you want because you always defer to your boyfriend, girlfriend, other friends, or family you will find yourself growing bitter over time. Some people say it makes them happy to always make others happy. Maybe in the short term, but over time resentment tends to build if you always give in to others.
Also, don’t be afraid to fail. Ask yourself what you would do if you weren’t afraid to fail or disappoint others? Do you really want to give those things up? Failure isn’t the end of a journey, its just a turning point. Many people use their failures to help them decide what to do next. How do you think people become wise??? It is okay to take a risk, it is okay to fail, it is okay to change your mind and go in another direction entirely. Hind sight is 20/20. All you can do when making a decision is to take in all the information you have up until this point and make your best guess. Sometimes its going to work out and sometimes it won’t. When it doesn’t, use that information to guide you in a new direction.
When asking others for their advice, realize that people have different views on things. It is great to take other people’s opinions into consideration. But you also have to take into consideration your own personality, values and experiences. Another example of how my dad and I are different is that he is extroverted. He likes to unwind on Friday night by hanging out with friends and being social after a long work week. I am introverted. I like to unwind by going home and relaxing with a book or one other friend. In college I did what I thought was normal, I went out every weekend with my friends. I started to become very irritable, anxious and somewhat depressed. I didn’t know what was wrong. I then went to see a counselor at my university who gave me a personality test. She realized I was introverted and explained I needed more down time than my friends. Because I was trying to make everyone else happy, and do what others thought would help me feel better, I never said no to going out. This wasn’t healthy for me. I needed to say no sometimes and just stay in to recharge my energy. What made some of my friends happy, didn’t necessarily work the same way for me. I figured out that was okay and I needed to sometimes take care of myself instead of please others.
So when it comes to being happy, really dig deep and find out what is true for you. Fight the urge to compare yourself to others or to always make others happy. It is okay to be different, to like something different or to do something different in order to be happy with yourself. When you feel happier, more people will be attracted to you and it is easier to be in relationships with others. What I also found, is that even though my dad sees things different than me, he still loves me and is happy that I’m happy. It just puzzles him how I can be happy doing something different than what makes him happy. Those who love you may be confused by your choices sometimes, but if they love you, they will be glad you did what made you happy. If it ends up being the wrong decision, and you find that you aren’t happy, use that information to do something different. If you aren’t dead, then its not too late! Good luck finding your true happiness.