Things To Remember

Every once in a while, I make a list of the things in life that I hold strongly to.  Some of them are based on experiences and wisdom from those around me. Like many things in my life, a lot of them are rather arbitrary but I still cling to them quite tightly just to spite their lack of quantification.

I am not ultimately in control of my life or who I am.

Happiness is not our main goal here.

Life is not falling apart; it was never all together to begin with.

Life is an adventure.

It’s going to be okay.

Expectations will kill you.

So kill them first.

The times that I am the worst are the times that I am spending the most time thinking about myself.

We are never alone.

There is no point in needless sadness.

But it’s okay to be sad sometimes.

There are always decisions to be made, we just don’t take the time to realize we are making them.

There is much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Cheap Medicine

My professor today advised us to put our ideas up against the “laugh test”.  If you tell someone your brain child and they make a mockery of it, than it probably isn’t such a good idea.  I just looked at my friend and choked back a laugh of my own.

Laughter is a very common response nowadays  to our ideas.  I  definitely believe that some ideas should be released before they drag you down in impossible pursuits.  Yet if my friend and I had stopped when people laughed at us, we would have missed out on a lot of wonderful experiences.  Perhaps we would have a bit more sanity than we do now, but we would be having a lot less fun and a lot less laughter.  I usually laugh along with those who doubt us,  but I refuse to let laughter get in my way.  Giving someone a good time at my expense is fine, but letting them deprive me of being absurd is not.

I think a lot can be solved through laughter.  When you have a reached a point where you can laugh at yourself, you are never more than one act of mindless goofery away from a good time.  When you can zoom out enough that the overwhelming pixels merge together and become a coherent picture, you can laugh at the lack of perspective you once had and enjoy the birds’ eye view.  Of course, there are issues that must be dealt with and can’t be laughed away.

Still, I have determined to never let the laughter stop me, and instead never stop laughing at this marvelously quirky world we live in.

Strangers’ Smiles and Sunday Sweaters

I am consistently astounded by the friendliness of people I don’t know.  Today, I have pinpointed why a smile from a stranger can make my day when nothing else can.

That person I passed on the sidewalk had no obligation to smile when they saw me.  I wasn’t making awkward eye contact, I didn’t initiate the smile, and they didn’t feel a need to greet me because I’m their lab partner’s sister’s roommate’s neighbor.  We were strangers until the smile.

I am consistently delighted by Sundays.  Some of my friends have dedicated themselves to doing no work on Sundays in honor of the Lord’s day, and I respect them very much for it.  For me, Sunday is a wonderful day to not have the pressure of five meetings in the afternoon and two exams and one quiz during the day.  It is a wonderful day to start with church and allow myself to be by myself or with others or spend a few minutes doing nothing or getting work done so I can thrive and not just survive during the next week.  Rest is highly underrated.  I always insist on wearing a sweater on Sundays.

Sweaters mean comfort and peace and contentment.  Sundays are a good reminder of what every day should contain.

The Difference of 20 Degrees

There are some words that I consistently get mixed up.  Depends and matters.  Affect and effect. (does anyone get that one right?) 11 o’clock and 1’oclock. (I might alone on this one…)
Thermostat and thermometer.

It’s not that I don’t know that there is a difference between a thermostat and a thermometer, I just can’t remember which one is which at a moment’s notice.  The difference is huge though.  One sets the temperature to what you want it to be, the other just records things “as is”.  The same goes for joy and happiness.

Joy is not conditional on the test you just received, if someone looked at you funny, or if the weather is nice outside.  Happiness can be a conditional emotion.  It’s too variable and easily affected to be depended on for any type of self-evaluation.

Joy is a conscious decision.  It goes hand in hand in contentment but steps up the game a bit.

Joy is rejoicing in the things that don’t change (i.e. God’s love for us, salvation, undeserved grace,etc…)

Joy is built on a peace that is derived from God, not simply an absence of troubles or drama.

Joy is a gift and a goal.  It is not earned.  You don’t have to buy 32 boxes of cereal and mail in box tops to receive it.  It also isn’t going to be parachuted from a magical Joy Jet and land in your lap.  It must be pursued and sought after and protected, because joy is easily stolen.

It can be a daily struggle to be consistent in joy.  It’s far easier to keep checking the thermometer because there is nothing you can do about the weather.  Choosing joy takes intentionality and effort.

For me, consistency is more of a curse than a struggle.  There is always a large part of me that stays the same no matter what is going on around me.  This works greatly for me in my favor as it tends to neutralize the possibility for anger or disappointment or frustration or stress.  Yet being consistently apathetic is like setting your thermostat to 60 degrees and never changing it.  There is no value in that, unless you like wearing three sweaters at the same time all the time.

Today could have been a lukewarm day.  There was no reason for it to be a bad day, however.  Mediocre didn’t seem like a favorable option either.  Sticking with a good day felt like settling since I am alive today and have a God that loves me and am surrounded by so much beauty.  Today, I have decided to set my thermostat to 80 degrees and leave it there.

If I can be consistently unconcerned, than I may as well be consistently joyful.

Happiness Revisited

It was rather cold this morning for August.  Driving with my back windshield fogged up because 1378211213_8f5b7900cdI’m too lazy to wipe it off and being awake and on the road before 8 in the morning made me feel like I was going to high school again.  However, instead of staying in the 50s all day like most school days, the sun came back and summer showed its face again.
Today was probably just as nice as any other day this summer.  Playful sunshine and soft breezes, swaying trees and all that wonderful summer beauty.  Yet, because I woke up cold and had to put on jeans and a sweatshirt on this morning, changing into a skirt and sandals made the day seem so much more delightful.
I find it sad that I can’t appreciate how wonderful life is until I have something to contrast it with.  I don’t see the sunshine until I’ve lived in the shadows.  I can’t muster up any happiness if I never feel sad.
Today was probably just as nice as any other day but today was more wonderful than any other day.  I have reflected back on my summer and realized it was even better than I thought.  Its been a fun experience and perhaps more importantly, a learning experience.  Even without test scores and grades to validate me, I am quite assured that I have learned just as much in the last two and a half months of living life than I did over the past year.
I’ve learned how to balance my to do list and organization and obsession with getting things done with enjoying others around me and making the most of my limited time.  I’ve learned how to balance listening and talking, being home and being away, hiding in my writings and expressing myself out loud, staying aware of the world while staying delightfully oblivious.

I’ve learned how to deem things irrelevant, such as having a balanced life, so I could live to extremes.  Quite obviously, I’ve also perfected the skill of contradicting myself.  At the beginning of the school year, I wrote this: http://86400seconds-smiles11.blogspot.com/2010/12/theory-3-happiness-is.html.  If you don’t feel like taking the time to read it, I basically said that happiness was a worthless goal in life.  I still think joy is way more important yet hard to come by sometimes.  I have tested my theory and have lived an equally full life being indifferent to happiness as when I embraced it.  I’m not going to make happiness the main focus of my life by any means but there is more value in it than I originally supposed.

Here is what I have found happiness to be good for:  Until I let myself feel happy, then I can’t feel sad either.  Not feeling sad bothers me more than not feeling happy.  I suppose switching the order would make more sense, that it makes more sense to feel sad first so happiness means more when it comes.  Either way, a juxtaposition between the two emotions is needed, therefore happiness does have a valuable purpose.
Saying goodbye to family, friends, familiar places and memories in the next two weeks will be sad.  Yet it wouldn’t be genuinely sad if those things didn’t represent genuine happiness at one time or another.  This heartache is well worth years of happy memories.

Side note:  This is my 50th post in the span of roughly a year.  Thank you all who make it to the end of these long-winded posts.