Growing up in a Chinese Malaysian family, I’ve been told studying science, landing an office job and getting married in that order is the road to a happy and fulfilling life.
Learning maths at university was dull for me.
For a lot of us, being happy is when we’re feeling positive. Upbeat. A sense of satisfaction. When we’re happy, we feel alright. Things are going right and where or how we want them to be.
Happiness is accepting ourselves, being okay with who we really are. It’s when we love what makes us us. Loving ourselves. For a long time, I felt guilty about taking media subjects at uni. I’m Asian Australian, someone who comes from a background where being artistically creative isn’t championed too much. But meeting so many other Asians at uni proudly doing the same subjects, I saw there was nothing to be ashamed of not fitting the Asian stereotype: we’re all different.
Happiness is letting go, starting a new chapter. It’s having the courage to leave the past behind as we find ourselves. Cleaning my room the other day, I chanced upon my old maths notes from school. Never had the heart to throw them out. However, that day, I put them in the rubbish bin.
Later that night I sat alone in my room and did some writing, lost in the words in front of me on my laptop. Before I knew it, it was 2am. And so happiness is finding and doing what we love doing. Slowing down.
Happiness is not always about us. It’s also about those around us. Helping and seeing our family, kids, friends, colleagues and pets – and even random strangers – happy, chances are we’ll be happy be too. As dancing violinist Lindsey Stirling said, “By finding passion, by sharing with other people, we are able to work from the inside out and that’s how we find happiness.”
Some of us do find happiness in a career or settling down with a family. Or winning an award or buying a house. Happiness is marked by milestones. Achievements.
Yet there’s no forgetting sad and frustrating times are part of life too. Things don’t go our way all the time. So happiness comes and goes, perhaps quietly. It’s also the fleeting moments around us, or what writer Jeff Goins calls the “in-between” – the “little” moments in life in between the big “achievements”.
Being different, going against the Asian stereotype and chasing my passion for writing has been nothing but liberating. Gratifying.
Happiness, is a state of mind.
It comes from within.
And it’s always right in front of us.
What makes you happy? What does happiness mean to you?