At 22, my life is a bit of an ambiguous mess, and I am strangely okay with that.
Fresh out of school with a marketing degree, having literally completed my final collegiate course last night, I find myself both shaking with excitement and frozen with fear. I have no qualms in regards to these feelings of hot and cold, it keeps life interesting -- warm, if you will.
While I have reflected on the next steps in my life, I have spent a considerable amount of time mulling over two particular themes -- Happiness and the pursuit of happiness.
I have been asking myself the cliche yet enormously important question, “What will make me happy?” Today, I would like to share with you a few thoughts I have had in regards to this question.
1. Gravity is a Bitch, and so is the Genetic Lottery, Accept It
I think I was 15 years old when I looked in the mirror and noticed that I had a big nose. I thought to myself, “Well fuck, that thing is kind of big”. I never thought about it again.
Not until breaking it several times throughout the years playing basketball, and finally having to surgically repair my deviated septum so that I wouldn’t have to breath out of my mouth for the rest of my life. But that is a story for another day.
If you have ever seen my grandfather, you will have noticed that he is as bald as a bat. The chances of me having a full head of hair at 30 are slim to none, and slim just caught the last train to Clarksville. But it’s okay, Papaw just turned 76 and I am fairly certain he has a more active sex life than me.
What I am trying to say here is that eventually we all start looking older because we are getting older, and there is beauty in that. You can spend your life stressing over it, or you can accept it for what it is.
Also, as much as I wish it was true that we were all created equal, we weren’t. The sooner you realize that beauty is everything below the surface, the happier you will be.
It doesn’t matter how pretty your eyes are, what matters is that you’re compassionate enough to see beauty in others. It doesn’t matter how nice your tits are, what matters is how big your heart is behind them. A full head of hair means nothing, if you haven’t spent ample time developing the brain below it. And men, we all can’t wear magnums, but everyone of us is capable of showing loyalty to our partner.
2. Surround Yourself with People Who Bring You Happiness
I have been blessed to have people in my life who bring me abundant amounts of happiness. My parents, my brothers and my best friends -- Ian Holbrook, Jake Titzer, Kinsley Shannon, Austen Henson, Taylor Mathis, Robbie Graninger, Brian Grant, and John Wahoski just to name a few. All of these people bring me crazy amounts of joy; whether it’s just watching them succeed and accomplish their dreams or spending time with them, laughing.
There is a saying, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” This saying is generally used in regards to success; surround yourself with successful people and you yourself will be successful.
The same can be said about happiness. Surround yourself with the 5 people who bring you the most happiness, and it makes it very difficult not to be happy.
3. Stargaze & Experience The Beauty of Feeling Small
A dear friend of mine once told me that her favorite thing to do was stargaze. I must admit that at first I had to hold back a few Nicholas Sparks jokes, but once I started to give it some serious thought, I realized the power of her words.
Today, we are so caught up in our phones and our digital lives that we never take the time to experience this greater masterpiece that we are all living in.
When I was very young, my mom would always sing “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. There is a beautiful lyric in that song -- “I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.”
It speaks of the tremendous beauty in nature’s giants, and the happiness the simplistic depth of these giants can bring.
It reminded me a lot of my friends words and the deep happiness she felt underneath the stars; smaller and part of something so much bigger.
4. Create Experiences that Money Can’t Buy
When you are dead, and your family and friends gather to celebrate and honor you and your life, what will they talk about? I highly doubt they will say, “I tell you what, I am really going to miss Carl. That cherry red range rover and million dollar home really made him special.”
I can’t say I have ever shook God’s hand; but I can’t imagine we will be driving through his pearly white gates in our convertibles taking Snapchats when our time has come.
Create experiences for yourself that money can’t buy. Take time to travel and see new places. Laugh with the people you love, the deep kind of laughter that makes your throat hurt and your face turn red. Listen to music, the shit that moves your soul and gives you goose bumps.
Just live, that’s all. Take time to live and experience life without money
5. Balance The Present With The Future & Forget The Past
There are quite a few people that hold the belief that happiness can only be experienced when an individual lives solely in the present.
Philosophical? Sure. Bullshit? Absolutely.
I know a lot of people who live completely in the present, and in turn are very unhappy. In order to change your present, it is imperative to change your thoughts about the future -- for your future will become your present.
Take time to thoroughly enjoy every single day, but have the motivation and the gumption to make tomorrow better.
On the contrary, I know a lot of people who are obsessed with tomorrow. Constantly thinking about growth, success, money; and in turn they are very unhappy. They eventually stumble upon the realization that one day there will not be a tomorrow.
Don’t over invest in tomorrow, nor commit to finding happiness in tomorrow, because tomorrow is not sure to come.
Lastly, stop thinking about your past. Time, I am afraid, will never move backwards.
6. Embrace Your Vice
I know. I know. “Cole, why would you ever tell anyone to embrace their wicked behavior?”
People, life is short. We are never going to be perfect, so stop trying to be.
Drink your gin, smoke your cigars, gobble up your coffee. If you want to take down a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia while watching 50 Shades of grey, do it with a smile on your face.
We all have a vice, a guilty pleasure that brings us wicked amounts of joy. As long as you aren’t hurting other people, let your freak flag fly.
7. Leave The World a Little Better Than You Found It
This is my final thought for the day, and I think it is the most important of the bunch. How are you leaving this world a little better than you found it?
Once your time has come; what value will you have left behind to make other people's live better? Happier?
Maybe, happiness comes from making other people happy...
But what do I know? I am only 22.