Learning to Internalize Happiness

by Delphine Burns


"Solitude can be important." Photo courtesy of Delphine Burns
“Solitude can be important.” Photo courtesy of Delphine Burns

Constantly being connected to others is a blessing and a curse. At the tip of your fingers, you’re able to reach out to almost anyone and let them know exactly what you currently feel, via technology. Likewise, if you want to get dinner with a friend, nothing is stopping you from appearing at their door and taking them with you. People surround you constantly, especially while in college. Living in a community creates a friendly, intimate environment for friendships to be forged and for memories to be made. Undoubtedly, living in a community is an important part of the college experience. Even when you go home, you’re likely to be spending time with family or with old friends from past times in your life. Little time is left for you to cultivate a healthy relationship with yourself and with your psyche. All of a sudden, having alone time isn’t the norm and may not even feel like an option. It’s reduced to short walks or sitting outside your room on a bench late at night to think. It’s rare that you have time anymore to take inventory of yourself and of your feelings. It becomes difficult, then, to know what you need as an individual, and if these standards are being met.

In a society measuring validation largely by human interaction, it’s difficult to remember how to find validation within yourself. Sometimes it’s rather easy to forget the simple things that make you happy regardless of what’s going on in the rest of the world. We become so convinced that the only way to console ourselves in difficult times is with human conversation or contact. While that certainly helps, sometimes maybe the issue lies deeper within us. Maybe if happiness were a little more internalized, we would have fewer bad days and could create good days with fewer expectations. If we’re relying on others to constantly meet these expectations and do what we’d like them to, chances are we will be disappointed. We’re all human and to some extent have our own best interest in mind before that of others. Therefore, if we place the burden of our own happiness on another’s decisions or actions, we’re not exactly setting ourselves up for contentment.

Think of it this way. How many times do you say to yourself “I’ll be happy if…” or “I’ll be happy when…” Or, how many times do you wake up on a Monday and long for Friday’s arrival. We’re all guilty of this, but really each day could be filled with happiness, or at least lined with it. I recognize that some actions of others are far too significant to ignore or to leave us unscathed. However, I at least recommend finding an internal happiness that will relieve some of this pain. Internal happiness can be retained far more easily than happiness stemming from human interaction, because no matter how much trust and dependence you invest in someone, there is no guarantee the situation won’t evaporate. The only common denominator in every victory and loss you experience is you.

These internalized satisfactions don’t have to be extremely significant, and certainly will not be the same for every individual. In fact, contentment will vary greatly among the human population. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to truly get to know yourself, and what your method is for feeling blissful. Relying on others is great, but relying on you is vital. So find a beautiful thinking spot, a genre of music that inspires your innermost creativity, or simply allow yourself time to merely think uninterrupted. Solitude can be important. Happiness is there. You’ll find it.

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