Written by Kaya van der Horst
Only three weeks into school and my life has already become swamped with work. Every hour seems to be filled with an important task, and the relaxation of summer appears to have vanished. The former peace and quiet at 7 a.m. is now filled with my ringing alarm clock, while sessions of binge-watching Netflix are replaced with late-night homework.
This risk of having week after week speed by in a blur is why I go out of my way to switch up my routine and create new sources of daily happiness. One of the things I do is make an effort to spend time outdoors and connect with nature. Instead of quickly driving to Sigona’s Farmers Market when I need some fruit, I go on a 30-minute stroll along the creek by my house to get there. I could drive because it’s faster and doesn’t waste “precious time” that could be spent studying, but being outdoors and feeling in sync with nature has an irreplaceable power of tranquility for me.
Another example is my daily commute to school. Although I now have my driver’s license, I still try to bike as much as possible. While I will say that on some days the comfort of driving is just too tempting, the satisfaction that biking and exercise give me makes it all worth it. It isn’t necessarily biking that I so greatly enjoy, but rather the sense of absolute freedom that comes along with it. I’ll take scenic bike rides over traffic any day.
Aside from switching up my mode of transportation, I began to incorporate new activities into my lifestyle such as yoga and daily journaling. Yoga began when my friend asked me to try a class with her, and we turned it into a weekly tradition. Of course, the goal of weekly attendance didn’t last too long, but the thrill of trying something new combined with sharing the experience with a friend made me very happy. Yoga gave me a reason to look forward to Thursdays and served as a new outlet of relaxation and mindfulness.
The idea of a daily blog stemmed from occasions when I had forgotten what I had done in the past days. The days seemed to fly by so quickly, blending into one big blur. When teachers would ask, “What did you do this weekend?” I needed a serious period of reflection. That was why I decided to start a short daily record of my activities. My mom created a beautiful calendar for the summer where my brother and I could document our highlights. The days accumulated and now, I can confirm that the summer of 2016 was truly a memorable time of happiness.
Overall, my approach to acquiring my doses of happiness is trying to slow down the fast-paced tempo of the life we live in Silicon Valley. I reject the mindset of working hard now to enjoy life later by making room for the enjoyments of life in the present. The cycle of “saving happiness for later” should be avoided at all costs, and one should learn to live in the present, instead of constantly planning their next move.
Although some of the traditions I’ve adopted over the past year may seem to be a bit quirky, I encourage everyone to find their own sources of happiness and fight the comfort of routine. Take your happiness into your own hands by pursuing the little things that make you happy every day.