The other day, I was sitting in a café sipping a chai latte. It’s still winter here, but the sun was shining and the baristas had optimistically opened the front door to let in the fresh air. I was doing some reading for work, tucked in a cozy table sitting on cute vintage furniture.
But I wasn’t happy, because I was stressed. I’m not sure why I was stressed, but I was. And I was struck with an insight that’s been pattering around my mind for the past few weeks.
Happiness is the most important thing. Learning how to be happy is the most important thing.
In the midst of work, I can take five minutes to pause, or meditate, or go for a walk – because happiness is the most important thing. I can leave one item on my to-do list unfinished instead of rushing to complete it before the café closes at 7 – because happiness is the most important thing. In the long run, rushing, cramming, packing life so full of productivity that it bursts may make me successful, but it won’t make me happy.
Learning to be happy not only means dealing with stress, but also managing emotions. Should I wallow in worry or annoyance, or let the feeling pass? Happiness is the most important thing, so I try to see the bigger picture even though the negative emotion seems “deserved.” I try to cultivate a knack for seeing the positives and smiling at them, from a sunny day to a friendly cashier.
In the end, the biggest accomplishment we have is who we are. Am I someone who knows how to be happy, patient, calm, kind? Or am I someone who “has it all,” but is unhappy, impatient, stressed, and rushed?
That’s the foundation. Everything else is just details.
Photo by Flickr user Zahid