I’m sure this will come as a big shocker to most of you, but I’ve spent a significant amount of my time these past few months discovering new things to read- be it media sources (This Magazine being one of the best), blogs of other people’s adventures (such as Learning Away, written by my favourite prof I never had, about her year driving around North America in a trailer with her family), the St. Catharines’ library, my parents’ and grandparents’ bookshelves, and the great blog network LifeRemix which is all about self-improvement and personal growth. All my reading has led me to believe that I share the opinions of many people, most of whom are more articulate in expressing them than I. When I find articulately and succinctly expressed views that complement or mirror my own, I am more than happy to quote the individual indefinitely and repeat their wisdom to others.
One of the blogs in the network is called The Happiness Project. Its written by Gretchen Rubin, a woman who decided to spend one year testing out various theories about happiness and write about it in a book. Its a pretty neat project, and her blog has a very interesting steady flow of food for thought around the sometimes-elusive ideal of happiness. She sometimes posts interviews with interesting people- often other bloggers or writers- on the subject of happiness. Today’s interview was with Alexandra Levit (if you are a Wall Street Journal reader, her name may ring a bell). One quote I took away from the interview is:
“It’s not what you do but what you think/how you feel about what you do that’s the important variable.”
To provide a bit of context, she was talking about the difference between being external happiness (having someone to love and something to do) versus internal happiness (how you think and feel about the person you love and the things you do). This differentiation reminded me a bit of what Robert J. Hastings was getting at in his story, The Station.
I’ve been known in the past to be frustrated when things don’t unfold the way I thought they would in my head. I’m working on it- and like to think I am getting better. What I have learned in my efforts though is that attitude is at least half the battle: things don’t often turn out perfectly, but looking for a silver lining or making the best of it or finding happiness somewhere you weren’t looking can mean the difference between something becoming entirely negative or entirely positive. External happiness may be a lot easier to objectively measure, but its also often completely outside of my control. So, internal happiness it is.
Iqaluit is going to be great. I doubt it will be everything I’ve imagined or that I won’t have challenges, but I do believe that I will meet great people, learn a lot of things, and have at least a few once-in-a-lifetime experiences. So, to my future self: find something to do that you feel positive about doing, and do it. Look for happiness somewhere you didn’t expect. Don’t let the darkness fool you: there are many good things to be discovered.