Now you probably read that title and thought that I either messed up or I have some pretty flawed logic. Most people will tell you that you have to find happiness in yourself before you find it in others.
And that’s true. But other people are important too. Because the people in your life are a part of the reality that you create for yourself. The people you surround yourself with should make you happy.
Starting college, I have met a lot of new people that I love. Lots of new acquaintances and friends that have made me so happy. And I’m not talking about best friends. I’m talking about people who I say hi to in the hallway or talk to in class. And I found myself wondering why in the world new random people could make me so happy. So I began to think of the things that made my life different recently. Want to know what I came up with?
“Good luck! Let me know how it goes.”
“I’m proud of you”
“I miss you.”
“You look pretty today”
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
These are phrases of I had underestimated. When your world is small and you see the same people every day for years of your life, you lose touch with these small important phrases. These words get lost in the everyday life “what time will you be home?” “do you need anything from the store?” and “did you do the dishes?” But these small statements that often get lost in the shuffle are important, because they show us that someone cares. They aren’t professions of love or intense passion, but rather just small pieces of evidence that someone other than you is invested in your situation. And these words were ones that I had begun to not hear, and also not say. I didn’t realize how much I missed them and how necessary they are to being happy.
And of course, there are some people that, no matter what you say to them, cannot step outside of themselves enough to make you feel this happiness. People too stuck in their own world will not understand the importance of the words they say and will very rarely utter statements like the ones above. But these are the people who most often need to hear the statements they don’t give to others.
So say them anyways, even if you never hear them back.
However, these are the people we must often let go of because they start to make us think differently. These are the people that can pull the happiness out of us, often without us even realizing it. I didn’t realize how many of these people I had in my life, how much I missed hearing these little important words, until I stepped out of my everyday life and met some new people. I didn’t realize how much I had retreated, how much I had pulled myself away from new experiences thinking I wasn’t worth it, fearing I was not good enough.
Because in our world, in our self-centered generation, small acts of kindness are so rare. Words of caring are too often signs of weakness, and we are encouraged not too rely on people because they are bound to let us down. In this way, we foster a culture of rejection. We are taught not to expect too much and therefore create low standards. We are taught not to find happiness in other people. We are taught to create our happiness, no matter the cost. I have always been told that I expect too much of people. When did an investment in other people’s lives and someone invested in mine become too high of an expectation?
So I want to say that we can and we do find happiness in other people. We find happiness in the joys and upsets of other people’s lives. We enjoy getting involved in other people’s experiences, even if it is just in the smallest ways. And meeting new people is the best way to appreciate this and put it into perspective. I’m not saying we have to neglect or throw out the people that have always been there for us. That would be a horribly mistaken viewpoint. I am saying that no matter how much we love our family and closest friends, the people that we are so comfortable with, it is important to have other experiences too. It is important to step outside our comfort zone. Because only when we do that can we truly appreciate the ones we have loved for so long. Our old relationships can greatly improve when we change and grow. The best relationships should never prevent you from changing and growing.
When you start to feel unappreciated, dejected, bored, depressed, complacent, or stuck, go out and find some new experiences. Find some new people and get involved in the lives of others. Show them you care and realize that you deserve to be cared about. Reevaluate the people in your life. Offer them the words you wish to hear. If you don’t hear them back, that’s ok. Don’t stop saying them. But make sure you find people that make you as happy as you strive to make others, that put as much effort into your relationship as you do. It’s ok to expect that from people. It’s ok to expect loyalty, love, and caring. It’s ok to expect to find happiness in other people. We’re human.