The Oxford dictionary describes the word ‘happiness’ as ‘the state of being happy’. When you Google the word ‘happy’, thousands of articles are splashed onto your screen about the ‘ten secrets of happiness’, ’11 habits you need to give up to be happy’ or ‘find your happiness’. Many of these said articles focus solely on practical things such as exercising, meditation, eating well and getting enough sleep. HOW BORING. They insinuate that in order to ‘find’ happiness, one has to go through a constant battle of these rituals, and basically have no craic in life whatsoever. I always felt I knew what happiness was, but just like the scene in the Pursuit of Happiness — when Will Smith finally gets offered the job, the other day, I witnessed what true, sheer, blissful happiness was.
I was walking home from college the other day, miserable as ever at the prospect of going home to my coffin of a room to spend my evening reading about what constitutes a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ photograph (the attractiveness of the person in it obviously) for an upcoming (dreaded) assignment. As I rumbled through my handbag, the misery took over when it dawned on me that I left it back home — on my coffin bed, in my coffin room. I couldn’t help but grunt as I realised I’d have to endure the four minute walk home without George Ezra blaring in my ears. I was ready to just pack it all in, gather up my friends and leg it to the pub for several pints (of vodka) when I quite literally stumbled across, what I have to describe as, the coolest man that I’ve ever encountered.
He was there, his suitcase swinging, his grey hair blowing in the wind like the horse from Father Ted. I quite literally had to stop in my tracks to fully experience this moment. As I stood there, I felt my face (which could only have looked like a slapped arse) change – I couldn’t help but smile, I felt as if I shouldn’t be, as if I should just ignore it and pretend it wasn’t happening, as if it was an everyday norm. All of a sudden the misery which I had inflicted on myself, through my own negative thoughts faded away as I watched the beauty of this mans actions. What was he doing you ask? Well first of all, he was walking down the street— through the wind and the rain, with the biggest smile I had seen all day and he was singing, out loud at the TOP of his voice as if nobody could hear him. I swear to God, i’m sure the inhabitants of Ethiopia could hear him blowing out the song (Treasure by Bruno Mars if you wondered). But most importantly, what made me stop and stare in sheer admiration was the fact that this man just did not give even the tiniest F. He held his head high, his hand movements matched the tempo of the song and with every step the less F’s were given. As he approached me, he held his gaze and for once in my life I was able to substane eye-contact (I’m an IMMSENELY socially-awkward person), I just couldn’t stop staring and smiling. What was to occur next, was something that would change my way of thinking forever.
This man — this magical, plump, insanely happy old man reached out, grabbed my hand, raised my arm over my head and twirled me around like Audrey Hepburn in that Galaxy ad (MOON-RIVER, wider than a mile) — all the while still blaring out Bruno like there was no tomorrow. When I returned to my previous stance, he simply smiled, and he was off again, roaring down the street. I watched until he disappeared beyond the corner and all I could see was a tiny whisp of his long grey hair that was flailing behind him. I had to stand there for a few seconds to process what just happened. Was it a mirage? Was I hallucinating from a lack of sleep or too many sausage rolls? No, it happened.
Why is this such a big deal you ask? Well, let me tell you. I had spent the five minutes before I met this man, angry at the world. Because I was cold, because I didn’t have the comfort of my music, because I had to go home to my tiny room and study. But after encountering this man (and I know this is so cheddar-cheesy) my day was brightened, and my whole outlook on my day had altered. I was suddenly grateful that I had a coat to keep the rain out. I was grateful that I had an Ipod, that George Ezra was born and brought into this world, and that I had a bloody great taste in music. I was grateful that I had a room, even if it does genuinely resemble a coffin. I was grateful that I had the opportunity to study, that I could read and have the opportunity to learn and practice the things that I love.
That man, on that rainy day inspired me to not give an F in all matters of life. He inspired me to be honest, to be myself, to sing if I wanted to, to be confident in myself, to go against my module requirements and to write a personal story instead of a news/general feature (sorry Stephen).
From my own experience, not giving an F, is the single most important ingredient in the spaghetti bolognese that is life. It takes a LOT of practice and it’s one of the most difficult things to get the hang of, but once you begin to accept yourself for who you are, life suddenly becomes a lot more enjoyable. Personally, it took me twenty-two years to accept myself for who I am and who I will never be. A little while ago, I realised that I had to stop trying to be certain things for other people and start being myself; embracing my weirdness, my flaws and my quirks and most importantly I learned to never, ever take myself seriously. This my friends, has resulted in me being the happiest that I have ever been in all my twenty-three years of living because, well, I simply don’t give as much of an F as I used to, and I urge you all, every single one of you beautiful hun’s who are reading this to do the same.
If you want to do something or be something, then go out and do it. If you care a little bit too much what other people think of you, try your best not to. Other people are too busy worrying about themselves these days to be concerned about what you choose to do, or what you choose to wear. It may come with age, but someday soon we will all start to care less about trying to impress people, and instead we’ll concentrate on being mad yokes ourselves. Embrace yourselves and be yourselves. You never know, you might be the next inspiration for stories like this. You might be the person belting out Bruno Mars (I’d hope you’d pick a better artist though) and brightening young, miserable girl’s days. If you do happen to be that person, I thank you in advance, just as I thank that magical man who I stumbled across, because it’s people like you who make the world a cooler place, and a little more bearable on days like those.
The truth is, happiness isn’t something you need to practise, it’s all in the way you think; the way in which you view the world around you. Google can advise you with all these practicalities but it’s up to us all to find our own happiness. We can’t depend on other people as a source, or anything else for that matter, it’s all within us. It’s all within in us not to give one single F! This article isn’t here to patronize, or to suggest that you need to start living your life differently, it may just be a more realistic way to the pursuit of happiness .One where you don’t have to go to bed before the nine o’ clock news and eat nothing but carrots for the rest of your existence. Take from it what you will.