what are you aiming towards?

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It's difficult for me to find a balance for this space. I love interviewing local creatives, but I also enjoy sharing about my day-to-day-life. Sometimes I feel like this site is slightly unbalanced, but if that's the price I have to pay in order to share my story, I'm okay with it. 

I've come to realize that I'm often looking for happiness, but the things that give me happiness aren't what I'd expect them to be. You'd think happiness would equal money or influence, but I'm finding happiness is also found in the midst of struggle.

David Brooks has this wonderful essay on "the road to character" and in that essay he talks about how we often aim for happiness, but what we really want is struggle. He says that the things that shape us and give us a sense of purpose aren't generally "happy moments," but are instead moments of struggle and/or difficulty.

Case in point: a few weeks ago, an out-of-state friend called and told me they were feeling suicidal. This particular person is strong-willed and tenacious, so I felt very unsettled as I listened. Their life seems so sweet and fun and good. How is this happening to them of all people?

While the conversation was difficult and eye-opening, it also bestowed upon me a gift of awareness. Lately I have been very self-focused, but that conversation pulled me out of my perpetual worry and thrust me into the orbit of other people's problems. It was jarring and it made me feel very alive.

Oddly enough, it was that awareness of other people's struggles that gave me a sense of purpose and happiness. Purpose because I wanted to help those around me who may be struggling in secret; happiness because in that moment of vulnerability, I felt alive and connected. Happiness caught me by surprise in that moment and made me see the connection between joy and struggle. 

This may not all connect super well, but know that I'm beginning to unlearn the idea that happiness is all about money, success, and vacation days. Based on this month's conversations, I've discovered that happiness is often found in hard conversations that cause us to invest more into our relationships. Happiness can feel like struggle - it often is just that - but the end result is triumph. 

I used to think success meant having ten thousand friends and ten thousand dollars, but I don't think that as much anymore. Happiness is less about a smile on my face and more about a sense of purpose within my soul.