Happiness Challenge, Day 1.

For my first day of this, I took a look at “28 Questions for a Happy Life” The Tiny Buddha. In answering these questions, I hope to find a good starting point for myself to at least begin to feel I am at inner peace.

1. We learn from our mistakes, yet we’re always so afraid to make one. Where is this true for you? I think this is true for me at work and it was certainly true for me in my past dating life. At work I constantly avoid trying new things in case I fail at them. And in my dating life I overthought and planned every move so carefully so as not to look over-eager, and so I would look like the kind of person someone would want to date. 

2. What risk would you take if you knew you could not fail? The one thing that comes to mind is writing. I have abandoned my writing life because it seems impossible and impractical and I just don’t have the time for it anymore. But really, those are excuses I make for myself because I’m afraid of failing at writing. I gave up so I wouldn’t have to face rejection and reality. If I knew I wouldn’t fail, I would beat down doors; I would enter plays in Fringe festivals; I would submit pieces to every lit magazine in the country.  

3. What is your greatest strength? Have any of your recent actions demonstrated this strength? My greatest strength is writing. It’s my best way of communicating and has helped me find my words in so many situations. It has made me realize that, at least for one moment in my life, I was special and did have talent. 

4. What are the top five things you cherish in your life? 1) Love – familial and romantic love, first and foremost; 2) My career – every day, even bad days, are still amazing on some level; 3) My vinyl collection – the one material thing that is so much more than just an object; records are stories, teleporters, time machines; 4) Memories and relics of my life in Vancouver – friendships and fondnesses and places I’ll never forget, restaurants I would fly in just to eat at; 5) my cat – he’s been there for me for eight years now and it’s unimaginable to think of a life without him.

5. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? I like this question a lot.I think I would answer with 24 – my 24th year was the year I discovered so much about myself and really became myself. Things kept getting clearer from there but despite that, there is youthfulness and confusion that I still embrace and never let go of. Sometimes I forget and can’t believe I turn 30 this year.

6. When do you stop calculating risk and rewards, and just do it? When I am either on the verge of failure or self-redemption, or there is no other option but to be successful. 

7. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive? Today. Today was one of those days in teaching where things felt smooth and right and good, where I was able to express my passion and feel it in my day. It’s rare that I feel that actually, so bogged down am I by everything else that’s going on in my life with students. 

8. What do you most connect with? Why? Music. Music has a unique way of understanding you without offering anything but empathy, in a way that nothing or nobody else can do.

9. What one piece of advice would you offer a newborn child? To learn to speak your mind and ask for help when you need it, and ask for what you want when you want it. 

10. Which is worse—failing or never trying? My first instinct is failure. Failure is my biggest fear. It scares me more than anything. My fear of failure makes me more self-critical and self-destructive than anything in my life. But logically I know that never trying is so much worse, especially with the knowledge that we only get and have one life.

11. Why do we do things we dislike and like the things we never seem to do? Because we’re scared. Because in this life the world is expensive and complicated and fragmented, and we only have so much time, and sadly it is often spent on priorities and not dreams. As adults, we stop dreaming at a certain point and instead, we look at adult decisions as things we ‘should’ be doing.

12. What are you avoiding? I don’t know. My life is mostly structured to face things head-on.

13. What is the one job/cause/activity that could get you out of bed happily for the rest of your life? Are you doing it now? I am sort of doing it now. I am quite literally living my dream. But there are still some issues with that — I’m new and lack confidence, first of all. And second of all, I am not where I would love to be geographically which takes its toll on me and makes me somewhat unhappy and wistful.

14. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done? I hope not.

15. What are you most grateful for? My partner.

16. What would you say is one thing you’d like to change in the world? I would like to eliminate global warming problems and instability in the environment.

17. Do you find yourself influencing your world, or it influencing you? The world influences me, but I hope that my the career I’ve chosen, I will have some small part in influencing the world someday.

18. Are you doing what you believe in or settling for what you’re doing? I am definitely doing what I believe in.

19. What are you committed to? My career, my partner, and my lifestyle.

20. Which worries you more – doing things right or doing the right things? In my job these two things are intertwined, but definitely the latter worries me more.

21. If joy became the national currency, what kind of work would make you wealthy? Either teaching or music journalism.

22. Have you been the kind of friend you’d want as one? YES. Although I can think of three people who would disagree with this, one of the only things I have strived for is to be present for people I love.

23. Do any of the things that used to upset you a few years ago matter at all today? What’s changed? Yes, a couple of things. But otherwise I have made big changes and achieved several dreams and this has given me perspective that things I was upset about happened in exactly the way they should have. 

24. Would you rather have less work to do or more work you enjoy doing? I don’t want to live to work, but I don’t want to work to live either. I want to find the balance between enjoying so much what I do but finding other things on the side that make me just as happy, and that I still have time for.

25. What permission do you need/want to move forward? The permission to stay where I am if I choose to.

26. Really, what do you have to lose if you go for it? I am going for it. I plan to not stop going for it. 

27. How different would your life be if there weren’t any criticism in the world? My life would be the best. Every door would open. Everything would be illuminated. I wouldn’t have lost friends over criticism of one kind or another.

28. We’re always making choices. Are you choosing for your story or for someone else’s? I hope I’m choosing for mine. Even in my relationship I have still done what’s best for me and prioritized things in the best way I could for me. I’m used to being alone and calling my own shots so that’s something that comes naturally to me.

 

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