Dedicated to the great friends I’ve made this year: Tarik, Yusuf C., Moadh, Maaz, Yusuf B., Ola, Denise and Stephanie, Brian, Dylan, Kensi, Delilah, Kuba, Teri, Grant, and Jessica Thank you guys for your generosity and making this semester so memorable.
Also special thanks to Asad, Ashley, Ahmad, Krystle, Nathalie, Kyle, Vincent, and Zenoor for their close friendship and timeless memories over the last few years.
And finally, Emily, for being my Best Friend.
I recently re-listened to one of my favorite comedians, Pete Holmes, and his latest special, Faces & Sounds. It came out in 2016 but comedy is timeless, usually.
Anyways, in the special he mentions why it’s important to be happy, even if it’s for the most trivial of reasons. See the link right here for that clip so I don’t have to ruin it:
Lately, it seems like there’s no way of avoiding things that are depressing or angry. All this stress could be due to a number of social, economic or even political factors. Adam Curtis said in a podcast with Russell Brand that politicians have lost their inability to empathize with ordinary people and their feelings. I can concede that there have been a series of changes this year that have impacted us in ways that make it understandable for one to feel anger or even devastation. Nevertheless, these incendiary feelings ultimately will bring us nowhere.
So how should we feel? Why should we be happy? To be completely honest, there’s no reason to be happy. Smiles won’t bring back the homes destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, smiles won’t change the result of our elections. But, it will confuse us into laughing, even if it is for no reason.
They say it takes more muscles to smile than to frown, moreover, they say if you can trick yourself into smiling, you’ll all of a sudden be in a positive mood. I’m not sure how accurate these things are. Especially when matters of the heart have caused us to remain melancholy.
I will say, that smiling and laughter caused by being around great company is a perfect remedy for any stressful situation. There’s something about being with excellent friends that lightens up the heart and make living worth while. There is a reason why solitary confinement is a punishment; it’s because without being around society, we would go insane. In fact, one of my favorite notes in Russell Brand’s autobiography, My Booky Wook, he mentions how making plans with friends and loved ones are a perfect way to prevent suicide because you’d be too busy to kill yourself:
I’m finally gonna do it. I’m gonna kill myself. First thing tomorrow- oh wait, I’m supposed to have lunch with Kelly tomorrow. Okay, well I can still do it the next day. Oh dang, I can’t cause me and Matt are gonna watch the new Star Wars film.
I once contemplated suicide but it was many years ago. I wasn’t in a good place emotionally, but I had myself convinced that other people couldn’t be trusted. And then the more I thought about how appealing suicide or just death was, I quickly realized how my mother would feel, how devastated she would be. I realized how my best friends would feel angry that I didn’t just call them just to talk and perhaps they could have talked me out of it (or made plans to hang out so I wouldn’t get a chance to.)
They say time heals all wounds and it does actually, somehow, things just get better, inexplicably. I wasn’t happy when I moved to San Antonio. My only sanctuary was going to class and reading my books but at some point, you get tired of sitting home (again) and watching the same shows on Netflix over and over again. Instead, I remembered a phone number of a guy who I met only once but got a genuinely embracing vibe from him. Ended up sending him a text, and within 10 minutes, I went from feeling bored and alone to having plans to meet with a cool group of guys and having tea.
I spent 4 hours just hanging out with these guys and laughing more than I did in the last few weeks that I had been since I moved. These guys ended up becoming my closest friends in that city and now that I’m back in Houston, I look forward to seeing them again. One of them is gonna graduate soon so he’ll go back to his home country soon, but I will do my best to cherish the time I’ve got left. Of course, I would be remiss to not acknowledge that I also got to spend some time with members of my graduate cohort and their company made me feel as if I wasn’t alone in my pursuit of studying History. I’ve also got my close circle of friends in Houston whom I’ve got countless memories with.
The point I’m trying to make, aside from giving my friends a shoutout on the blog, is that one of the best ways to be happy, in my opinion, is to surround yourself with close friends and loved ones. Every one of us have problems and nothing is lost from someone who is able to confide in their friend or to have someone tell you their problem and learn that you’re not alone with whatever is plaguing you.
I’m no psychologist or emotions expert, all this is from my own experience as an individual. I am constantly on the search for happiness and the more I read the news with Islamophobia on the rise, injustice happening to people of color, and people my own age trying to assert themselves as adults in a world where people have preconceived notions of us as spoiled brats, how would happiness fix all this? It can’t. But, it can confuse us and the confusion in itself will humor us. Let me give an example:
I had an Uber driver once who was taking me to the bus station in Houston. This one driver near us, for some reason, wouldn’t let us pass, even though our indicator was on. Every time we were about to pass, they decided to speed up. Understandably, my Uber driver was upset, he muttered under his breath “f***in’ b***h” and pulled up next to her. I had no idea what to expect. But to my surprise, he waved to the other driver and kept his window up and just said “hi there!”
All I could do was laugh. What an amazing way to combat road rage! Someone insults you, and you respond with something that no one would expect. You can use the same kind of practice when you’re feeling sad almost. I remember watching Schindler’s List for the first time, I cried so much. To make myself feel better, I watched Inglorious Basterds and couldn’t stop laughing at my therapeutic attempt to cheer myself up.
The mind is a powerful thing and we have happiness stored away somewhere in our brains but for some reason, we have trouble finding it when we are at our most vulnerable. If we’re sad, cry with someone and then laugh about it later. If we’re angry, complain about it with someone and then do something to take your mind off it. Do something good for someone and let their happiness you’ve given them show you how meaningful your life is. There’s a saying that goes, “no one has ever been poor from giving” and that’s true: sadness is temporary, happiness is everlasting.
Again, happiness is a contagious feeling despite the incendiary attitudes that seem to be everywhere. All we need to do, is block and confuse those negative feelings out. Show them that they mean nothing to us. I hope this has been able to inspire people to find happiness as well. A lot of these techniques I am practicing more and more. Things will always get worse but they’ll always become better. Just continue to laugh a little easier, be kind to your neighbors, and have patience that things will get better. But what do I know? 😉
Written on the 23rd of December, 2017