1.26.2014

The Act of Happiness

Dear Lovely Readers,

It seems like a polar vortex has invaded NYC, and my camera and I are safely tucked away from the bitter cold. I'd love to use my time at home as a chance to discuss an important topicthe pursuit of happiness. Most humans are on a constant pursuit of happiness, whether through means of instant gratification (food, shopping, etc.), or achievements in success, money, or status. How often do you feel, "Once I find my dream job, I'll be happy" or "If people admire my accomplishments, I'll be happy." I believe success, money, and relationships are not the origins of happiness, but the tools to help us reach happiness. The true origin of happiness comes from within yourself, and in that sense, is completely in your control.

(Photography by Takashi Matsuzaki)

One of the best personal examples I can recall was from my time at work. Each person was assigned a challenging goal for the month and I constantly felt the pressure to succeed, not only for the company goal, but for my own expectations. Sometimes I failed, and oftentimes I reached my goal a day before, or even a few hours before the deadline. Of course in that moment I felt elated and relieved. But eventually I realizedI'm only happy for a few days or hours in an entire month. Am I really going to be unhappy and stressed for the remaining 29 days of the month, 350 days of the year?

I will be the first to encourage you to have goals and be driven to accomplish. But punishing yourself with self-induced stress will not help you accomplish. In fact, excessive stress will only cause you to burn out and lose confidence in your abilities. Learn to use that pressure as a motivator to fuel you, not overwhelm you. The takeaway lesson: don't let your successes or failures determine your competence or happiness.

Happiness is not passive. It's not a light bulb that turns on or fairy dust that sprinkles onto you and determines "now you're officially happy!" It's something you actively have to work towards. You have to act yourself into feeling happy on a daily basis. That's where appreciation for what you already have, not what you're anticipating, help reach the happiness goal. The world is in a constant flux. Nothing remains forever, and you certainly can't get your time back, so I encourage you to live in the moment and appreciate what you have in the here and now.

Another factor is positive attitude. Just like you choose what shoes to wear with your outfit, you too choose your attitude. I read a beautiful passage in The Maxwell Daily Reader by John C. Maxwell that says, "I cannot always choose what happens to me, but I can always choose what happens in me. Some things in life are beyond my control. Some things are within it. My attitude in the areas beyond my control can be the difference maker."  
I strongly believe that your attitude determines your outlook.

Lastly, happiness is living for yourself, and not the world to see. Outer appearances are just thatouter appearances. You might have a beaming smile on your face and seemingly everything one could want, but only you'll know if you're truly happy. You can fake it to the world, but you can't fake it to your heart.

What are your thoughts on my article, and do you find yourself struggling with these issues? Although I'm still learning how to balance my goal-oriented nature with a feeling of contentment, I genuinely hope this post shares some insights with you. Thank you for reading! And special thanks to the talented Takashi Matsuzaki for his stunning photograph (and one of my personal favorites of his work)!


36 comments:

  1. STAY HAPPY AND BE A CHANEL OF BLESSING TO EVERYONE :)

    SOMETHING REAL SERIOUS

    FACEBOOK PAGE

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  2. I remember when I was younger, a teacher told me that happiness is a habit and I always try to remember that I have to make an effort to be positive because happiness isn't something that just "happens." I really enjoyed reading this post because as a person who works in Washington, DC in the political scene, people get so cutthroat about their work and forget to just take a moment to count their blessings and just be happy. Thank you for writing this - it was definitely a reminder for me to relax and just be content. :]

    xo Deborah
    Coffee, Prose, and Pretty Clothes

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story Deborah! I definitely agree that it takes a personal effort to be positive and happy :)

      Warmest,
      Jess

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  3. So beautiful!!!!!

    www.plogstyle.com

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  4. I really enjoyed your writing, Jess. and I have to say we have a lot in common since I think the same way as you do and often meet the same issues. but I know working and running around all the time isn't the only thing we should do. relaxing and doing the little things that pamper our hearts and souls is so important and we should not forget that.

    Maiken,
    Maikeni blogi - part of me

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    1. I feel like we're similar too Maiken! I agree that we should pamper ourselves, both mentally and physically :)
      xxJess

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  5. Great post, I completely agree about the need to realize where your happiness is truly achieved-- the instant gratification after I get an "A" on a test or score some amazing deals on clothing never lasts longer than a few hours or at most a day. And while we are pushed so hard to achieve high-status jobs, flashy cars, and expensive clothes, none of those things can really bring us true satisfaction. So often I have to stop myself and remember what I truly want to do with my life, which is just as much about the people I love as it is about achieving things. That's why I def want to be more involved in charities or programs that help other people!

    Thanks for sharing these lovely thoughts, good to know something good came out of being wintered-in by the cold spell in NYC! :P

    xx Debbie

    www.whatdoffydoes.com

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    1. Hi Debbie! Loved your comment, especially this sentiment: "So often I have to stop myself and remember what I truly want to do with my life, which is just as much about the people I love as it is about achieving things." Perfectly expresses my thoughts on the matter. Thank you!

      xxJess

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  6. Great post!!:)) Well done!!
    xoxo Melle

    http://melle-loves-fashion.blogspot.de/

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  7. Beautifu wirtten!

    I try to remember the sentence, that I can not control, what happens to me. But I can control how I act and how I feel. I try to see everything in a positive mind. When I am studying for an exam I would love to complain but on the other hand I am happy because I had the opprotunity to go to university :)

    hugs
    Svetlana from Lavender Star

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    1. How sweet! Yes, even attending a university is a privilege, and I'm glad you're able to stay positive even through exams. Thank you for your insightful comment Svetlana!

      xoxo
      Jess

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  8. It's freezing here, too, Jess! I totally agree with you--each of us has the power to decide if we are happy or not. I find giving gratitude often helps me realize how very much I have to be happy about. :) Joy & hugs, T. http://tickledpinkwoman.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Tina, I agree that gratitude keeps things in perspective and helps me feel happy too. Stay warm and thanks for your comment!
      xxJess

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  9. you have such a lovely site!! lets stay in touch..
    Wanna follow each other? do follow me & let me know ^_^
    http://the-glamorous-diva.blogspot.in/

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  10. Hi lovely,
    I totally love these pictures!!Very inspirational
    FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK
    CHIC STREET CHOC

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    1. Thank you! I will tell my friend Taka that you enjoy his photo :)

      xo Jess

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  11. Hi :)
    You have a really nice blog and I follow you :)
    I hope you can follow me back :)
    http://chic-and-everything.blogspot.ro/

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  12. great post - i completely understand both the work side of goals and the stress but feeling of relief happiness of a project being complete.. but overall that is not determining my happiness, sure for some things but really it's the relationships and friends in my life, and even those need work sometime, but have the best and most longlasting outcome for happiness

    -issa
    wewearthings.com

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    1. Hi Issa, I really appreciate your comment and completely agree! Even relationships require work to build and maintain, and often relationships are the most fulfilling bringers of happiness :)
      xo Jess

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  13. what an insightful post Jess! Im always reminding myself that Im in control of my own happiness - its tough and takes practice but its a good brain workout!
    xxCarrie
    www.alittledose.com

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    1. Absolutely--we are in control of our own happiness! Beautifully written, Carrie :)
      Warmest,
      Jess

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  14. Jess, thanks for sharing this wonderful post!! I stand by still to this date, that we should all learn to love ourselves... and not depend on others for happines!! True happiness comes from deep within!!

    xoxo, Mango ❤
    MangoRabbitRabbit's Blog | Valentine's Day Outfit: Elegant & Lovable!

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    1. A great point, Mango! Others can't give you happiness, ultimately it all comes from within like you said :)

      xoxo Jess

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  15. hello dear I am inviting you to join my Oasap Spring Giveaway =) hope you will join hugs
    http://anotsosecretlife2011.blogspot.com/2014/01/oasap-welcome-spring-giveaway.html

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  16. Great post Jessica. We all once in our life have that pursuit of happiness at the back of our minds. I am just happy at the moment with the company of my love ones. All happy, healthy and alive ! Thanks for visiting my blog again and i appreciate your input.

    xo
    Sam
    http://fabulouspetite.blogspot.com

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    1. So true and I agree with you about enjoying the company of our loved ones. I always try to spend time with my parents/grandparents, ask them about their days or Chinese shows they're watching. Thankfully everyone in my family is happy and healthy too. Thank you for your comment--it's a great reminder!

      xoxo Jess

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  17. I love this post! I completely agree with what you've said here. Happiness is something that we must find within ourselves. These outside influences should just enhance our happiness :)

    xo Megan, Lush to Blush

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    1. Thank you for your comment Megan! I agree--outside influences only enhance, and not build, the foundation for our happiness. Beautifully and concisely written dear!
      xx Jess

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  18. well said! Looking forward to more photography posts from you :)
    www.lettersimpromptu.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you Sam! All credit for this photo goes to my friend Takashi--his work is truly incredible :)

      Warmest,
      Jess

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  19. What a great post! I agree with what you said. Happiness is different for everyone and we have to figure out what truly makes us happy for ourselves.

    xo, Yi-chia
    Always Maylee

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  20. Love the quote of John C maxwell, it's so true!
    btw love your picture :D


    WWW.PUTRIVALENTINALIM.BLOGSPOT.COM

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    1. John C. Maxwell's Daily Reader is an excellent book full of insight! My amazing mentor passed it onto me and I highly recommend it :)
      xx Jess

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  21. Great post! And I really love that quote that you posted from Maxwell. Very inspiring and it forced me to look at things from a different perspective. Oftentimes I always complain about things in my life which I have no control over. I guess it's really how I react to situations that can make all the difference.

    http://itsthekyliebabii.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you for your comment and I'm glad you enjoyed Maxwell's quote! Yes, we're all forced to adapt to circumstances that are outside of our control. Maxwell's quote is really powerful in reminding us that our reaction to circumstances makes the ultimate difference. Enjoy the weekend :)

      xo Jess

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  22. Great post ❤️So cool and stylish.
    I love your blog so much! Have a great day :)
    FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK
    CHIC STREET CHOC

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