Happiness on the college campus

It has come to my attention in recent weeks (mostly via the various TCNJ-related Facebook pages) that many people in the TCNJ community are not entirely happy. I’m not sure if this is because they’re bummed out about that recent holiday with the naked cherub, or maybe because midterms are coming soon, or perhaps they’re just upset about the weather.

If students take the time to focus on what makes them happy, and make the bad things seem ridiculous, they will be happier overall. (AP Photo)

For whatever reason, many people here at our school are not currently happy, so I’m here to help. Not that I’m qualified in any way — my only references would be the many people who’ve told me “Be less happy, it’s annoying” during times of duress — but I do have some advice which may help.

My advice is simple, and in two parts: If there is something in your life that is making you unhappy, change it. If there’s a specific event or predicament you aren’t happy about, then find the most ridiculous aspect of that trouble, and laugh about it.

Radical concepts, I know.

And I’m well aware of the cries which must be echoing through the halls right now. “I can’t just change this problem or that, you don’t understand!” is intermixing with “Yeah, yeah, find the silver linings, haven’t heard that one before. How stupid is this guy?” Only here’s what I’ve learned in my journey through this strange, frustrating and wonderful thing we call life: Nothing is out of our reach as individuals.

And absolutely everything can be funny if you look at it the right way.

The keys to happiness, as it turns out, are in your hands, sad person reading along right now. The idea is that most people in this world know what makes them happy. It’s just that most of us don’treally focus on it too much.

This is where the “change” part of my advice kicks in.

If there is something in your life which makes you unhappy on a regular basis, then do whatever you can to change it. Unhappy in a relationship? End it, or at least tell the person they’re making you feel unhappy. Don’t like your courses? Ask yourself if you’re in the right major, and change it if you aren’t. Not sure you belong at TCNJ at all? Then look into transferring, or dropping out and pursuing whatever it is you love to do (aslong as it’s, you know, legal).

I know, there are alarm bells ringing in your head right now. “I can’t just change big stuff like that, it’s crazy!” I’m going to tell you something right now, so you may want to hold onto something because it’s a biggie.

You are in COLLEGE. For heaven’s sake, this is the time of our lives when we’re SUPPOSED to be crazy! College is all about finding what you want to get out of life, so don’t be so concerned with what other people may think. So long as you’re doing what makes you happy, forget about them, they aren’t as important as you.

Now for the second part of my advice — namely making the bad seem ridiculous and funny instead. That’s definitely an individualized solution, as every problem is unique. But trust me when I say that everything, and by that I mean everything, has a funny side somewhere. You just have to find it and focus on it. You know what makes you laugh far better than I do, clearly, so just take a second and think about something that’s troublingyou. Now blow one part of it way out of proportion (I’m talking Mt. Everest out of an anthill here), and focus on that now-absurd part. It’s funnynow, that problem, isn’t it?

Now the only problem you’re having with buying my pitch is that I haven’t “Been there” so I “Don’t know” what you’re going through. Allow me to reassure you: I’ve gone through just about every problem. Being alone, losing a loved one, having bad luck in general, having your life changed by an injury that won’t ever go away, feeling like you just don’t belong where you are, wishing that you could just go back and change things. I’ve done it all, and came out smiling on the other side. How? By focusing on what makes me happy.

I’m not special, everyone can do it. It’s a choice you have to make, to forget about the world and do what’s right for you.

Trust me, as someone who’s been there — the decision is totally worth it.