Happiness in College

Its not surprising that many students in college are unhappy. College can be a very difficult time in the lives of students as they have to figure out what kind of people they want to associate with, what major they want to choose, and even what they want to do when they grow up. Constant parental pressure always affects their decision-making and their future success is always framed in terms of power, prestige, and money.

However happiness never seems to be part of the equation. Happiness is something that is always put on the side, something that can be attained later. It is even seen as something quite childish, as children strive for happiness while adults strive for authority and respect.

Happiness is always seen as a destination or goal in life rather than something than can be attained in the present. How many times have you heard from your parents that as long as you suffer a bit now, you can definitely be happy later? Although this statement has some truth as studying hard in school can be tough, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be miserable while in school and studying. However we shouldn’t be confused to think that it is acceptable to simply suck away all of our life’s passion while we are young in lieu of studying.

We must quit having this mentality that we can sacrifice our own self-happiness in the present to be happy in the future. It simply doesn’t work that way. It is a destructive cycle in which we constantly always put work in front of our own happiness and always push happiness further and further away.

Let’s say that you finally do get that great job that you have been working your tail off for. Now do you truly give yourself the time and energy to be happy? Or do you continue to strive to get more promotions with higher pay and position? Happiness thus continues to get further pushed away and when we are lying on our death beds, we wonder why we never felt fully satisfied with life.

We must concentrate on being happy now. The key to happiness is to live a balanced life that stresses both work and self-enjoyment at the same time. Neither is inherently more important than the other. They are both important equally in their own respectable ways. But think about all the times that we easily let work take over our own personal enjoyment and happiness. Think about all the times that you pushed away your friends in order in the name of school or work. Think about that one time that you had to miss your good friend’s birthday party because you had a midterm or a final to study for.

As important as school and work is, it is not more important than your friends or family. Are those two hours that you spend at your friend’s birthday truly going to change the outcome of your test by an entire letter grade? When you say that you are going to dedicate an entire day to studying and nothing else, do you truly spend the entire day studying? Or do you find yourself getting distracted and going on Facebook for hours on end anyways?

We must seek balance in our lives and see personal happiness as important as everything else in our college lives. Make time to meet your friends regardless of how busy you are. People always make the excuse that “I am too busy.” That is a load of crap. Anybody can make time if they truly put their minds to it and prioritize it. Make time to pick up that one instrument, sport, or art you have been meaning to start. Make time to check out that club that you’ve been interested in.

When you look back on your college experiences and reflect, are you going to remember that one final you aced or the time spent with your friends and loved ones?

So remember, there is no reason why you can’t be happy now. Happiness is available right in front of our faces; it is simply a matter of whether we want to make ourselves available to it.


The importance of sleep

Today we live in a very sleep-deprived society. Sleep is often pushed to the side in favor of “getting things done” and we often stay up all night finishing studying or working. It almost seems that nowadays sleep is seen as optional rather than a necessity.

I definitely know in the college scene, sleeping more than 6 hours a night is unheard of. When people hear that I sleep about 8 hours a night, they often look at me with suspicion and confusion. They ask me “how do you get so much sleep a night?” or “how do you get enough time to get things done?”

Often times people believe that you can only get sleep if you aren’t busy. But I am just as busy as any other student by working 20 hours a week, being active in my Korean Catholic fellowship, teaching Sunday School to High School students, exercising regularly, taking photographs, writing, while taking 4 classes.

So how do I find enough time to get everything yet still average 8 hours a night? Easy. I make sleep a priority in my life.

When I get enough sleep, I am more energetic, productive, and happy. I wake up feeling full of energy and ready to seize the day. And when I have to study or get things done, my brain is fresh and ready to get work done. On the other hand, when I am tired I can’t get anything done. The entire day I feel miserable and when I try to study nothing absorbs.

I often hear my peers having to stay up late or pull all-nighters to finish their assignments. I understand that sometimes unexpected things occur in which we have no choice but to pull an all-nighter, but the majority of the time we are just wasting time when we stay up like chatting or being on facebook.

When we are sleep-deprived the work that we can do when we are well-rested in an hour can take twice or even three times that long. Sometimes when we are sleep-deprived, we can’t absorb any information at all.

We also feel miserable when we don’t get enough sleep. How can we enjoy life when we constantly feel fatigued and like we’re going to fall asleep?

Some easy ways to get more sleep:

1. Reprioritize your life

What is truly important in your life? Anything that isn’t, cut it out. I used to love playing computer games and would stay up all night playing them but I get so much more sleep after I have cut that bad habit.

2. Exercise regularly

I know a lot of you guys out there have insomnia and feel restless when you get to bed. Regular exercise can cure that problem. By getting good workouts daily, we expend all that extra energy we have cooped up in our bodies which tires us out when it is time to sleep at night. It can also make us happier, because when we exercise our body release natural endorphins which make our body feel good

3. Set a regular sleeping schedule

We can’t expect to get regular sleep if we sleep at 10pm one night and at 3:00am the next. Set a certain time for going to sleep (mine is 11pm) and try to get to bed 30 minutes before. So when I see the clock at 10:30PM I shut off my computer, brush my teeth, and hit the sack. By having a regular sleep schedule, our bodies will know when to go to sleep and will thus become naturally tired at that certain time.

4. Make sleep a priority

I said this is my secret to getting enough sleep and it could be yours too. Realize that you can’t just put off sleep and expect that your body is going to be okay. Try to get all your work done early, so you can get enough sleep at night. Realize how much more productive and happy you are when you get enough sleep, which will compell you to get more sleep.

5. Look forward to the next day

Whenever I go to sleep, I am always excited for the next day. The feeling of waking up to the sun, getting my morning workout and the refreshing shower afterwards. I look forward to the people that I am going to see the next day and the new experiences I am going to encounter. When you thrive off life, going to sleep early will help the next day come sooner.

So hopefully these tips help out! So don’t stay up on Facebook all night stalking that one cute girl you met at the party or watching those Gossip Girl reruns. Go to your beds, they are calling for you.

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand

There is a happiness paradox nowadays. Life has gotten much better for people in terms of convenience, technology, and general standard of living, but people aren’t any happier than people from 50 years ago. This is quite a conundrum. Wouldn’t it be natural that people should be getting happier if their lives are getting better on a scale?

On average, people are living longer, healthier, with having more luxuries. Fifty years ago it was rare for a family to have two cars, but now it is a given. The average age of living is now around 80 years old, while around 50 years ago it was 60. With the internet everything is so much more convenient; 50 years ago nobody would have imagined that you could pay your bills or even order groceries online.

So if we are living longer, healthier, and more conveniently, why aren’t we living happier lives? The answer lies somewhere in human nature as well as society. As humans, it is difficult to ever be truly satisfied which may be rooted in our primal sense of “survival of the fittest.” However at the same time, society promotes the “dog eat dog” mentality which makes us to always want more and never be satisfied with what we have. If we have a car, we will want to have two. If we have two, we might want to add a third. If we have three, we might want to have a motorcycle on the side.

In Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture” that he gave when he was dying of a terminal illness, he stressed the idea of working with what we have and in his most memorable quotes said: “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” This quote has many meanings, one of them being that we should be satisfied with what we have, and make the best out of it.

Now I’m not saying to achieve anything in life and to lose all sorts of inspiration, but just not to become frustrated when your neighbor drives a BMW and you drive a Toyota. Materialistic goods never bring happiness or satisfaction. The feeling we get when we buy something new or expensive is a fleeting one. It is gone here for a second and gone the next.

I remember when I was 9 years old, my biggest dream in the world was to have this RC car which could drive itself even when flipped over. Flashy commercials with the RC car doing flips off stairs, driving in the dirt and water, and doing spins tempted me so badly. I wanted more than anything to get this car, and I decided that once I got it that I would be satisfied for the rest of my life. Therefore for my 10th birthday, I begged and pleaded with my mom and told her that this was the last toy that she would ever have to buy me. She shook her head and tried to talk some sense into me, but I refused to listen.

On the fateful day that I finally got the car, I was the most excited kid in the whole wide world. It was an exhilarating feeling tearing open the box and taking out my new toy. However after a few hours of playing with it, the appeal quickly wore off and I remember being shocked of how quickly I got bored by it. I then had a small epiphany as a child how material things couldn’t truly bring lasting happiness.

As elementary as this example is, I feel that it is an effective one. Even though we may look at children and say that they are foolish for wanting to have such useless toys, we could easily look at adults who buy even more expensive “toys” such as designer purses or expensive cars. Sometimes when people feel depressed they try to cure themselves with “retail therapy” by buying expensive things to make themselves feel better. However it never brings satisfaction, but rather wanting newer, better, and more trendy things.

Therefore we must learn how to stay away from material things, and be truly satisfied with the small and personal things that we have in our lives that we might often take for granted such as friendships. At times we forget how precious friends are that we often push away friends in lieu of work or even studying. Sure that extra hour at work or studying may earn us a few more bucks or even help us a little on our test the next day, but think about how much more precious that extra hour would be with our friends.

So to truly be happy in life, really count the blessings that you already have in your life. We are often distracted by what we don’t have which blinds us from what we already have in front of our eyes. The only way we truly realize how valuable something is until we lose it. For example, I always took my health for granted until I damaged my knee during a basketball game which put me in crutches for almost two months. During those two months just getting from point A to point B was a chore, and I remember looking with envy at people who had perfectly good legs who just took them for granted.

Being happy in life is not a goal or destination; it is a process. People often tell themselves that once they have that Mercedes or that 3-bedroom house with the white picket fence that they will be happy in life. And guess what? Once they get that fancy car or that big house they still feel empty which makes them constantly chase for bigger, better, and more expensive things. There is no reason why we can’t strive to be happy RIGHT NOW than later. Why make ourselves miserable in our everyday lives just to say that we will strive to be happy once we finish school or get that top-paying job?

I have many friends who often put schoolwork over their own personal happiness. They always tell me that by secluding themselves from their friends and from social events, that they will succeed and go to a top-school, where they will get a high-paying job from when they can start having “real fun.” But the sad fact is people with this type of mentality never end up being happy, because they will always have the mindset of putting work above everything else. One day they might get that high-paying job, but when they get that they will find another distraction. Working even harder to get that raise or that higher position.

I am not advocating just having fun and putting away all of life’s responsibilities. I am just stressing the fact that we must balance our lives and value our own personal happiness and well-being at the same level of school, work, and our responsibilities.

So really try to live in the present and value the things that we already have rather than we don’t have. Sure other people might be richer, taller, or better looking than us, but that shouldn’t distract us from all the other blessings we might have like our talents, passions, friends and family.  And really try to put happiness as one of the NECESSITIES in our lives, not something that are frivolous and unnecessary. And once we can learn how to focus on what we have we have than what we don’t have, we can truly be happy.