The Essentials to Happiness
by Alexandra Shuman
As a child, I was generally happy, singing and dancing to my favorite songs, smiling and laughing with my friends and family. But as far back as second grade, I noticed a “darkness” about me. I didn’t enjoy engaging in many things. I didn’t 1)relate to my peers in 2)elementary school because they appeared so happy, and I didn’t have that ability to achieve happiness so easily.
In middle school things in my life began to get even worse. I began 3)withdrawing from everything I once enjoyed—swimming, tennis, family. I hated going to sleep knowing I had to wake up to another day. I was always tired. Everything was horrible. Finally, 4)midway through eighth grade, I was told I had a chemical 5)imbalance, 6)diagnosed with 7)clinical depression, and put on 8)medication. It took months for me to feel the effects of the medication.
When I began to feel happy again is when I realized that I had to take the responsibility for getting better myself, rather than relying on medication and 9)therapy alone. Aristotle注1 said, “To live happily is an 10)inward power of the soul,” and I believe that this 11)quote 12)describes what I had to do to achieve happiness. Happiness is a journey. Everyone seems to need different things to be happy. But I believe people are blinded from what truly makes one happy.
Growing up, we’re encouraged to be successful in life, but how is success 13)defined? Success and happiness are imagined now as having a lot of money. It is so untrue. Recently I went to Costa Rica注2 and visited the small town of El Roble注3. I spent the day with a nine-year-old girl named Marilyn. She took me to her house to meet her parents. It was obvious that they were not rich, living in a small house with seven children. The house was 14)cluttered but full of life. Those who have decided that success and happiness come from having money and a big house would be 15)appalled at how 16)utterly happy this family from El Roble is. People say that seeing things simply makes you appreciate what you have, but for me, it made me envy them for being so happy without all the things I have.
“The essentials to happiness are something to love, something to do, and something to hope for,” a quote from William Blake注4 sums up what I believe people need to realize to be truly happy in life. People need love; I feel they need their family and their friends more than anything in the world. People need work to do, something to make them feel they are making a difference in the world. People need to know that more good is to come in the future, so they continue to live for “now” instead of 17)constantly worrying about the bad that could come. And most importantly, people need to know that happiness is not something that happens 18)overnight. Love and hope are happiness.