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This is part one of a two part piece. I know that some people aren’t as fortunate as I am in the way of happiness. We can sit and try to figure out why, but I’d rather focus on the happier side of things.

I wish that I could make everyone happy, but I can’t. At some point along the line, I realized that you have to be happy first. It’s like when you’re in an airplane, and they tell you to secure your oxygen mask first, before helping others.

That’s how I try to live my life. In the past, I’ve made others a priority. In some skewed thought, I believed that if I could just make one person happy, then we’d all be happy (it’s actually more in depth than that, but I don’t think I thought it, so much as I behaved this way. I have examples, but I’m the furthest thing from a martyr).

Of course, this failed, and I tried harder. This process continued until I grew tired. You’ll eventually stop knocking if someone doesn’t let you in. Sure, you try round about ways (I’ve been known to grab a ladder, scale to the sixth floor, and try the window), but the door is locked for a reason.

My life mission isn’t to figure people out (it’s more of a hobby when I have down time and care—so, as of late, it’s not at all a priority).

People always say that you should work on yourself and love yourself. I mean this in the least narcissistic way, I love myself. It’s a rare occurrence when I don’t. So, to anyone that’s told me to work on myself, I’d like to take a moment of silence. You wasted your breath. I better myself every day, thanks.

I don’t really know what makes other people tick or tock. Likewise, I don’t know what makes another person happy. Some people love attention, some loathe it, some people are materialistic and need possessions, and others just need time alone or with someone they love.

When something makes me happy, or contributes to my happiness, I make a note of it. Below is a list of things that make me happy. I don’t know if it’ll resonate with anyone else, but I hope everyone has a list of things that make them happy, too.

1. My biggest fan, best friend, true love of my life, running partner—Mogli. Almost every moment spent with him makes me happy. There are the moments when he cries uncontrollably (in public), and I’d like to rip out my hair, but he’s still my buddy. Not everyone has witnessed him in the comforts of our home, but I implore you to. He wakes up, stretches his long body across my legs and then burrows his way under the blankets, crawls to my feet, crawls up to my arms and somehow manages to be under my arms and looks at me with his bright brown eyes. I could give you ten examples of why he’s my favorite creature, but I won’t. I’m happy he’s in my life, and I couldn’t picture my life without him.

2. Cooking and baking. I’ve never been the greatest cook, and I’ve always been bored watching my mom do it, but I’ve gotten into it. I like taking ingredients I’ve never heard of, plopping them into my dish and being surprised. As a pessimist, I expect half of my concoctions to blow up in my face. Unlike some things in my life, cooking has yet to blow up in my face. I love the smell of my kitchen permeating the rest of the house. I love the fact that I have deliciousness to devour all week. I love that it’s healthy, and I’m happy.

3. My friends. I have few friends, but they mean the world to me. Two of my best friends don’t even live here (anymore), but distance only reinforces how much they mean to me. We talk nearly every day, via phone, facebook, or text. I always feel better hearing from and spending time with them. Even the times we’ve been unhappy, we were unhappy together, and we got through it. I always fast forward to the day I someday get married, and I know that even though my family is tiny, I’d have five friends that would be there. I can’t stress enough how much I love them, and I’m really glad we met (even if a couple were met in the most bizarre ways). I’m happier, and I’m a better person having met them.

4. The ocean. I love going to the beach, leaving my feet in the sand, and looking out at the sea. I need very few things in life. The sea is one I cannot compromise on. Someday, I will live near it. If I don’t permanently live there, I’ll have a beach house, for sure. I love swimming, I love floating, I love bodysurfing, and I love being in the water. I’m happiest in the ocean. I realize it, because every time I go, I think of nothing but the present moment. After I’m out, I lay out and it still feels like I’m swimming. It’s a nice feeling. I guess I could incorporate all bodies of water, because I like being near streams and rivers, as well. It’s safe to say I’m a mermaid.

5. Music. I don’t play nearly as often as I could, but I love music. I love that I create playlists. I love that other people have enjoyed them. I love when someone loves music as deeply as I do. It’s hard to explain, and I think you’ll only understand this one if you feel it as passionately about it as I do. I joke and dance to some songs, but I need music. There’s a song for every feeling I’ve ever felt. There’s a song for things I’ve never felt. I love the people that create music. It’s a feeling I’ll never lose. I have a playlist of songs that I believe were made for me. I know they weren’t really made for me. I just mean, they’re my songs. They mean more to me than most things. 🙂

6. Running. I don’t run as much because of the heat, but once the temperature drops a little, I will run every other day at the park. The park is just over 3 miles and around the river. I love it. I love running it. I love when I finish running it, I get to walk to my car and reflect on it. I don’t know how to verbalize the feeling, but I’m happy I started running two years ago. I know I started to tone up, but now I don’t do any exercises for vanity. I run, because I’m happy when I’m finished. I do some barebones yoga, because I feel stronger. There’s something about reaching your limits and pushing beyond them. It’s a slow and long process, but I think the things that are worth it in the end, are the ones that take time and patience.

7. Traveling. I’m going to France in Mid-September. I was going to go to Romania, but I’ve been there, and I was born there. I’d like to go elsewhere. I’d love to see Fiji and Thailand, but I’ll wait on those. I don’t have a partner in crime yet, and I’d like to save that. Plus, I’m not a solo traveler. I like to get lost together. I do love to feel out of my element, though. I like it, because I know it’s touch-and-go. I know that I’ll never see these people again. I know I’ll never have the exact moments again. I like it. I know that’s life in general, but there’s something about travel that brings it out in me. I soak it up. I may be quiet, but my heart and mind are hard at work.

8. How I Met Your Mother. Okay, let me explain. This show makes me happy for several reasons. First, Ted is in search of his soul mate. We could stop there, but I’ll go on. I don’t like the whole dating tons of people approach (I feel like this is the mentality of our generation, though) until he finds his woman. I think he should have had standards that people do or don’t meet, and either spend time with them or don’t. I guess I have a pretty traditional view of relationships, though. Do I suddenly sound like I’m sitting on a high horse? I do, don’t I? That’s because I’m passionate about this. It was recently explained to me that I get defensive when I’m passionate about things. More on this later. Secondly, I love the dynamic of Lily and Marshall. Third, I love that it makes me laugh. I love that there are running jokes throughout the seasons. Finally, I love that things don’t work out. It’s happier than real life, but not everything turns out the way you once thought (or hoped). I think sometimes what we want in life is just an illusion. I think that after a time, you’ll realize that things happen for a reason. I know it goes against my fate idea, but it makes sense. I’d elaborate, but I’ll keep this to myself.

9. Writing. I love to write for various reasons. The first reason is because I don’t relate to a lot of people, books, or movies. I’m not a super secret spy that’s engaged to a sexy, super secret spy who also has a penchant for long-haired brunettes (namely, me). I know, but let me go on. I’m also not in silicon valley and creating mini robots. What? The books I read vary, and I think that’s what makes me unique (hey, we’re all unique). So, what can I write about? Anything and everything. I’ve heard that you can tell a lot about a person by how they write. I wish someone would tell me what they thought of me from my writing. I’ve written a few terribly tragic pieces, but I’m not a masochist. I’ve written a love story, but I can assure you I’ve never been courted in the way my protagonist has been. Does writing reflect our desires? I think if you can read between the lines, you can tell a lot about a person, but I think people get caught up on the big picture. So, yes, I love to write, because I live in my own world on the reg. My characters are part real and part fiction. You can find yourself among them if you look hard enough (and I know you/had a profound impact on me [pretty slim chance]). I like to write, because I’m an escapist. The real world is often disappointing and dull. People aren’t as passionate and intense as I think they should be.

10. Driving. I love to drive. I love going places I’ve never been before. This goes hand in hand with traveling. I love road trips. I love pumping my own gas. I love singing. I love listening to my playlists. I love seeing new license plates. I love the music on max and my windows down. I love my hand out the window. I love being in my car. Likewise, if I feel safe with a driver (super rare), I like to be a passenger. I love to enjoy the scenery without having to watch the road sometimes. I like watching the moon. I like knowing someone else is in control (that I trust [again, this is hard to come by]).

11. Meaningful conversations with meaningful people. I abhor small talk, which is why my list of acquaintances is short. I do, however, love meaningful and and intense conversations with some people. If we’re on the same page, the little kid in me is clapping inside. “YES!” she sings. It’s rare, but those conversations make my day. When people make an effort, that’s appreciated. I’d phrase this better, but I’m happy with it.

So, these are things that make me happy. I hope that someone can read this and pick something out they’ve never done before. I hope that thing makes them happy.

I realize that happiness is a solo activity. It’s a personal thing. It’s nice to have someone that contributes to your happiness and that you can make happy, too. I don’t think it’s necessary. I think if you can be happy with minimal, you are on the right path.

Where the path leads is completely beyond me, but I know I’m on my way. I may be small, but I’m a determined gal. You can only get what you want by asking for it and making a way for it.

I’ve doubted things before, but more and more I realize that the future is in your hands.

As Jane Austen says, “It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”

Always do. Always.