A year ago today I was sitting in the middle of a dimly lit hallway, bundled up in a blanket, attempting to finish a final paper. My battery power dwindled low as the computer made its way into power saver mode. I sat next to a blender and a powerstrip, down the hall I could see a group of guys cooking hot dogs in a toaster oven. Not your typical, run of the mill finals week. One year ago an ice storm devastated the city of Worcester and left us without power for four full days, and half our finals weekend. Today I am lucky enough to be sitting snug in a library (done with finals might I mention). But I look back and think "Wow, a lot has really changed since then."

The biggest difference between then and now? Simple. I am happy now.

How did I learn to be happy in the last 365 days? Did it just spring up one day out of nowhere, did a Monday roll around and tote happiness along with it? To be honest, I think I adjusted the way I was thinking and came to one huge realization. This is my life.

We treat happiness like it is a luxury, like we would only be so lucky to have it. We treat happiness like it is an event, "once I finish this THEN I will be happy," "Once I turn 21, THEN I will be happy." We treat happiness like a stranger, questioning why it is that a smile is coming across our face or why we feel contented with the moment. We analyze, scrutinize and dissect happiness when really it is not meant to be thought about, just felt.

Last year I was not doing anything to make myself happy. I was hindering myself thinking that I had to get through the hard stuff to eventually get to the good stuff. That mentality does not get us anywhere. That mentality pushes us to believe that we have all these days stacked up and available to waste when really tomorrow is not even a guarantee.

If one is not happy then they should be stopping to ask why. They should not stay fixated on this idea of pushing forward, keeping moving, when they are no finding no purpose in it. Sure we can all tap dance through life, but does it really mean anything if there is no rhythm in our step and no purpose to our shoeing? We deserve to have happiness in everything that we do. Of course life is hard and some days we just will not be feeling it, but that does not mean that we are at a loss for happiness, there is just a cloud hovering over our otherwise sunny day.

Somewhere amidst the 365 days that separate my unhappy days from my now happy days, I took control of my life. I decided that I was number one and that if I found out what I wanted to do first then the rest would just follow.

Someone very close to me approached me one day at the beginning of the semester. I was sitting at a table working on applications for service but also questioning whether I should pursue graduate schooling. I don't think I am called to do graduate school at this point in time but I was feeling the pressures of others, the mounting expectations and the little voices in my ears to do what was practical and in line with "the plan."

He sat with me for a few moments, took the notebook that I had been working from and the pencil that I was writing with and scrawled a few words across the top of the paper. "Think about numero uno," the best possible way for him to tell me to think about myself. Obviously not in an egotistical manner, but to put myself at the forefront instead of in the backdrop.

I am pretty important. You are pretty important as well. We all are. And when start to realize this and take it into account every single day then happiness becomes easier, more attainable. This mindset allows us to see that we deserve happiness. We deserve to smile and mean it. We deserve to see ourselves as important and our purpose in life as radiate. The next step is fulfilling that purpose and scooping up the happiness that piles in the process.

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