dancing with happiness

I love dancing. There’s something liberating about moving your body to the rhythm of a beat. It makes me forget about everything other than what’s on the dance floor, and sometimes I forget about that too. I’m never afraid to dance, it’s been a part of my life since I was young. I used to do Russian dance classes every Friday after school, and it was one of my fondest memories. However, the part I’m usually afraid of is asking a girl to dance with me. It’s silly. I know dancing with me is fun, because it’s the kind of activity where fun is contagious. If you’re enjoying yourself, the other person will probably have a good time too, regardless of your actual performance (everyone likes to laugh at a clumsy oaf, especially if the oaf finds it funny too). Still, I can’t help but feel the tight squeezing in my stomach, the run on thoughts in my head, and the gradual fatigue brought on by extended nervousness. The fear of being rejected, or not being good enough, is cliché. It’s something a lot of us have in common. The situations that we fear being rejected in might be different, but the underlying feeling is the same. From my personal experience, it usually arises in regard to something I think I’m good at. It’s scary having a specific idea of yourself changed. Out of anyone, we spend the most time with ourselves, and if your idea of who you are or what you’re good at isn’t true, what else isn’t true about you? Do you even really know yourself?

What I’ve learned from my 21 years of living, is that I don’t. But there is nothing wrong with that. People dedicate their lives to studying one specific topic in one area and they will still always have more to learn. You might think: “We have just evolved to eat, sleep, and reproduce. We’re not exactly rocket science!”. Well, the average person has about 90 trillion microbes living inside of them. The average person has 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day. The average person meets 80,000 people in a lifetime. These numbers are pulled from various non-reputable sources, and as a soon to be engineer that makes me cringe, but I’m using them to highlight the number of different variables that interact and intertwine to makeup you, rather than a point in statistics. Unlike the laws of physics, you’re going to learn, interact, win, lose, laugh, cry, and many other things that will change you on daily basis. It’s impossible to keep up with everything, so why not just stick to the basics?

What makes you happy? That’s probably one of the simplest questions with the most complicated answer. Let’s say providing for your family is what floats your boat, but you hate doing the job that makes that possible. Are you really happy? Maybe, maybe not. Personally, I wouldn’t be. I love my dad (even though I find his false promises to be extremely annoying), and one of the things I respect most about him is that he never spent a long time doing something that didn’t make him happy, regardless of how it affected his family. Some people might say that sounds like a bad dad, and to that I say, shut your mouth. If you don’t have to deal with shit, you’re not eating right. If I didn’t have a slightly tumultuous childhood, I don’t think I would be an interesting adult. I learned things about myself and life that could only be understood through experience. One of which was that it’s easier to get through something that sucks if you’re happy, compared to being sad.

So how do we find happiness? I like the fact that you “find happiness”, because that’s exactly what you do. Happiness doesn’t just come to you, it’s something you actively search for. You have to know what makes you happy. It seems obvious, but how often do you actually think about if something makes you happy? How often do you reflect on the things you do? How often do your experiences just fade away without being processed? If you’re looking for a treasure, you’re going to have to do an investigation. You’re not just going to guess where to dig.

Keeping track of what makes you happy is hard; you’re usually too happy in the moment to think about it, and later you get caught up in other things that make you forget about it. But really, the activities that make you happy are just catalysts for the transition into the happy state of mind. Happiness is something we can choose to feel in any situation, regardless of how dire it seems. There is always something to be happy about or grateful for. Sometimes it’s hard, because we get bogged down by things that are happening in our lives that make us forget about being happy. These are just distractions along the path towards living a happy and full life.

If we can choose to be happy, why aren’t we happy all the time? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe during caveman times, being too happy too often got too many people killed. If you’re happy, you’re more likely to take a risk, and most risks back then had lethal consequences. So paranoia and fear were created to protect us. Now this paranoia and fear makes us overthink bad situations, trapping us in a loop of negative thoughts. How do we break this loop? By getting to know ourselves.

I know I love dancing. It’s something that always makes me happy. Except when it doesn’t, like when I feel the anxiety of asking a girl to dance. But that pisses me off. I don’t like having something that makes me happy be degraded by fear, and it’s that knowledge that motivates me to just do it. Last time I did, the girl said no, but I still felt my body relax. For how much I dislike that fear and its accompanying feelings, they always remind me that if you push yourself in the process, failure isn’t bad. I could’ve kept dancing and been happy, but overcoming a fear is something I love even more than dancing.

Finding happiness is like dancing; you’re always going to have to lead and you might fall flat on your face doing it, but as long as you’re having fun you’re doing it right.