I’m a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin. You may have noticed this already.
I really got to thinking about some of the points Rubin brings up in The Happiness Project the other evening. After spending a day full of catching up with friends, I took some time to myself (and the music on my iPhone) to take a late-night walk around my new neighborhood.
While on my walk, I saw some typical Madison sights. Young men playing with a light-up Frisbee. Friends sitting on porch stoops with cheap lager in their hands. Couples out walking, hand-in-hand, with a dog on a leash. Everything seemed so magical, and peaceful, that night.
I took my walk in awe. I listened to my music and watched the hum of people around me. I was feeling so blissfully happy in that moment, it is hard to really explain the great feeling I possessed in that moment.
As I walked, I started to get into the groove of the music. Dancing a little here and there. Of course, I was thinking no one was really paying much attention to me. I couldn’t be further from the truth. Just as I was strutting a bit to Daft Punk, a car parked on the side of the road turned over its engine and the headlights went on. I was caught in the act of dancing and making a fool of myself, but I could not find any part of me to care.
After my walk, I went to the park a block away from my house. I walked over to the swings and sat down. It had been years since the last time I played on playground equipment, and with the weather so nice, I sat down and started pumping my legs. Within a few moments, my swing was gliding through the air higher than I had expected it to. I sat on the swing for over an hour, thinking about the joy that had recently come to my life and the hard work I had accomplished in the recent past.
I could feel the joy radiating off of my body. I had the largest grin on my face, which was thankfully hidden in the darkness. I could not stop the toothy smile from creeping across my face; it was wonderful and perfect.
All the time I was swinging, I was thinking of Gretchen and her theory of your happiness. What made you happy when you were ten-years-old will probably be the same thing that will make you happy throughout your life. In all honesty, not much has truly changed about myself in the past fifteen years. Yes, I have matured. Yes, I listen to different music. Yes, I have a new pair of glasses.
But in the end, the things I am most passionate about are the same. I could not live in a world without reading. I still want to work in librarianship. I cannot not dance to music. I love wearing ugly flannel shirts over graphic t-shirts. And, most of all, I love spending a starry night sitting under a tree, swinging away at a park.
There is a large part of me that romanticizes the idea of parks. I went on a fantastic late-night date with a now ex-boyfriend at a park where we sat on a park swing and talked for hours. I have always dreamt of getting photos taken on a park swing — which I somehow didn’t for my high school senior photos. I had one of the best days in my high school career sitting on the middle school swing set with some of my closest friends one afternoon in the final weeks of our senior year. There is probably something to be said of my connection to working for a Parks and Recreation Department for four years, and even after that time volunteering to be on the Parks Department City Council committee.
I still love the same things I did when I was ten, and those are the things that make me happiest in life. I’m so thankful to be living less than a block away from a place of such happiness, and will try to cherish it as much as I can this summer.