Know what makes you happy: Some thoughts on awareness


It’s eating disorder awareness month. So, in the last few days of the month, I am writing.

No, I don’t have an eating disorder. But honestly, that probably makes it all the more important that I do stand up as an advocate for a healthier outlook on something.

I cannot personally relate to the topic of an eating disorder. However, I am writing about something I can relate to, something that is related, but not the same. Emotional self-awareness.

Everyone has days when they can find nothing to smile about. When they feel like the world is falling apart.

And to them, it really might feel like the world is crashing down around them.

Others might try and find ways to cheer them up, by using the same things that make them smile.

But often, it doesn’t work.

The simple truth is: Everyone has something that can make them smile, no matter what. The trick is finding it. The reason why it’s different for everyone? Everyone is different.

I asked several people I know what makes them smile.

The answers were incredibly diverse. One person said that a cute animal always does the trick. Someone else said that lame puns work for them.
I think that my favorite of these was also the fastest reply I got.

“If anyone else smiles at me. I smile back, and smiling makes me feel better. It’s reflexive.”

I find it to be incredibly important that we all know what affects us in a positive way. If you have never taken the time to identify something that can lift your spirits,then every time you’re feeling down, you’ll end up using the guess-and-check method to try and help yourself out.

It’s not healthy.

Before I started asking this question, I hadn’t put much thought into it, myself.

And I realized that that’s probably part of the reason it’s so easy to send me into an emotional tailspin, every time I get stressed out.

I’m a perfectionist. I like everything to be working smoothly, every time. And when it’s not… I spiral. I am more than capable of taking a mild annoyance and then mentally turning it into THE END OF THE WORLD OH GOD OH GOD WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE. And I’m not the only person I know who does that. In fact, I’m friends with a whole lot of people who do that exact thing to themselves.

We’ve all gotten really good at pulling each other up out of the messes we create, which is why the one thing that can always help me calm down and just think fora minute, instead of panicking is a friend. It can be a little message icon on my phone. It can be a Snapchat. Sometimes it’s a two-hour long therapeutic talk over Skype or over the phone, if I haven’t seen the friend in a long time. I’ve called people for this one, and I’ve been called. I’ve stayed up past midnight to help out a friend when she was freaking out, thanks to a large time-zone difference, and I’ve done it more than once. I won’t drop everything to pick up the phone, but for some people, I will drop a lot of things.

And, because of the way that m   y friends and I help I asked another question as a follow-up to the first one. I asked what they do to cheer up someone who they don’t know. If they saw someone crying, or even just looking really miserable, but didn’t know them at all.

Some people told me that they wouldn’t do anything. I can understand that well enough—assuming that someone sitting alone wants to stay alone, or even just needing to be somewhere, and therefore not stopping in the middle of a busy day.

Others told me that they would go and get that person’s friends, if they knew who they were. That was a popular answer.

But there were a few answers that really stood out.

One person told me that he would stop and try to make friends with that person, find something that they had in common so that he could bring humor into the situation.

Someone else said that she would just give them a cookie.

One of my musically-talented friends mentioned that she might serenade them.

Another response was just to run up and hug the person (this particular person also ran up and hugged me, to demonstrate, when I asked him).

It all comes back to awareness.

If we are aware of our own emotions, if we know that we can build up our own confidence to pull ourselves up when we fall down, we can overcome a lot.

Maybe we can’t overcome disorders or mental health issues.

But we can help ourselves reach the point where we’re a little closer. And maybe we can help other people get there too.

My mom has a rule in life. “Do what makes you happy.”

And she’s right. Happiness is key. I have a slight amendment to that rule: “Know what makes you happy.”

Wallowing in stress, and spiraling, the way that I have done from time to time? That’s not a good thing. But having a way to prevent it before it happens, or a way to help your defeated self to your feet when it’s all over? That very much is.

In the ends it’s important to remember: It might not feel like it, but in the end, it will be okay.

What makes you smile?




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