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Fork in the Road: Happiness is... [insert appropriate cliché here]

Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Opinion | April 14th, 2014

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
I grew up in the west end of the city. The crime rate consisted of the occasional deer “trespassing” across my lawn. I never had to wear earplugs to block out the sounds of city traffic late at night so that I could fall asleep. I could go for walks comfortably around town without ever believing for a moment I was at risk of being mugged.

When the adult me reflects back on my upbringing; the term “safe” (albeit “sheltered”) comes to mind. These days, when I now go back and visit my father's place, I am consistently (and pleasantly) shocked by the sense of serenity, peace (and quiet!) that seems to permeate the entire neighbourhood. The kid me, on the other hand, resented growing up in Byron.

Though my parents made a concerted effort to enrol my brother and I in virtually every known extra-curricular activity to not only allow us to explore our talents but more importantly keep us busy, I recall on several occasions, being frustrated (if not outraged in my troublesome teen years) at the reality that there was NEVER anything to do. The cool people, the cool parties, the cool activities — they were nowhere in sight or sound. I was clearly missing out and perpetually dissatisfied... at least that's what I convinced myself at the time.

It's funny to look back on such “time capsule memories” — to remember how dead set you were in your ways and how apparently you had it all figured out. It's funnier still to reflect upon how the taken-for-granted simple innocuous things from your childhood come to hold the most profound and treasured spots in your heart in your adult years. What I wouldn't give now for a good night's sleep, let me tell ya!

The point I'm trying to make is this: time alone can be an extremely powerful factor as far as causing one to reassess his/her opinions/ values on a variety of subject matter… but that's only if you let it.

The thing about personal development and self-growth is that it's not an “absolute” that symbiotically occurs alongside the physical maturation process. Rather, it requires dedicated mental power and hours of reflection. And even then, it's no magical overnight transformation. I'll let you in on a little secret; the very thing I've been emphasizing in my columns all year is a sure-fire way to produce the beginnings of success. That thing being: embracing a socially and globally aware perspective.

While there's no way to achieve temporal hindsight (i.e. I only wish adult me could tell kid me to sleep extra hours on account of how sleep deprived I am now), one can (it's a choice) open up his/her world to multiple points of view, thereby causing one to contemplate why he/she maintains the stance(s) on various issues he/she does. In fact, doing so as a kid, I have no doubt, would've saved me a lot of grief. And that of course brings me to my next point: how do you achieve let alone “define” happiness?

Following love, mirth is undoubtedly the next most popular subject to be disbursed with a seemingly never-ending array of clichés. Again whaddya know?! It comes down to perspective. While each and every one of you will have/develop/evolve different ideas of what constitutes your personal notions of happiness throughout your lifetimes, there are two eternal truths you'll come to learn about the subject at hand:

1. Happiness requires being open to possibilities

2. Happiness requires an attitude of gratitude

And so my friends, I have but a few last parting words for you as you endeavour onto your next journey in life: You cannot know where you are without knowing where you've been. You cannot know where you're going without knowing where you are. You cannot know yourself without knowing others.

Perhaps most importantly, however, the who of your past, present and future is largely determined by one single factor: whether or not you choose to continue to grow, to expand, to mature and multiply your worldview, reality and perceptions.

Like the little kid I was once, I could've stayed intensely committed to my formerly held notions of what I believed I needed in life to be happy. But, I think I'm better off appreciating the true value of a good night's sleep.
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