Redefining Happiness

The other night I dreamt I went to camp again. The dream was a hodgepodge of camp activities which I will refrain from describing, but, suffice it to say, I was genuinely happy. For a moment, when I woke up, I thought I was really in my cabin at camp, but as my eyes adjusted to the dark and my mind cleared, I realized I wasn’t anywhere close to camp. Instead I was alone in my apartment, and all too quickly I remembered that instead of having a day of kayaking and sun-bathing ahead, all I had to look forward to was doing practice questions to prepare for my upcoming exam. That’s when I started to cry.

After the tears subsided, I grabbed my computer to search for quotes online, something I like to do when I’m feeling blue, and stumbled across a quote by Leonardo da Vinci that said, “Once you have flown, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward; for there you have been, there you long to return.”

And, while I didn’t literally long to fly, I did long for the happy, carefree life I once had. For the time when I was able to spend four hours a day at dance practice. Or six hours making dinner and dessert for my friends. Or a morning doing absolutely nothing.

As I lay in bed, reminiscing about my pre-medical school life, I slowly began to acknowledge my current life really isn’t so terrible—it’s just different. So, I decided it’s time for me to redefine happiness. Instead of happiness being doing whatever I want whenever I want, I need to start looking for happiness in what I already have. I have a great group of friends and a loving family. I’m healthy. I’m physically and mentally capable of doing anything I set my mind to. And I’m well on my way to a highly rewarding career as a doctor.

Just as I am trying to do, I encourage you to consider if perhaps it’s time for you to redefine what happiness is and to look for all the wonderful things you already possess instead of longing for what once was and will not be again.

Today’s guest author is Jessica Sanford, med student extraordinaire and Diane’s wonderful daughter.

What can you do to redefine happiness in your life? Let us know.