I like to think I’m an optimist. The glass is always half-full. Good things happen to those who deserve it, and dreams do come true. But alas! Even the most positive of all of us can’t be cheerful little rays of sunshine every single moment of our lives. It’s just not possible (if this doesn’t apply to you, are you sure you’re even living?). I was very much made aware of this fact on my flight from Bangkok to New York, as I flew back to university from my winter break.
Alexandra (renamed because I just don’t want any of this identity theft stuff chasing after me) is a woman probably in her early fifties. The first thing that struck me about her was her incredibly fashionable purse, which sort of made sense when about 4 hours into the flight, we began conversing and she revealed that she used to be a fashion designer and stylist in Moscow. We introduced each other, and talked about our mutual love for Thai food, writing, and being in nature.
Somewhere during our conversation, we touched on the topic of meditation, particularly what we do to relax ourselves. Alexandra told me she loved to create art, and I sadly told her I lacked any artistic skill whatsoever. Much to my surprise, she said she didn’t believe me. So, with some sheepish sentiment, I re-narrated all my unsuccessful endeavours to imitate art, create art, imagine art, and more. But Alexandra refused to accept the fact that I had no artistic talent.
See, it turns out that I’m not as positive as I thought I was. By simply saying that I wasn’t good at art, I was already downgrading myself and embracing pessimism, according to Alexandra. She then told me about how during her career, she often had to visit art galleries and such, and some of the paintings she saw simply consisted of a single shape, or one shade of color on a canvas. Art isn’t definable, which is probably why it is such a true embodiment of what it means to be human. Just because you can’t paint as vibrantly as Frida Kahlo, or as distortedly as Pablo Picasso doesn’t mean you don’t get art.
Art is subjective, and for the most part, so is life! There is no scale of happiness, and there is no guarantee of it either. We create happiness, happiness doesn’t create us. Yeah I know- pretty deep stuff for a conversation so high up in the sky (sorry, ha).
For those of us who like lists (me!), Alexandra gave me some pretty decent (okay, amazing) advice. When it comes to making a decision, from our careers, to making choices about our significant others and family, one could make a list with three columns. In the first column, list the points you love about the decision. In column two, list the points you hate. Now, cut out the first column, put it aside, and create another column next to column two. List the exact same points that you wrote in column two, but in a positive way- this is the hardest step, by the way. Now cut out column two as well, it’s insignificant. Focus on the last column you wrote, because that’s paper evidence of you being positive. You are looking at the not so bright aspects of something, and finding a light in the dark.
Congratulations, you’ve just given yourself a little dose of happiness.