“If you want to be happy, be.”

It seems logical, doesn’t it?

It’s easy to assume that as humans, the right to be happy is plainly our prerogative. Conceptually, the assumption is sound. Legally, we’re granted the pursuit of happiness as an unalienable right, so why not embrace positivity, emitting kindness and brightness and genuine optimism? We are all in relative control of our emotions, thoughts, and actions, right? That’s just it. It’s the key word that separates plausible and possible and probable—“relatively.” Working 8 hours a day, often 6 days in a row, I find my hunger for happy swept away by the vehement pulls of other people. It is their emotions, thoughts, and actions that have the power to sway how I feel. Regardless of whether it is subtle annoyances—a rude customer, screaming baby, or messy toddler tearing through the swim suit racks in which I had just meticulously, methodically organized by style and color—or bigger frustrations like a pounding headache and an overflowing to-do list, I can’t help but be affected.

This got me thinking—is there a way that I can genuinely be unaffected by extrinsic factors? Is there a way, without seeming naïve or pretentious, that I can live in my own sweet little world? After 2 vital days of recovery, it’s back to work tomorrow. The unique thing about working retail is the distinctive difference in hours as opposed to an archetypal desk job; I work most days of the standard workweek, and am always required to work weekends. While in my mind I am yet to wrestle this obviously unpleasant little difference into something more positive and advantageous, I deem this the perfect week to be more aggressive in my duel against negativity. As much as I want to credit my sometimes-sour thoughts and acrimonious façade to extrinsic factors, frequently the bitterness dwells in my own heart.

So consequently, that’s the challenge this week. I plan to strive—fight if I must—to be happy. It’s easy to read quotes (“life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”) and be instantly inspired and fired up on a newfound outlook on life. This kind of inspiration and motivation is fleeting. My goal is to wholeheartedly put this kind of “power of reaction” into practice, and see what stems from it.

Here goes-

Dawn and Dusk

I am most productive within the fleeting span of a few hours each day.

Something about dawn and dusk fascinate me; they ignite my mind with creative energy and recharge me with a newfound abundance of focus. I love the feeling in the morning when the world is still sleeping, and I finally feel peacefully alone for a few hours. The World is holding her breath as I quietly make my cup of tea (Good Earth: original). The World sleeps as I run, swim, walk and stretch. The World rests her eyes as I shower and organize my room, preparing for the day ahead. She naps while I open my textbooks, smoothing the pages with my fingers, and perfecting my arrangement of color-ordered highlighters and freshly sharpened pencils. I love the feeling of dusk; the day is coming to a close and yet the night is still young. There’s possibility there—a sort of promise of a perfect night ahead. Watercolors streak across the sky, while cotton candy clouds fade from pink to blue to purple. The sky swirls, as colors squirt together, mingling in the atmosphere. The sky turns to navy ink. I prepare my tea (Celestial Seasons: Sleepytime Vanilla), slide into my fuzzy pants and open my Bible.

Thank you God, for the dawns and dusks.

“The lands of the morning sunrise and evening sunset sing joyfully.” -Psalm 66:8

What Could Be

The best feeling in the world is inspiration. It’s that “aha!” moment of absolute enlightenment that incites seemingly boundless creativity.

There are those who strain to uncover this inspiration as they vehemently search, read, and research. Their minds are inquisitive, but not intrinsically so. These are the people who strive for their very own “aha” moment, because they see those around them spilling with innovation; they are people who want to be inspired just because others are. Pitiful. But then there are those who seem to draw inspiration from everything around them; they are the kind of people who would wholeheartedly agree with August Rush in his closing statement in his self-titled movie when he said, “The music is all around us; all you have to do is listen.” I am one of those people.

ne of my favorite sources of inspiration comes from the pages of Pottery Barn or PB Teen catalogues. I spend hours at a time sifting through the pages, poring over every subtle detail.

I draw inspiration from the gorgeous oak dining room tables, topped with crystal glasses full of rich burgundy wine and heaping plates of spaghetti. I imagine life in this dining room. My family and friends would gather every evening, joining me at the decadent table. Glasses would clink and laughter would ring. We would all be extraordinary, classier versions of ourselves, sipping upon our finely aged wines and indulging in professionally crafted Italian cuisine. I continue to flip the pages. The gorgeously organized home office becomes my own, as I envision myself sitting upon the plush leather study chair, pondering over a spread of famous theology works. I would be a focused, intellectual version of myself.

As I turn the page again, I am faced with a bedroom dripping of luxury. Seafoam green and white fill the pages. Floor-length lace curtains drip from mesmerizingly high ceilings. I become the outgoing social queen of the school, inviting over all of my closest friends for a lavish pampering evening of facials, manicures, and chick flicks. like to do that—to imagine what could be.

Every time I travel and my plane is ten minutes from landing, I find myself staring longingly out the window at the southern mansions, urban high-rises, and quaint beach cottages. There is something about décor, both interior and exterior, that inspires me and makes me wonder, “What could life be like?”