A visit to the grocery store recently changed my life. What I thought was going to be a routine trek to stock up on meal bars and toothpaste turned into one of the most profound experiences I have had to date. I walked in with my list on a sticky note, ready to browse the aisles of our capitalist utopia known as the Super Target.
Shopping took only about 10 minutes, and I soon found myself in the sea of lines at checkout. Realizing I would have some time to spare, I glanced at the magazine rack. What I noticed was incredible. Virtually every cover was chock full of catchy headlines such as “How to get what you want in life,” “Better abs in 20 minutes or less,” and “How to rock the fall fashions.”
As I instinctively reached for a Cosmo to learn how I, too, could become a career woman with a flawless body, the best of friends and the perfect man, it struck me that I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can better my life. I tend to not enjoy all of the wonderful things I have in front of me and instead focus on what I could make better or what I could change.
I think that many of us, if not most of us, fall prey to the allure of obtaining what seems to be eluding us. And not just obtain it, but obtain it easily, quickly and effortlessly. After all, it would be nonsensical to stay how I am when I could be a more improved version of myself with just a few simple tips and tricks applied each day.
Being the philosophy major I am, I began to question why we succumb to these magazines that tell us both what we want and how to achieve it. It dawned on me that I spend a lot of time doing things that don’t bring me happiness. Maybe if I had amazing abs, a hot boyfriend or the ability to “rock” leggings better than my peers, I would be happier with my life that can sometimes feel obligatory rather than joyful.
What I’ve since come to realize is that the solution to being a better version of myself does not lie in those magazines, or in getting something trivial that I do not currently possess.
Being a happier and improved Laura (or whatever your name happens to be) begins with me doing things everyday that bring me joy, along with recognizing the need to stop doing things that weigh me down more than they do anything else.
College is this weird time in which we want to get involved in absolutely everything in order to fully commit to having the “ultimate college experience.” So much pressure is put on us to enjoy this time that it can feel like reading a book for pleasure, watching a favorite TV show or even exercising is time that could have been spent doing something else deemed more important.
I’m here to tell you that the things that bring you the most happiness are the most important things in life, and we all ought to be doing them a heck of a lot more than we currently are.
If we all did what we wanted and what caused us to be at our happiest, I bet we wouldn’t scour magazines for tips about having the perfect hair or getting our bosses to like us. We could all be our best versions, finding fulfillment, meaning and, above all, joy in every part of every day.
This is what will lead us to our ideal selves, will allow us to step off the hamster wheel of stressors and overbooked schedules and into our real lives where we get our killer abs from all the laughter and happiness we begin to exude.