Thoughts on Happiness

Golden hour at Pebble Beach, on the way to Santa Cruz

Caring for countless patients that struggle with anxiety, watching the rise of depression and mental illness in our generation, as well as help some of my friends who struggle with anxiety and depression, I've given some thought as to what makes me happy.

At this time in my life, I really feel like I'm living my best life. Living in SF, living with my current roommates, working at my current job, in my current relationship, I really feel happy all the time. My roommates actually make fun of me because I've said my biggest struggle in life is finding street parking. While I haven't always been this happy (I went through dark periods in med school), ever since I moved to California, I don't remember feeling any happier.  My friends always ask me what is the secret to my happiness and I thought I would write them down to immortalize what makes me happy right now.

1. Be grateful for what you have -- practice appreciation and gratitude daily. This is the most important thing for me. Instead of thinking what you don't have, think about everything you do have. Chances are if you are reading this, you have a computer, a stable internet connection, a roof over your head, and a good family and job. You could have it so much worse. There's a saying, if we all threw all of our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd take ours back.

I feel incredibly lucky to live in SF constantly, one of the most exciting cities in the world. When I walk around, I'm in awe of the beauty of the city, the unique architecture, the weather, the proximity to the ocean, and all the amazing hills that give me some of the greatest views in the country. My dream in med school was to move to California, and I feel like I am pinching myself constantly that I actually live here now. I am also grateful for my parents and my roommates (my sister and another friend that now feel like another sister) with whom I have so much fun every day. My job is intellectually stimulating and fulfilling, and I'm making strides to move forward in my career from a resident to a fellow. I couldn't ask for anything else right now and I think that is the secret to my happiness.

2. Be confident, be you -- I feel lucky that I've never struggled with anxiety. In fact, I tend to lean towards overconfidence than insecurity, even as a child. I've always felt that I was smart, witty, and friendly and so was never insecure about myself in academic or social situations. I don't think I was ever boastful or arrogant about these things. They have just been little things I know about myself, that I don't think I was overly obvious about, but just gave me an innate sense of confidence. A lot of millenials, especially young women, struggle with feeling lost or anxious, or with "imposter syndrome" but a part of me thinks they should embrace their twenties, be more secure in themselves, and be unapologetically themselves! Obviously it's much easier said than done. Depressed people just can't "snap out of it" and anxious people just can't stop being anxious. Maybe it is the fact that I'm nearing 30 and not in my early twenties anymore, but you spend so much time trying to change for your parents, your friends, and then significant others that you don't realize that you'll never be comfortable in your own skin unless you embrace yourself first.

3. Let the little things go -- All the sayings are true. In order to be happy, you have to choose happiness. And this means choosing to let the little things go. Letting go of the shitty day you had at work, letting go of the customer service rep who was mean to you, and even letting go of that $300 parking ticket. Are you going to remember this in 1 year, or 5 years? If not, let it go.

4. No room for negativity -- Similar to above, I'm pretty relentless in editing out negativity from my life. I'm ruthless about unfollowing people on social media that don't make me feel good and unfriending people on Facebook I no longer care about (no unwanted baby or wedding photos on my feed). I also have no guilt about letting go of old friends or acquaintances if we no longer keep in touch. I only hang out with people that I have fun with, who I value and add something to my life, and don't keep people around who make bring me down. I do me and I'm unapologetic about it. You do you and don't look back (nobody thinks about you as much as you do).

Of course being happy doesn't mean I have no room to grow or to improve my life. Rather it gives me the peace in order to not want for anything and to be perfectly present in my current life. I'm sure life will throw some curveballs my way but I'm going to take the opportunity to just be happy for as long as it lasts right now.

We took these photos on a spontaneous road trip to Santa Cruz last week, when SF was still basking in some gorgeous weather (70s and sunny). I'm amazed by the beauty of the California coast every time, and it's a surprise every time it's so accessible. I was also amazed how deserted most of these beaches are. Our destination was Shark Fin Cove, the magnificent shark fin rock you see in the last few photos, and there was literally no one on the beach a few minutes after sunset. While A and I's crazy schedules don't give us much "normal" time together, it does give us some great moments like these.
 Shark Fin Cove, Santa Cruz

Grainy (but happy) at Shark Fin Cove 


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