"The best way to predict your future is to create it." Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln High School Statesman

"The best way to predict your future is to create it." Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln High School Statesman

"The best way to predict your future is to create it." Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln High School Statesman

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I got joy

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(Artwork by Naomi Jespersen)

In the past year, I have developed an anthem; it is something I listen to when I feel the presence of joy, or perhaps, its absence. Ben Rector’s “Joy” lives up to its name and consistently reminds me “I’ll be alright / ‘Cause I got joy / In my life.”

 

I listened to this song on the way to AAU Volleyball Nationals in Florida, in the car after learning my grandpa unexpectedly passed away, and even last week while doing my homework in the kitchen. In every circumstance, I strive to find happiness. I work to seek joy even when other emotions demand my attention, and in doing so, I continue to learn the impact that joy has on my life. So, in honor of the International Day of Happiness (March 20), here are three things that make my life joyful:

 

Smiling:

On my long list of problems, one can easily find “smiles too much.” Almost every minute of every day, I have some variation of a grin on my face. I simply cannot contain it. However, some may find it surprising that this has required significant work on my end. As a toddler, I coined the phrase “stink eye” with my slack-jawed concentration face and tendency to scowl. Yet, at age eight, I decided that I was going to make an effort to smile more. Over time, this effort became an instinct, one that not only brings me joy but also brightens the days of those around me. 

 

Valuing (or trying to value) other people:

This is much, much easier said than done. People, myself definitely included, can be incredibly annoying and difficult to interact with. That being said, making empathy a priority can bring resounding good to the world, if not to the lives of those affected. It does not mean all of us must hold hands and live in harmony, but treating others with genuine, human kindness can bring joy to everyone.

 

Being curious:

As someone learning to embrace strange hobbies, I can confidently say that actively pursuing curiosity has a profound impact on my joy. On any given day, one can find me hand-rolling sushi, obsessively consuming podcasts, helping with doctoral research at a yoga studio or teaching kids math. I undoubtedly have strange interests and unique occupations, yet they all bring me irrepressible rushes of dopamine. Put more clearly: curiosity brings joy.

 

With full transparency, I do not succeed in doing all three of these things every day. Moreover, there are days when I actively do things that take from my joy. Instead of smiling, I sometimes yell at my siblings. Instead of valuing others, I may ignore the kid next to me in math. Instead of being curious, I might mindlessly scroll through social media or the news. However, it is in these moments that I see the impact happiness has on my life. Ironically, when joy is less present, it becomes more necessary. And, while it is healthy to have times of sadness, mourning or anger, it is important to balance those emotions with something more. Thankfully, when I seek joy in my everyday life, I find just that: joy.

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About the Contributor
Naomi Jespersen
Naomi Jespersen, Staff Writer
Naomi Jespersen is a sophomore, first-year staff writer for the Statesman. When she is not compulsively listening to NPR, you can find Jespersen playing volleyball, working out, practicing piano or studying AP chem. Jespersen works two jobs, both as a research assistant and a math instructor, but is otherwise involved in student council, MNHS and SNHS. Surprisingly, Jespersen lives each day guided by one Michael Scott quote: “Fool me once, strike one. Fool me twice, strike three” (not actually, but she hopes to someday).
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