As we’ve reached the third week of 2022, despite what was meant to be a new year full of energy, excitement, and reset, I have reached a new level of exhaustion.
With the end of the pandemic nowhere near in sight, my second year of grad school of what has now been six consecutive years of university, what looks to be my second pandemic graduation, the potential for my summer UK trip to visit my grandparents dwindling day by day, and this god awful weather – I have had enough, quite frankly.
I’m somewhat of a natural pessimist, but this past year, I worked diligently to be my own as well as others’ personal cheerleader. I was always sending messages of encouragement to others in down times, compiling a post-pandemic activities list, creating an illusion of happiness in the doom that is grad school, and more.
But I’ve reached the point where the silver lining has never been so hard to find.
After days on end of Zoom classes, Zoom work meetings and more, my happiness barometer often teeters in the 50% and below range.
And I think that that's okay. We don’t need to be happy all the time, it’s kind of impossible, really.
But I didn’t always feel this way. Social media and more specifically, wellness culture on social media, has ingrained the idea that I need to be smiles and sunshine 24/7— that doing yoga at 5AM and writing what I’m grateful for will fix everything; that reading self-help books would pull me out of my slump; and that I just need to be more positive.
I’m here to tell you, that’s a load of shit.
I’ve done all the above, on top of those happiness lists backed by science, and while I agree that they have many benefits, they’re not what I need after a day of school, work, and emails.
From conversations I’ve been having and from what I can gather on social media, many of us are going through it right now, and have (rightly so) had enough of the culture of “positive vibes only.”
So I’ve taken it upon myself to develop an Anti-Happiness, Happiness list— like the many lists you can find on Google, except this one is backed only by Jasmin Science, with details that I think would be much more useful and without toxic positivity.
This list may not be for everyone, but these are things that have often provided me some respite from pandemic fatigue, grad school, and all the moments where I’ve simply had enough. I hope you all enjoy!
1. Walks – Something that I’ve always struggled with when it comes to working out, has been my compulsion to go big or go home. My workouts as such have either been non-existent, or four hour-long affairs. This often results in me feeling even more stressed out after a tough day. During the pandemic however, I’ve been able to reframe this relationship to exercise through walks. I’m aware that I didn’t invent walks, and that we all know what walking is. But perhaps we don’t all realize the benefit of walking over more marketable and less enjoyable higher-intensity forms of cardio. Most notably, walking is lower-impact and can provide a lot of the same benefits as running, for example. It’s something I’ve been doing daily with a few different walking buddies and something I thoroughly enjoy. I also log my walks on Strava to keep track of them (and yes, Strava isn’t just for extreme marathoners and cyclists, us walkers can hang too).\
2. Reading – If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you’ll know that I’m a huge proponent of reading. It’s my go to activity to feel lighter after a long day. However, this hasn’t always been the case. For the entirety of my undergrad, I probably averaged reading a book a year, and even that was a feat for me. In the past year however, I’ve managed to fall in love with reading again, and increase this to 30 books in one year. A lot of this has been through setting a personal challenge of reading a book a week, as well as finally making a Goodreads account (and forcing my siblings to make one too). I can confirm that I only read a book this week to beat my 13-year-old sister’s goal on Goodreads, and that made me incredibly happy.
3. Self-reflection – Self-reflection is often a regular constituent of happiness lists, but these lists don’t ever explain how to go about it. As such, I’ve always struggled with self-reflection. It’s never felt like an enjoyable activity for me as someone who likes to bottle their emotions. But once again, I feel like I’ve been able to reframe what self-reflection means to me. In the past year, I bought a Q&A a day – 5-year journal, that allows you to answer a question every day for a year and repeat this over the next 4 years. The questions vary from lighthearted and fun to deep and insightful. Filling this book out in 2021 really encouraged me to a) self-reflect and b) do it in a fun and exciting way. Something about waking up in the morning and filling my answer in for the day brings me so much joy. I would also recommend YearCompass which is a booklet that helps you reflect on your past year and how you want to move forward in the next.
4. Friends and family – For me, hanging out with family and friends is the ultimate source of happiness. Something I realized in the pandemic is that I don’t actually know the people in my life all that well— even those closest to me. As such, I’ve spent a lot of time playing games like “We’re Not Really Strangers”, doing the Love LanguageTM Quiz, and asking my dearest associates as many bizarre and outlandish questions from various other online question generators. I feel like this has helped me connect with people on a whole new level and brought so much happiness in the pandemic where seeing each other face to face has been much harder.
5. Music – Music is truly food for the soul and has been something that has been there for me throughout the highs and lows, even in the pre-pandemic times. But my love for music in the past year has grown— if that’s even possible. I’ve made it a regular activity for that reason. In fact, every Thursday night in my house is music night (aka me jamming out at 11PM alone) where I make a playlist in honour of all the wonderful new music being released and all the old tunes I’m still listening to. A huge part of this enjoyment has been looking back at all the music I grew up listening to and the godsend that is Spotify. As a long-time Spotify user, I’ve been able to revisit past versions of myself through my music history from as far back as 2015. Spotify also has a neat feature (alongside many other cool features) that allows you to determine your music compatibility with friends and meshes your music tastes in a playlist. Regardless of the music platform you use, I think that sharing music and expanding one’s music taste is a great way to deal with the blues.
o @sahibcantsingh – Sahib Singh is a brown stand-up comedian hailing from the Baltimore/D.C. area. His videos, particularly his POV’s of girlfriends asking their business major boyfriends questions never fail to crack me up.
o @chrissimpsonartist – Chris (Simpsons artist) is an anonymous cartoonist from the UK that makes a slew of weird and wonderful cartoons that words simply cannot define. This may be a little too wacky for some, but scrolling through his Instagram brings me so much joy.
o @jameslloydcole – James is a U.K-based photographer that takes the most beautiful scenic pictures all over the UK. From ethereal cottages to majestic landscapes, James does it all. As someone who has been desperate to go to the UK, this page provides me with some much-needed relief.
o @qualiteaposts – This is an Instagram account that I’ve followed for years and don’t quite know how to describe. Think Bollywood music, romance, thirst posts, and quirky edits. It’s simply amazing.
o @malakaigiavasisgrier – So this is actually an influencers babies’ Instagram. I know what you’re thinking but trust me when I say that this baby is the cutest human I’ve ever seen and watching him explore the world is an immediate happiness inducing activity.
o @EnglishBayBarge – For those of you that don’t know, the barge is a barge that ended up along Vancouver’s Sunset Beach following BC’s intense period of storms. The barge is now a resident celebrity, so much so that it has its own Twitter which varies from being contentious to wildly amusing.
o @WorldBollard – This is a twitter account all about cool bollards. As a future urban planner, I think bollards are great and every time this account tweets, it brings me great joy. Check out these duck and banana inspired bollards.
THINGS TO WATCH & LISTEN TO
o The new Weeknd album – I can confirm that listening to the new Weeknd album while lying like a starfish in bed, is a great way to feel happy.
o Cinematic music - I’ve never really been into movie soundtracks but I’m finding that there’s something so incredibly magical about this genre especially while listening on a rainy day. Some of my latest faves include: Agape by Nicholas Britell; To Build a Home by The Cinematic Orchestra and Patrick Watson; and Kiss Goodbye by Hans Zimmer.
o Nayna Florence Patel - is a UK based Youtuber that makes videos on university life in Edinburgh, being a vegan, books, and more. She has such a chill vibe and I often find that watching her videos is an immediate stress reliever for me.
o Tom Daley - is not only an Olympic gold medalist but also an author, a YouTuber, and an awesome dad. It's really special to watch the juxtaposition of his videos in preparing for the Olympics and fulfilling his dad duties. He also has an infectious energy that often pulls me out of my slumps.
THINGS TO BUY
1. A pair of bad bitch boots – this past weekend, I purchased a pair of what I call “bad bitch” boots (on sale, might I add) that have brought a lot of light in my life. Do I have anywhere to go? No. But, regardless, I strut in these boots in my garage and feel a lot happier.
2. Sunset lamp – I bought the sunset lamp after getting sent multiple Tik Toks of it. It’s probably one of the sillier purchases I’ve made but there’s nothing quite like a fake sunset while doing homework.
3. Strawberry cardigan – after years of pining over the infamous strawberry cardigan on Instagram, I finally bit the bullet this past year and bought myself one as a birthday present to myself. While they are ridiculously expensive, it brings me joy that they are a sustainable brand and that each cardigan is handcrafted by some very talented women based in Turkey. Anytime I wake up with the blues, I wear this cardigan and feel a little happier through it.
About the author
Jasmin SengheraMore by Jasmin Senghera
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