• alissaward

Happiness Comes in Waves

Updated: Aug 8, 2021

I’ve always been a relatively positive and happy person. And then about two and a half years ago, I was in a minor car accident that essentially changed everything for me. It was amazing how such a minor incident, could cause such major adjustments in my life. I no longer had full control over my emotions, my motivation levels, my attention span, my physical abilities… essentially everything I had prided myself on and built my identity surrounding was out of my control. At the time, I was in a full-course load, working part-time, and volunteering heavily within various associations at my university. The tasks that I could do a week prior without a second thought, I could no longer do easily. It took serious concentration, a lot of support from those around me, seeking professional help, and many hours spent in many different offices, but all of which have gotten me to a strong and stable position today. This was the first real stage of my life where I wasn’t my joyful, positive-self because it was HARD to be, because I couldn’t do so many of the activities that brought me happiness.

It took me a long time, but this accident helped me realize I needed to slow down at that point in my life. It also helped me realize that I needed to cultivate my own happiness, I couldn’t just wait to be able to do what I once could, as frustrating as this was at the time, I’m thankful for it now. Don’t get me wrong, this took time, but one day, it just clicked, I was just over feeling “stuck,” and was at a physical and mental state where I could make the necessary changes to get “unstuck.” It was tough not being able to do so much of what I could prior, but I gained a new appreciation for starting up again, for slowing down, and appreciating the process and all of what my body is capable of doing that I never gave it credit for pre-accident.

Since this accident, I’ve learned to create happiness, but also to understand that I don’t have to be happy all the time. Sad and terrible things happen in the world all the time and it’s okay to embrace that. On the other hand, I have to create happiness and gratitude for all of the wonderful aspects of life as well, giving my attention to what I can cultivate and better myself through. Although I do believe that the past doesn’t define our future, I think this definitely helped shape my future. It helped me to acknowledge the impact that I can have, learning slowly what brings joy into my life, and how I can continue to create happiness each day. I think my definition of happiness greatly changed over this time period and now reflects so much more gratitude. Happiness is different for everyone, but for me it’s always the little things:

In watching young kids with pure innocence. In petting every dog I walk past. In eating all of the in-season fruit. In wearing my Blundstone’s and walking through muddy areas because I can while keeping my feet dry. In avoiding single use plastics for an entire day. In seeing my family every day (in person or over FaceTime). In finding relevant memes that perfectly depict my friendships and sharing them. In finding a tasty hot chocolate.

Happiness is in so many day-to-day experiences. Ultimately, with everything in life, the small things are the big things. Finding joy in lots of little moments creates a big life that I’m happy about each and every day.

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