Jen YihComment

Cultivating Your Own Happiness

Jen YihComment
Cultivating Your Own Happiness

It struck me this year. Happiness. I realized, I was super f*cking happy. I know it sounds like I’m bragging, but I’m not going hide this reality from you. It’s possible & not just for a day or week, but more permanently. A soulful content… It has nothing to do with your job, who you’re dating, who your friends are, or how great your family is. It’s about you and your relationship with yourself & how you perceive the world around you.



Let me be the first to say that, happiness - isn’t easy. So many of us in Western society seek happiness in all things external. We’re programmed to find happiness in over-indulgence, money, superficial things, vanity, and ego. It’s actually horrible because all those things are addictive for short-term, fleeting happiness that end up making us feel completely empty & worthless at the end of our days. Real, authentic, genuine happiness is cultivated from within - inside of YOU. There is nothing exterior about finding it. It comes from understanding yourself, accepting your flaws, wants, desires, temptations, failures, fears, and mistakes. It’s about forgiving yourself for mistakes that you’ve made, pitfalls or shortcomings that need improvement, it’s about congratulating yourself on your achievements and being your own best friend when you need support in a troubling or turbulent moment. It’s learning how to self-soothe in moments of chaos and failure, and going to bed at night with your head on your pillow, remembering to tell yourself that it is okay and tomorrow is a new day to make change, be better, more kind, informed, graceful…


So much of this cultivation comes in moments alone. The more we rely on others and give them the power to make or break our day, the more co-dependency we have on other people. I’m not saying be a recluse and not to interact with other people or have a laugh or share a deep secrets… But, if we’re constantly overstimulated and distracted by the world, news, politics, gossip, complaints - we’ll never get into our own minds & hearts to listen to our own tune and what it is trying to tell us. Being alone, for an hour a day, one day a week, one week a month - whatever may be enough to you is incredibly important. For some weird reason, our society sees someone being alone as a negative thing - like social rejection or unpopularity but that is simply not true. Solitude is one of the greatest gifts in life and when we spend more time alone with ourselves, the more we can tune into ourselves, the world around, and foster deeper connections & understanding for others.


We all take ourselves too seriously in adulthood. I’m this... I’m that… I’ve been published here… I’ve been awarded this… blah blah blah. Lighten up. If you wake up and dwell on every single injustice, murder, rape, war - I promise you, you will never make it out of this life with hope for the future. The news, media, and people in general, focus on all of our injustices without putting enough emphasis on resolution, peace, understanding, progress, and solution. We get bogged down with toxic talk and environments, allowing it to pollute our existence. We become cripple - in the mind, body, and soul - and make decisions out of fear & survival… I love children because they remind me of what we were like at our purity, untainted by heartbreak and injustice. They laugh, play, and create beautiful worlds of their own. Do what you have to do to tap into your inner Peter Pan, dance, laugh, be silly… This is not immaturity, this is survival.


I was lucky enough to move to Brazil when I was 17-years-old. I went to where my dad grew up. I came from a rather comfortable American life where we had a beautiful house we didn’t even lock the front doors to, I got to go to prom, we had more than 1 nice car, a fridge full of food, college on my horizon, health, a family that was still together, and a loving and supportive community. The minute I got to Brazil, I drove through the slums and up through a gated community where the wealthy built walls around their community, locked their cars on their steering wheels and tires, bolted their front door, and barred their windows. The division of rich and poor was so incredibly divided that the rich feared the poor and the poor resented the rich. I tried to help the maid at my house in Brazil take the dishes to the kitchen and clean-up because that’s what I was taught to do as a kid but I was scolded not to help the help… I found out the maid had a family of her own, two kids, a husband, and lived an hour bus ride away from the beautiful house I was staying at. She arrived at 7AM and didn’t leave until after dinner about 9PM. When did she see her family? Did she get to tuck her kids in at night? Did she have the energy to make love to her husband? I didn’t speak Portuguese too well at the time, so I had a lot of time with my thoughts. I thought a lot about she and her life. Everyday she came in for breakfast with a smile on her face and said goodnight with a smile on her face - never flickering a moment of frustration. As you read this, think about your day, abilities, and privileges… Think about a time you were tapping your toe at the check-out of your organic grocery store or something small, or angry that someone screwed up your order or gave attitude to someone on a customer service line trying to get your money back or flight changed… It’s all about perspective and never, ever taking for granted your privileges, luxuries, and freedom of choice.


This brings me to the impermanent, petty, unimportant distractions we let infiltrate our lives. The little things like dwelling on wanting to be liked, accepted, or buying shit we don’t need or wishing we had perfect eyebrows, unblemished skin, a cool job, interesting friends, stylish clothes, a new car, social media, and the list goes on and on. Instead of waking up, being grateful for another day to be better, more kind, make a difference, make someone’s day. Being thankful for our health, having a cup of coffee, someone that loves you, loving or missing someone, a job, a craft, an education, the ability to read, speaking English, have the freedom to speak your mind and express yourself, a beautiful sunshine day… I could go on all day.

If you’re reading this. I hope you will start to tune out and tune in, find moments of solitude, dance, laugh, do away with the unimportant, and never, ever take a day on this precious planet with precious people for granted.