Many people, including myself, are always searching for something. It can be an answer to a broad question, like “what is the meaning of life?” or something less philosophical, for example: “what’s happening to my money during this revenge-against-capitalism financial mess?” In the end, though, whether they are broad or detailed, life is just a series of questions waiting to be answered. Right now, my question is: how do I find my own happiness?
If you were to ask any of my classmates, they would tell you that I’m not a flamboyant person. I’m the type of guy who ends up eating alone during lunch because it feels awkward sitting with the “popular” kids who always talk about their current boyfriends and girlfriends; the type of guy who people come to ask for help on their math homework, and instead if you try to strike a conversation about something more sociable, they shun you like you’re some cadaverous creep. It’s hard to picture someone like me being happy, and my experiences have told me you can’t. And although I’ve tried hard to escape this quicksand, much to my chagrin, there’s the famous saying, “it’s easier said than done.”
The thing about life is that sometimes you’ll find things in the most unexpected places. I found what I was searching for – an answer to the indelible question of how to find happiness – in a New Yorker cartoon my friend gave me during finals week of freshman year. The cartoon showed a clown talking to a little girl holding a balloon. However, it wasn’t the clown’s big red nose or the girl’s awed expression that struck me, but rather the words on the bottom of the 4 x 6 inch paper: “But remember, you’re responsible for your own happiness.”
I believe that the key to happiness is to discover the source within oneself. While an individual alone may not be able to provide outside pleasures, I believe that whether you are a boy or girl, teenager or adult, happiness must first come from within before it can come from outside.
In J.D. Salinger’s A Catcher in the Rye, there is a scene towards the end of the novel that has always remained particularly vivid in my mind. It has remained with me not because of Holden Caulfield’s famous antics, but because of a single quote, a single reminder of what happiness means to me: “The whole arrangement’s designed for men who, at some time or other in their lives, were looking for something their own environment couldn’t supply them with. Or they thought their own environment couldn’t supply them with. So they gave up looking. They gave it up before they ever really even got started.” The truth is, I know my environment won’t supply me happiness, nor will it embrace me, but I won’t stop looking, because I shouldn’t, because now I know where to look.