Illustration by Christina Zhang.


Happiness is such a convoluted concept; there’s no consistent definition for every individual, yet we have a constant need to pursue the feeling. Its conception changes from person to person on a daily basis, with infinite memories, thoughts, and moments that can help define it.

For one person, happiness may be determined by the seemingly insignificant aspects in life—a sunny day, smiling at your significant other, or finding a toonie on the ground. For others, however, it could be having successful children, perfect careers, or creating change. It all depends on what you want for yourself. For those that find satisfaction in the smaller facets, you are still doing enough. You don’t need to pursue that career in medicine that would lead to a penthouse, overtime hours, and perpetual stress. If your happiness lies within a small, stable town with just enough to get by, that’s fine too.

Think on a smaller scale—look at how you’re impacting the world around you. That worn-out seat you gave up for that elderly man? It probably made his ride a lot more comfortable. A few dollars given to a guitarist standing outside the subway or cans of food donated to a nearby shelter will be enough to make a world of difference. Nothing major has to be done—happiness can be given and taken through being kind to your surroundings. Whatever life throws your way, remember that the little things matter.

Happiness is harder to attain for those who desire executive positions or constantly hound at higher numbers on pieces of paper. The unrelenting psychogenic obligation to achieve more and more and more eats away at them. If they’ve been able to save thousands of lives, could they change that number to millions? There would never be a moment when everything is sufficient for them, and for some, that is okay. It fuels them—gives them a purpose. For others who want out of this endless cycle, it’s fine to look at what you have accomplished, and take a break from it. Whether it ranges from a few days to a month, or even years, there’s no need to satisfy anyone’s expectations but your own. If you are stopping to pursue your own happiness, there’s no obligation for you to do something prodigious. Do something for yourself instead.

Maybe keep a journal to record what made you happy in certain moments, whether it was having a friend reluctantly purchase food for you or breakfast served in bed. The emotions you cherish so greatly may be fleeting, but the memories that remain have an impact. If you’ve been through a continuous streak of despondent days, it is okay to take a moment to breathe; there is no set path you have to follow, after all.

Sustained satisfaction may be difficult to achieve, but if you remember to remember the little things, it may still be reachable. Not everyone needs an insurmountable triumph in order to be happy with life. Maybe all that’s needed is just a plethora of goals—small or large—to work towards, to look forward to, to make life worthwhile.