Happiness... Make your own list

Body of Water ran this past Thursday through Saturday. Because everyone in my Movement III class was involved in the piece, we all expected class to be cancelled on Friday morning (especially considering our performance Thursday evening began at 9:30pm!). When the email never came, about half of the class begrudgingly woke up and trekked to the CFA. When we arrived, our instructor told us she had fully intended to cancel class, but forgot her laptop at school, meaning she couldn't email us. (At the time, that felt like the worst news in the entire world).

Since six or so of us had made it to class, she graciously left her credit card at Sunnyside Café, a cute little coffee shop located in the CFA, and told us all to treat ourselves "luxuriously." With a mocha chip muffin and chai latte in hand, I headed back to the studio where we were informed that class would consist of a choice of either watching a documentary on happiness or taking a nap in the sunshine. -- I'd just like to make a note that this is not at all a typical dance class... we may be on the floor a lot but the intention is never napping. This was truly a gift from a beautiful, beautiful professor.

The documentary talked a lot about how Americans really aren't happy, likely because we focus so much on material goods. While I watched, cuddling with my favorite dance humans, I remembered how every year in middle school I would make a "happiness list" during spring finals, inspired by the book 14,000 Things to be Happy About that my grandma gave me.

Each week for the same class, we have to create a "mark" to share based on the past week of class, or what we read for class. In the past, I did photography on emptiness (how it has a negative connotation but a lot of the time if something is "full" it isn't serving its purpose, or how emptiness creates space for something new). I also did a dance performance with quotes from my Intro to Counseling textbooks on how we aren't taught to connect in our society (juxtaposed with dancers connecting and listening to each other -- I'm still trying to find a way to "prove" to people who don't consider themselves artists that my two disciplines are entirely interconnected).

This week, I made a happiness list, and once again it made me think of my Intro to Counseling class. In that class, we are studying Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and a big part of that is finding what your values are. As I made my list of things that made me happy, my values became really clear: I value feeling connected with others, with my body, and with nature. I value traveling, food, and cleanliness.

Looking at post-graduation, I get overwhelmed with this sense that I'm never going to have enough money which stresses me out. Put in the perspective of my values, though, money doesn't seem entirely important -- things like having nice clothes or a new car didn't make my list. While things like seeing Impressionism in person or being able to look at Antoni Gaudí's masterpieces are important, I know that I'll have to put more effort into saving money for travel than spending money on going out for fancy drinks with friends. While part of me is materialistic enough that I would like nice clothes and to go out with friends every weekend, putting things in perspective makes post-college life a whole lot less scary.

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