Where do you find your happiness?

A discussion worth having with yourself and your peers


Caroline Eastham is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

Sitting in Clark Stacks during the early morning hours, I stare at my haggard reflection and can’t help but wonder whether all this is worth it. What am I even working towards? Will the stressful days and sleepless nights pay off in the end and provide me with a life I desire?

Questions like these pile upon each other exponentially until there is no space left in my head for a clear thought. The college environment can get overwhelming and lonely. It is easy to assume that everyone is consumed by their own busy schedules and elaborate plans for the future with no concern for the rest of humanity. Being in charge of your own life for the first time can be invigorating, but it is also very easy to quickly become selfish with your decisions and actions. Admittedly, I’ve fallen victim to this on occasion, and the realization of this fact is rather depressing. 

It is a fact that happiness is desired by everyone. This is something we can all agree on no matter what our age, gender, political party alignment or any other number of dividing factors may be. The hope that we as a society will always have at least one thing to agree on has always brought me a sense of peace. 

However, happiness is different for each individual, and it appears that the reasons for pursuing happiness are becoming increasingly selfish in modern circumstances. For many, money is the ultimate source of happiness. Money can certainly provide momentary happiness, but it will never guarantee consistent contentedness, at least not for me. 

While it is convenient and comfortable to have money to spend, money can only buy tangible things which will never serve as my sole motivating factor. I obviously don’t want to be without money, but having an excess amount of it is not a life goal of mine.

For me, happiness is most frequently found when I am surrounded by people I care about and who care about me. I place much more value on experiences, and the people I share them with than material items that bring fleeting joy. I get the most reward from interacting with others in a mutual venture rather than thinking only of my personal success on an independent journey. 

This concept seems simple to me, until I look at the news and can’t seem to avoid instances of  hate, lying or suffering. The pull to help our fellow citizens appears to have dwindled due to selfish desires. Has the belief in a common good disappeared? 

Curious about the population of young people that are next in line to lead our country, I reached out to my peers. I asked 10 of my friends if given the choice between money and happiness, which would they choose? To my surprise and excitement, 10 out of 10 answered happiness.

Many question attending college for four years if a high-paying job is not the ultimate goal, but college is intended for far greater purposes than just securing a salary. College is about intellectual, personal and spiritual growth to prepare you for the real world. This growth is necessary in order to sustain the existence of selflessness in society. Having the goal of money alone is limiting and ultimately stands as a barrier to any growth.

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I encourage you to consider the question of money versus happiness and the implications of your answer. The only thing we can truly control in this world is ourselves and what impact we choose to have on society. Therefore, it is worth considering crucial decisions like these that will directly affect the impact. 

I’m back in Clark Stacks now staring at that familiar haggard reflection. Stress and exhaustion remain, however, this time I feel a sense of contentedness with the fact that I am not alone in my thoughts on happiness. Being able to discuss moral concepts like these with my peers is a gift that is truly enlightening. Maybe my community, and the broader world for that matter, isn’t as selfish as it seems. Maybe I tend to let pessimism get the best of me, but this type of reflection is what we need. This time I stare at my reflection and feel far less alone. I feel happy. 

Caroline Eastham is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com

related stories