Dare to Be Happy

happy antique by Susan Sermoneta (CC BY-NC-ND)

happy antique by Susan Sermoneta (CC BY-NC-ND)

Happiness is a risk. If you’re not a little scared, then you’re not doing it right. ―Sarah Addison Allen
Be brave, little rabbit. Take a chance. ―Cherise Sinclair
Those who say ‘yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have. ―Keith Johnstone
Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.
―John A. Shedd



January is a relief after the holidays’ excitement and indulgence. Kicking off twelve fresh months full of possibility, it feels like a clean slate, a new chance for happiness. Optimistic, we make a slew of New Year’s resolutions. But happiness is harder than it looks.

Despite our best intentions, familiar routines lull us into complacency until we mistake comfort for fulfillment. After all, change is scary. And staying put is so comfortable. You don’t have to be well-groomed or stylish or witty to curl up on the couch in sweats with tv and takeout. It’s not terribly exciting, but there are no nasty surprises either. Better the devil you know.

Then again, you probably won’t meet your next lover, bandmate, investor, or muse in your living room. Chances are you’ll have to get off the couch for fresh inspiration, live music, and impromptu conversation. Do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always gotten. If you’re looking for change, you’ll have to make one.

The world is full of frights: public speaking, public restrooms, first dates, spiders, clowns, heights―not to mention commitment, aging, illness, and death. Everyone gets scared. But courage isn’t the absence of fear—it’s forging ahead, sweaty palms and knotty stomach be damned. Risk is unnerving, but it shifts obstacles and rewards bravery.

Happiness and courage go hand in hand. Lasting joy means pursuing your interests, desires, and goals wherever they lead—probably somewhere outside your comfort zone. If you want to be happy, you have to challenge your boundaries. You can’t cross an ocean without losing sight of shore.

This year, as you contemplate the horizons you seek, remember that you can’t make progress without making changes. Comfort roots us when we want to move on. Summon courage for your journey and expect to be rewarded. Then take a deep breath and move forward.

What do you think?