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You Should Max Out Your Happiness

07/05/2015 10:17 EDT | Updated 07/05/2016 05:59 EDT
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Young woman lying on grass

Question: Does everyone feel this way? Answer: Probably, yes.

You know the feeling I'm talking about -- it's as familiar as that one sweater you often pull out, and you know it doesn't really look that good on you, but you always seem to forget until you're out at dinner with friends and everyone else decided to dress just a little more stylish than you and just a little more grown-up. It's that feeling of distinct uneasiness and unhappiness even though everything seems to be going, you know, alright.

In scouring the internet while I tell my husband I'm busy working so please don't bother me and just do the dishes without me thanks that would be great, I've come across a vast selection of these articles. Most of them pinpoint this issue as a distinct millennial problem, one that only plagues those of us in our early twenties who just can't be happy with our entry-level jobs and upsizing from an Ikea couch to like, a real couch. However, in a refusal to place this problem solely on the year I was born, I doubt this is just a hipster issue; we're just more vocal about our unwillingness to settle for mostly happy.

In an effort to boil this down to one idea, that's what I've netted out on. That I'm mostly happy. I enjoy my job. I have excellent friends. I have someone to give me a back massage while we watch Game of Thrones. I have finally learned to buy the appropriate sized pants for my waistline, and my hairstyle has come a long way from that phase where I only straightened my bangs and left the rest curly. On paper, this is all pretty damn great, and I'd give myself a solid 8/10 at life. It's just that remaining 2/10 that's sometimes missing.

This other 20 per cent is, in my opinion, the zest of life. It's those moments you get caught up in and find yourself wondering if this is really your life - is it actually possible to be this excruciatingly happy? It's wearing a denim vest and crowd surfing at a Matt and Kim concert you've been waiting years to attend. It's the road trip to a different city where only pure adventure awaits and the only plan you have includes playing Truth or Dare with strangers and not thinking about that speeding ticket you just got. It's hiding confetti in your fanny pack at the bar and waiting until they finally play your Biggie Smalls request to bust it out.

Now that I've had a taste of the great life, the mediocre just doesn't cut it. Buying a shoe rack, separating the whites for the wash, and making sure your Kobo is charged just aren't very exciting tasks. These grown-up things that scream of responsibility are draining my energy, and all I want to do is throw on a crop top, get a little bit day-drunk on craft beer and practice my twerking (it's really coming along, guys). I'm afraid I'll spend my days pondering the benefits of switching to flax-seed bread and forget that I'm allowed to be more exciting than this.

A few years ago, the phenomenon of the Man Child arrived in pop culture. An adult who, though of a certain age where you should definitely have a TFSA and perhaps a clothing steamer, eschewed responsibility and spent time playing Diablo III on X-Box and eating Froot Loops at 3 p.m. While looked down upon by people like their friends who already have babies, their high school English teachers, and guys who wear suits to the bar, I find myself dreaming about these guys on an almost nightly basis. In my dreams, I am one of them. I am wearing an obnoxious sweatshirt of a cat in outer space as a dress, because even though it's really too short for that, I feel like I can get away with it. I'm drinking a very strong margarita out of a cup shaped like a pineapple, and I'm eating cake for breakfast. I have fake gold tattoos and am playing a board game I made up (it's called World President and it's available in 2016, pre-order yours now!) with strangers I just met last night, but we're already best friends and my Snapchat Story has 316 views. I am happy.

Some might call this a quarter-life crisis. I am wise enough to know that it is not a crisis; it's a revelation. It's a journey to find those two remaining happiness points that will make my life complete, and the realization that for me, right now, those won't come in the form of buying a house, or having a baby, or remembering to take the clothes out from the dryer. They might someday, and I hope they do, because I'm running out of fake gold tattoos, but not today.

Trial and error is responsible for many great inventions of our time. (I would list several here for you, but my strong suit in the world of examples is more along the lines of interesting Keanu Reeves facts, and less about actual inventions.) It's my hope it will also be responsible for maximizing happiness. Like my Aunt Alison has told me many times growing up as a very picky eater, you don't know what you like until you try it. So try getting those bangs. Try a road trip to Boyertown, Pennsylvania. Try a nose piercing, or a tattoo, or stand-up comedy, or a hip hop class, or learning guitar, or reading books about happiness, or going to a nude beach. Try anything and everything that isn't permanent (tattoos don't really count, also, they look cool), and do your best to fill those happiness holes with whatever bits of joy and love and laughter you can, because that is one of the best bits of life. That you can just do stuff, and try it out, and see what you like, and if you love it, great, and if you don't, who the dude cares because you can just stop and do something else.

The 8/10 is real life. It will come, in time, for most people, in one form or another. Those are the joys of celebrating your 25th wedding anniversary, getting a promotion, buying your first car, and signing the lease on your first home. Those are wonderful, important moments that give us our foundation of happiness. Without them, we crumble, and the Man Child in all of us is stuck in a pre-pubescent world of fart jokes and eating popsicles until we puke. And to be honest, I can only eat about four popsicles until my brain freezes anyway.

8/10 is good, and it is important, and once we achieve it, it gives us the freedom to explore ourselves and what it is we want, more than just what we need.

But we can't forget about the 2/10 remaining pieces, where so much of the joy of life sits, where we need to continue to explore. It's hard to be completely happy sometimes; it's a full-time job that we need to work at. But like forcing yourself to watch all of Season 1 of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia because you heard it starts to get really good in Season 2 (and it does), it's worth the effort. We all deserve better than 8/10; we deserve more than being mostly happy. So come on, guys -- a round of fanny pack confetti tattoos on me.

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