Wake up and compromise

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The pursuit of dream may not be the same journey as the pursuit of happiness

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Happiness is not getting everything we want. Happiness is accepting what we have.

We all want glory and success. As children, we dream of our achievements as adults and all the possibilities. People will ask what we want to be when we grow up and we’ll list off all the options: actor, athlete, astronaut, doctor, etc. At some point, we need to face reality; perhaps our childhood desires are not what we want forever.

Having a dream is having a goal. When you are young you have all the potential in the world. Nothing seems impossible. You can become a doctor if you want. It’s like buying a lottery ticket, and you are anxiously awaiting the draw. You haven’t lost yet. You haven’t won either. As you grow older, you might realize that you aren’t that interested in medicine, and studying makes you sick. Pursuing a career as a doctor—not only dedicating time and money but also excelling in the programs—is likely to be torturous if that’s the case. So I ask: is it worth it for a well-paying job?

When we talk about dream jobs, we aren’t really talking about the job itself, we are talking about being successful in one particular field. The problem is that our society only shines the spotlight on certain roles, placing them on a higher pedestal than others. The CEO gets the spotlight, the lead actor gets the spotlight, the star athlete gets the spotlight, but we ignore the supporting cast. Rarely do children dream of being part of the pit crew. They want to be the driver.

We want to take our interest and transform it into a lifestyle. The problem with turning hobbies and interests into work is that we turn something we enjoy—music for example—into something tedious. Putting pressure onto anything may often destroy it. And so it goes with dreams.

We chase our dreams, but what we should do is chase our passion. Dreams are a fabrication, while our passions aren’t. Once we accept that, regardless of what we do, we’ll have to work hard, we can then hone in and identify what actually makes us happy—or not. That’s the thing about passion, it changes, and we can allow it to.

It’s not a crime to give up on your dreams. We are lucky to have an opportunity to pursue it, so don’t feel guilty. Not everyone is built to climb Mt. Everest and to be stupid enough to believe you can without the hard work is irresponsible. Dream is a finish line. Happiness is the desire to improve and seek progress. Dreams just happen. Happiness requires work. Find work that makes you happy and that may mean changing paths now.

Success is a DIY project

 

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Don’t rely on others to be happy

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Feb. 25, 2014

 

We put a lot of pressure on other people—people we don’t even know: artists, athletes, and politicians, to name a few. When they succeed we cheer them on and when they fail we mope by their corner. We pay money to attend their movies, concerts, games, and conventions just so we can be in their presence. We make false idols out of these people and invest a lot of ourselves into their well-being and achievements. But is that healthy?

Living vicariously through other people is normal. I do it, you do it, and your mother definitely does it. But how far is too far? I still remember that story about a sports fan who struck his wife after the team lost. Whether the story is true or some exaggeration, the news was appalling; yet not that surprising, since sport fans are notorious for overreacting to something they won’t even get recognition for.

So why do we invest so much in, say, a team or an athlete? Well, because there is something in our brains that allows us to relate to athletes and other people we get enjoyment from. We feel the feats they perform, like we are performing them ourselves. We feel the jubilance of a goal and the pain of a loss. It’s through this emotional high and low that we end up getting invested. It’s like watching a movie or reading a book; we feel what the characters feel. This is totally healthy, but only if there is a balance between self and other.

For most of us, we aren’t athletes, we aren’t musicians, and we aren’t actors. We need others to break us out of the stress of our lives. Our exams, our job interviews, and our dates are all ordeals we have to go through on our own, and it’s not healthy to just focus on ourselves, either. It’s important to achieve our own goals, while cheering for others. You end up creating a community within yourself. You work for you, but you find inspiration in others, while never relying on other people to improve yourself.

Would Leonardo DiCaprio winning an Oscar really make you happy? Why should it? Would Team Canada losing the gold medal upset you? Were they going to share the goal medal with you? Should you have gone on the ice for Sidney Crosby and scored for him? Probably not.

But you can still be happy, and you don’t even need Leo or Sid. You can do it all by yourself. Create goals that don’t involve other people, goals that you can achieve without the help of anyone else. It could be as simple as a diet or a physical challenge, or to reach an academic or career goal. It’s nice to see other people succeed, but remember there are always people rooting for you, and they deserve to see you succeed as well—and you owe them nothing.