We Keep Ourselves Smiling

ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTORS Kenneth Miller Samantha Spoto Nakie Uzeiri

Feelings are temporary, but of course, we strive to revel in some of them longer and more frequently than others. While the majority of people may consider happiness to be an optimal emotion, the conditions and circumstances that make a person happy often differ greatly.

In any respect, figuring out what makes you happy is your own responsibility to determine and then later implement. We at BTR have taken the task in doing so–and the results were quite unique to our personalities.

Tanya’s Take

Photo by Tanya Silverman.

People who meet me will probably learn in less than an hour’s time that felines bring me felicity.

So, if I frequent a particular area, I’ll make it a point to stake out where the neighborhood cat hot spots are for future reference.

In the apartment building next to my neighborhood laundromat, I know there’s one pretty tortoise shell who naps in the first-story windowsill. When I venture out to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I make sure to take a stroll past–or enter–PS9 Pet Supplies to get a glimpse of their cage of cute kittens.

As a seasoned traveler, my cat navigation is naturally not New York centric. When I’d visit Ulsan, South Korea, there was one soju bar where a friendly calico named Naru hung out on the deck and crunched on kibbles out of a jiggae bowl.

Noting where all of these felines thrive in their respective locations grants me the opportunity to know where I can find a guaranteed pick-me-up, even when I’m in the foulest of moods. If you’re not a cat person, I’m sure there’s some theme that’s dear to you that you can pinpoint in the places you go.

Kenny’s Take

Photo courtesy of Heather.

Granted, it’s been a long day and a late night. I collapse at the sight of my futon and watch the same episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for the eighth time. I respond to last-minute, fleeting emails, and curl into a ball. This is my daily life; I’m here, but not really.

At this point, I usually think it best to just fall asleep and wake up anew. Then, my eye catches the glimmer of metallic nail polish and I’m revitalized.

Painting my nails has always been something overtly personal. I apply each layer of goo with hopes of jazzing up a sight that I happen to stare at for a healthy portion of my days. I’m elated as I attempt (and massively fail) to paint each cuticle with an individual design, even if it’s just a swirl or a few polka dot-looking dabs. Sometimes a passerby will comment on my dazzling nail wear, but most of the time it’s self-affirming; it makes me confident.

The true beauty of nail decor–for me–does not align with the neatest, most distinguishable patterns, however. Executing a happy life is dependent on creativity and self-expression. Any which way I can dip my feet (or nails) into that cesspool, and I’m happy.

Nakie’s Take

Photo by Nakie Uzeiri.

Just 10 minutes away from my suburban home awaits the beautiful Ramapo Reservation in Northern New Jersey. For many years now, I have found myself wandering the reservation’s trails, and while sometimes it’s nice to hike with a friend or two, what makes me happiest is going solo–with the exception of my dog of course.

The furthest hiking trail in the park leads to the top of the reservation, an area known as the overlook. Here there are views of everything from endless amounts of shrubbery to the NYC skyline. Sitting atop the overlook and absorbing every view leaves me at peace with my thoughts, which I very much consider my happy place.

There’s something extremely tranquil about being surrounded by nature that has a way of positively transforming your mood. If you don’t have time for exploring trails and such, maybe just taking a short walk or a new route home can allow for some much-needed alone time.

Though once again, if you’re like me, you might enjoy bringing your canine friend along to accompany you.

Samantha’s Take

Photo courtesy of Erin Kohlenberg.

Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'”

Lately, I try to abide by Vonnegut’s wise words. I have become more appreciative and vocal about the things that bring me joy. Whether hiking a mountain or simply lounging around, I tell my friends how grateful I am to be sharing the moment with them. Reminding the people you care about, the ones who effortlessly make you happy, is important to do as often as possible.

Other times, I take pen to paper and write about all the wonderful adventures and opportunities I have had. A journal full of delightful memories is always nice to look back on, especially on days when I am feeling low.

Whether it be vocalized or written, recognizing and acknowledging happiness is something we should all take more time to do.