Live, laugh, love

Are you alive or simply living?

by Hemang Sharma

In a few days, the University of Minnesota campus will resemble a post-apocalyptic ghost town, when most of us will rock this casbah — leaving behind the diabolical chaos of finals, the over-caffeinated beverages, meteoric stress levels and a devastating sleep schedule.

We will be liberated from lengthy readings, classes, assignments and even the annoying rants of Minnesota Daily columnists. The end of another school year is a reason to be happy.

Happiness, they say, is a state of mind. Most of you reading this would define “happiness” in your own way, and rightfully so. Some would point to a car, a significant other, yoga pants or a burning ambition. But the idea of happiness is universal; it makes us rejoice, smile and be thankful and gives a reason to live.

I speak to everyone, especially to the graduating seniors who will have their own oysters after commencement speeches, no matter what idea of happiness they perceive. Do not get caught up in your desire to succeed to the extent that you miss out on the little things in life that really make you happy and make you question your priorities toward the end.

Ask yourself this: When the Grim Reaper arrives, would you be able to say that you lived a life that made and kept you happy? Or would you, like many others, have regrets?

“I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

The aforementioned are the five biggest regrets people have had, as documented by a palliative nurse in Australia. Bronnie Ware chronicled the remorse of her dying patients, who had long, eventful lives yet were left wishing they had taken a moment to appreciate the beauty in life. Because, believe it or not, it is often too convenient to lose sight — to lose track of people, things and ideas that make us who we are in an attempt to be something or somewhere that we have prophesied ourselves to be.

Ask yourself, are you happy? Are you enjoying life with your friends and family? Are you making time for fun?  Are you making time to do the things you love, the things that make you smile? Because if you’re not, then you’ll regret this lost time.

This is our time. We are at an age where many responsibilities aren’t there to weigh us down. Use this time;  live it. No regrets. As many Facebook picture captions say: YOLO.

Explore, travel, volunteer, have experiences, make questionable decisions, fall in love, do what makes you happy.

Don’t get a job unless you’re hurting for money. And if you do, do something that makes you happy because a job that pays a few less dollars but allows you a chance to do something you love and/or to have evenings and weekends off will be a more fun job, and you’ll be happy.

I’m not saying give up on your final interview to join NASA and go hike Mount Everest tomorrow. You must find the right balance between what is important and what is necessary. If your job or money makes you happy, if you want flashy cars and a big house desperately, then that’s your happiness — and don’t steer from it. But find time for the people who love and care for you because these people will always be there for you, regardless of your successes and failures.

I read the premise of Ware’s book last year and was haunted by the nightmarish scenarios that these people described. I moved to the city of my dreams on pure instinct to chase my dreams. I knew it would make me happy. I’m more ambitious than anyone I know. I believe in hard work and giving  your all. But no matter how hard you work, always make time for fun, to tell the people in your life that you love them and show them that you care. I can assure you I’ll have no regrets when I die. Can you?