The Pursuit of (Experimental) Happiness

Where I’m ’bout to go, the lights all glow
And there’s no rejection, all I see is hope
My promised land

Promised Land, by OMI

Everyone is preparing for the conventional sense of better. Starting new companies, writing the MCAT, LSAT, enrolling kids in genius-baby programs at a year old, working that new startup from the basement.

I’ve renamed it the great Canadian Dream. For the Promised Land.

There is a lot of pressure to move on, keep moving, moving, moving. My friends have always been go-getters, but I reckon that I only feel pressured now because I was truly wandering for four months of travel.

Here are a few changes I’m making these days. I’m calling this Experimental Happiness, because, frankly, I know I want to be happy but I don’t know how to turn my journey into one laced with such yet.

The Pursuit of (Experimental) Happiness
You’re not meant to please everyone.

I run into former music students once in awhile; I have nothing but fond memories of them, and we say hi and I notice how I can’t armpit-hug them anymore.

There were ways I could’ve been a better teacher and business person–but those are details. The reality is, I was the best teacher I could’ve been at that moment, given the time and resources.

You know what, though? People remember how you made them feel, rather than what you did. It made my day when a student started singing to their performance pieces. I loved that my students were so comfortable with me.

Perhaps people will never know you spent the night pacing the floor contemplating minuscule details―the way you prep a lesson, whether your eyelashes are glued on for dinner, does it matter? Years and years down the road, they will remember the care and love you put in for them and how you made them feel.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. If they’re not pleased by your efforts, then they’re not meant to be pleased.

The Pursuit of (Experimental) HappinessPut on makeup when it makes you happy.

Beyond my Swan Lake style ballerina makeup for dance performances, I had never been too interested in makeup because I hated that a person would look completely different without makeup.

I met a great female friend while camping one year, and when we were back in the city, I discovered that she was a makeup connoisseur–with a different face from the girl I met in the forest.

I don’t like that you have to “fix your face” in the sun, or that you can’t go swimming or running―you’re not a statue–if your face is pumped with enough botox to be statuesque, you probably be outside anyways, in case a bird poops on your nose and ruins that work of art.

Faces aren’t meant to be fixed.

But sometimes you need a mask. Something to prep for the day, something to fall back on when you’re not feeling the groove. Some days I find myself more upbeat if I leave the house with makeup on. It feels like the day is worth the salt, because I’ve invested a bit into it already. I watch transgender Youtube personalities and wonder what they look like without makeup, from multiple angles.

We shouldn’t be looking for a mask per se, but instead, that little bit of a spark to keep us afloat during our lower points. Maybe it’s a song you play on the piano, maybe it’s the green tea smoothie you love.

Anyhow, your skin eats whatever is on it, and I don’t think minerals and chemicals are the best for eating.

The Pursuit of (Experimental) Happiness
Go running.

When I run as fast as I can, there is no room for anything else. The Forest Gump movie illustrates it best. Nothing matters except spinning your legs like wind turbines, at least for the next few minutes until you tire out.

If you can’t go running, try lifting. I’m told that you concentrate on breathing and count reps and that is essentially the same effect as sprinting for your life, except you also end up with great posture, which is great for musicians because you will get a better sound.

 

Every other week, I think I’m ready to take on the world. Then the man working in his garden reminds me of my dad and I mowing the lawn together and then it’s like no time has passed.

Maybe that’s why I feel stuck.

Marinah is in Switzerland; Em and Quency are in Hong Kong; Math is in Seattle.

We all have a different idea of what we’re meant to do, towards the great promised land. But please be sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

For instance, the years I spent getting the top grades to please the education system could’ve been spent in a more productive manner as there were things I should’ve learned outside of school, but did not, because I got so good at working the system.

We often go from zero to a hundred real quick, but we rarely consider why.

Where is your promised land?

8 Comments

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8 Comments

  • Reply Debra May 31, 2016 at 8:27 am

    I can really relate to your comment that ” your not meant to please everyone.” Actually everything you wrote is food for thought and very helpful to me.

    Thank You,
    Deb

    • Reply Grace Lam May 31, 2016 at 10:57 am

      Glad to hear that, Deb! You’re so sweet.

  • Reply Savannah wilson May 31, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    You should seriously write a book. I love your posts!

    • Reply Grace Lam May 31, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      You are so kind! I’ve always wanted to write a book. But first I’d need a great topic or idea…

  • Reply Rohit June 1, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    It was really nice to read this! Keep up the good work :)
    Aren’t you already pleasing everyone already?

  • Reply Ian Muir June 3, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Hi Grace, just to say a couple of things; firstly, I enjoy Artiden and what you say. It has a personal touch, a humanity, and is different. On happiness, a good definition is, “the surmounting of not unknowable obstacles towards known goals.” It may be thought that happiness was the ACHIEVEMENT of goals but if you can imagine that someone had a goal to be a concert pianist and with a magic wand got that without doing what it really takes to do that. Would they be happy? No, because the happiness comes from overcoming the obstacles to achieve that, not from just getting what they want without doing what it takes. The same applies to anything.
    I look forward to your next article.

    • Reply Grace Lam June 3, 2016 at 8:28 pm

      Thank you, Ian, for your warm comment. There’s a saying that happiness is a journey, and that makes a lot of sense to me.

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