Prioritizing time for passions necessary for happiness


Illustration by Al Solecki

Al Solecki, columnist

The circle of life: a common phrase not intended to mean your personal life has to spin endlessly in a monotonous and trying series of repetitive motions and scheduled irrelevancies. And yet, here we are!

On that optimistic note, this description may sound all too familiar to the average high school chump.

Through personal experience, I’ve heard and thought it all: “I’m tired of this class,” “I can’t do another fishbowl,” “I’m going to have a bonfire and ceremoniously light this assignment ablaze,” or classically, “I’m just done.”

Over the years in high school, I’ve learned that scheduling and planning are important skills for students who want to avoid trouble for themselves later. Unfortunately, I’ve still never really been this student, still preferring the late night adrenaline to boring planning processes. However, recently, I’ve come to see the skills of planning and prioritization as things we should all take with us and use in a way that inspires and motivates our happiness.

Understanding how to prioritize happiness, just like you’d prioritize schoolwork, is effective in life just as it is in school. Moreover, prioritizing your happiness will consequently help you do better work all around.

But what do I mean, “prioritizing happiness?” No, I don’t just mean watching Netflix instead of finishing that 50 question Webassign due tomorrow because that’d make you happy. Unfortunately, that is actually just irresponsible. I don’t mean to say we should condone instant gratification if it means greater ramifications in the long run.

I mean to say that when I started penciling in breaks, planning time to sketch or walk to break up the homework hours after the 3:15 bell, that’s when I felt myself working better, but more importantly, being happier.

Just the other week, I decided a 30 minute break to play piano was in order, so I sat down at the bench and started playing. By the end of it, I had a new song and a feeling of excitement, knowing I had something fun to pick at later. Homework was much more bearable after my nasty mood was out of the way.

Some of the best things you ever do will likely be a product of something you love. Reserving time for myself to play music made me happier in more ways than one, and completely changed my mindset from the moment I sat down at the bench to the moment I started working again.

It almost seems like we’re programmed to go through the motions because it’s been misunderstood by students that college is the end-all goal — the key to a career — and that a career is the pinnacle of all our life’s work. But there is no pinnacle of life.

It’s taxing to deprive yourself of small tokens of happiness day to day just because your vision’s locked on something 12 years down the road. For    the amount of time we spend alive, you’d think we’d be able to carve out more time for actually living.

I’m the first to admit that my schedule gets the best of me sometimes. Even a lot of times. Making the decision to put down an assignment that I know needs to get done isn’t an easy one. It’s also worth it to add that stepping away from something isn’t always the answer, and you shouldn’t be discouraged by all adversity that meets you.

But identifying when it’s the right time for some fun is a critical skill that can help you prioritize your own mental health first, which is the only way we’ll ever do anything well anyways.

So what am I saying we should do here? What’s something you can do every day that ensures you’re excited to wake up and do something tomorrow? What will you do in the time you set aside for yourself, and how can you make the most out of the moments you aren’t setting aside, but rather just experiencing by the entropy life innately offers?

Well, there’s the best part: you decide.