Childhood happiness is the simplest and the purest form of happiness. My childhood happiness got eroded during university. Childhood happiness, once lost, is gone forever. However, adulthood happiness - that is very close to childhood's - can be built/discovered.
Just like every children, I clearly knew what made me happy. They were simple things like video games, music, sweet food and messing around with friends. I was somewhat blessed to have this knowledge throughout my entire teenage life. I never struggled to stay happy throughout school.
TL;DR, my university life was pretty stressful. I was financially on the line so I had to work 20h/week part-time while studying full-time. I was living in a tiny unit that could barely fit a single bed and a desk. The entire floor of around 25 people shared the kitchen, bathroom, shower and one washing machine.
I met great people there. I am not sure what made me bond close to them: sharing the amenities together or comradeship of surviving in the trench-like living conditions.
After some point during my first year of university, all I could think of was sleep or rest. There was nothing I could think of to make my happy. Whenever I had time for myself, I was always on the bed, dozing off.
I could remember having the long-lasting dream of making video games and doing things I love for living (ie. coding and systems design), but all those memories felt very distant and unfamiliar. Nothing made my heart tingle like it used to.
I wasn't depressed, but everything felt blunt and annoying. There was constant anger bottled inside, without the knowledge of to whom it was towards (reviewing now, it was probably towards my status and quality of life). I mistreated a lot of my friends and acquaintances back then, which remains as one of my unforgettable regrets and fuel for current daily human interactions.
To this day, I am not sure what exactly made me lose my childhood happiness. Maybe it was the repetition of never-ending busy days. Maybe it was coping with adulthood. Maybe it was the fear of uncertain future. Maybe I got tired of counting numbers in my bank account and sacrificing my meals for rent. Maybe it was the declining relationship with my family. Maybe I could feel my age burdening on me as my gaming skills got slower and more blunt.
I graduated with good grades, a job and a couple of friends. I was already a functioning independent adult, which ticked the boxes of 'successful university graduation' in my book.
Unfortunately, there was no eureka moment that fished out my knowledge of happiness from the void. The only change was: working full-time started helping me gain financial stability. However, positive bank account didn't contribute to anything other than allowing me to buy food or things I wanted time to time.
Thanks to basic financial stability, I declared myself meeting the basics of modern human life - 3 meals per day plus adequate sleep and rest. I started doing things I didn't for a long time in search for something interesting to do - singing, making games and most importantly, reading.
I was bored of reading nerdy computers science or maths books. Random fiction books were mediocre at best. I started tracing back my memories to find people who enjoyed reading.
There is a mentor in my life - he was my tutor in the university. He had deep interest in philosophy and read tonnes of books. Back in university, it sounded like an absolute waste of my life and time to worry about anything other than putting bread on my dinner table tonight.
I thought 'why not' and Googled philosophy books. I found Nicomachean Ethics. It had 'ethics' in the title, and I was somewhat interested in AI and ethics back then. I decided to pick up the book.
This blog won't elaborate the contents of the book. The first few chapters dives deeply into happiness. Here are some things I learnt and fixed:
Other than those, I also starting doing more creative things - playing music, singing, painting. They help me express things I can't put into words or share with others. This is something I do purely for myself, never to show or share. Because I am earning my living by coding, I have ability to express myself in art freely without any expectations or constraints. This is the the best decision in my life so far.
Anyway, I can now proudly say I am living a blessed life with loved ones around me.
If your life is happy and content, thank people around you. Please take care of your loved ones and be there for them. Just be mindful to not put all your happiness into one basket.
If your life is far from happiness, don't stress. You will find it, try different things and your brain will lead you towards happiness. Our brains are, in the end, created to converge towards happiness. Pretend you are self-training your neural network :)