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Melissa’s Motives: Finding spontaneous happiness during monotonous weeks

Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 10:13 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, June 26, 2014 1:13 p.m. CDT

Sometimes we just have those humdrum work weeks, when the routine looks like:

Monday – Back to work already?

Tuesday – So far till the weekend; I can’t do this.

Wednesday – Hump day, I’m in the depths of work.

Thursday – Almost the weekend.

Friday – The weekend, finally.

I mean, let’s be honest! I had one of those weeks recently. It forced me to think: How can I make those weeks a little bit brighter?

Where can working people find spontaneous happiness in the midst of monotony?

I take my philosophy from my Benet Academy high school teacher Mr. Kazlauskas. He always told my class to notice the little things. Take a little time to have a conversation with someone you haven’t talked to in a while, he said. Look out the classroom window on a nice day. Appreciate the flowers in a neighbor’s yard while walking your dog.

At first, I didn’t believe him. I’ve got better things to do with my time, I told myself. I need to stay focused.

However, I soon found myself relentlessly stressed out over the next assignment, the traffic on the road, little siblings, etc.

So I gave his advice a whirl.

Instead of chowing down dinner to start my homework as quickly as possible, I appreciated the taste of the food and my family’s presence. Instead of speed walking to class, I complimented a girl’s outfit on the way. Just a few minutes made all the difference in the world. I found myself in a better mood and smiling more often.

But, this is just one philosophy. How do others spice up their work weeks?

When I asked Julie Yurko, president and CEO of the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva, where she finds spontaneous happiness in her busy life, she responded: “Experiencing something with someone and we find humor in it. I love to laugh. ... It’s being with people, and being able to interact with people.”

Yurko’s philosophy isn’t just about making her own day brighter – it’s about making others’ as well. She recently posted a quote in her office: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.” She said her goal is, “Whenever you’re interacting with someone, make sure that there’s a happy moment in that interaction, something positive, something to lift them up and encourage them.”

Doctor of Psychology Michael Pica, a clinical psychologist in St. Charles, bases his philosophy on his experiences with many patients. He said, “I think sometimes when people neglect themselves too much and spend their lives, maybe, over-pleasing other people, or being too afraid to assert what they need in an appropriate way, I think then that starts to cause them to feel alienated and then unhappy.” He said that what makes a happier person on a daily basis is being “most comfortable in their own skin, someone who is true to themselves and doesn’t necessarily ... compromise themselves or their needs for others.”

In response to Pica’s comment, let’s stop taking ourselves so seriously! Embrace your originality, and stop worrying about what others will think.

So, I encourage you to take these small steps to make room for spontaneous happiness in your stressful life. I promise it’ll make your work day a little bit brighter.

• Melissa Hutter is an intern at the Kane County Chronicle. She is a rising sophomore at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and plans on double majoring in English and music performance. She loves orchestra, running in nature and reading classic novels. Contact Hutter at mhutter@shawmedia.com.

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