Human beings are social creatures and there's no denying that many people feel an absolute need to be surrounded by others, even if they are not actively communicating with everyone. A person who does not have an opportunity to be in the presence of – or, more importantly, to interact with – others will often slide into depression. This can certainly explain some of the low points I've experienced over the last four years as human contact has been primarily limited to a handful of people, with most interactions being required to end within a matter of minutes. Some of this had to do with the restrictions expected on account of COVID-19, but this was not the only limiting factor. However, over the last four months, I've found myself interacting with several dozen people in person and calling family on a regular basis. Interestingly, I've also noticed a marked improvement in my outlook on life.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
– Mahatma Gandhi

The past 120 days or so have been quite the rollercoaster. There were times when I felt lower than low. There were times when I felt as though I were floating above the clouds. Recent days are not nearly as heady anymore but, with the daily patterns starting to feel routine, there is a sense of contentment and forward progress. One welcome result of this positivity is a feeling of happiness that is strong enough to push away the negativity that occasionally encroaches on the day. I can think honestly. I can speak honestly. I can act honestly.

Happiness Is …

Asinine as it may seem, this has completely transformed how I perceive the world and people have noticed.

There's no denying that I miss the people I once shared a home with. That said, I do not believe it would have been possible to dedicate the time necessary for the thought and introspection that has resulted in this new worldview without the chaos and uncertainty that marked the darkest hours of these past four months. Even my time in detention – including the last day when I had all but given up hope – was worth the stress and anxiety. Because now when I look in the mirror I no longer see a coward without direction. Instead there is a person who is voluntarily taking on responsibilities, interacting with people to accomplish goals, making new friendships, and moving forward.

While life will continue to throw curveballs my way every so often, I'm hopeful that this new perspective and the additional friendships will reduce the stress and anxiety I would have felt previously.