Recently, I watched a lecture on YouTube from the “SHU Talks: Happiness” series. This particular video was from Imam Gazmend Aga, a Sacred Heart University chaplain.
For me, there was an excerpt from the video that really stood out: “Faith equips us with the tools to combat depression and hopelessness, and there is nothing wrong with accepting and acknowledging your grief. The strength of a believer, despite all the pain and grief—that, in essence, is what true faith is.”
Aga continued, “Trust God’s word, even if the suffering feels endless and you feel yourself getting exhausted from the weight of it all. Do not lose hope, for there is something even better waiting for you right around the corner. Nothing remains forever, not even hardships.”
Aga’s words struck a chord with me. Early in the pandemic, it was hard for me to see light at the end of the tunnel. I was out of work (even before COVID-19), I was living at home with my parents, and not much was going on in my life. I had moved back home in July 2019 after spending four incredible years in New York City. I wasn’t making much money, and I always had roommates to deal with, but I was happy because I was doing things and living life.
Fast forward to the start of the pandemic, and I was outright miserable. I cried a lot, way more than usual. It was during this time, though, that I began to realize that this pandemic would be temporary, and it would pass. Like Aga said, “Nothing remains forever, not even hardships.”
The turning point for me was leaving my brief cell phone sales job in July 2020 after two awful weeks. I did not want to spend my life working random jobs and feeling sad most of the time. Leaving that job gave me the kickstart that I needed to pursue my true passion of working in journalism and media. I applied to several schools and eventually chose Sacred Heart.
Just days after starting the fall semester, more stars began to align. I interviewed with Trader Joe’s, went on a second interview, and landed a Crew Member position with the store. I spend my shifts having fun, talking with customers, and trying out delicious Trader Joe’s products.
That’s when I really started to feel some semblance of happiness again. While work and school keep me busy and focused, I still have my bad days and anxieties from time to time, but I’ve learned to accept them. I just remember what Aga said about being grateful for what I do have: “During the hard times, we tend to forget the blessings we have around us and instead focus more on the things going wrong for us. Remind yourself that you have a lot to be grateful for. Do not make yourself anxious over the unknown outcomes. Play your role the best you can and leave the rest to God.”
He’s right. In my opinion, happiness does not mean feeling happy all the time. That kind of mindset simply doesn’t exist. What matters more is aiming to better yourself while finding contentment and taking time to acknowledge the things you are grateful for in your everyday life.