Meaning and Happiness Project

Everyday I star items in my Google reader to go back to and spend more time on.  Many times they\’re recipes or pictures I want to pin or add to my excel spreadsheet of ideas. Occasionally, a post will stay on there because I know I want to delve into it more deeply.  On December 4, 2011, I came across such a post.  It\’s from a Blog called Marc and Angel Hack Life: Practical Tips for Productive Living.  This particular post had a series of 95 questions that help you focus on finding meaning and happiness.  I like the idea of finding meaning and happiness (who doesn\’t) and I think they provide a kind of guided reflection on who you are and where you\’re going and what you want.


So, I am going to attempt to answer these questions, to the best of my ability in the most honest way possible.  For me it\’s an exercise in reflection, honesty, humility, vulnerability, perseverance, commitment and self-discipline.  If I answer 5 questions a day, I should have gone through them all in about 20 days.  That\’s less than one month of trying to be focused about the important things in life.  I will do my best to keep up with these questions and hopefully, by the end of February, I will have a little more meaning and happiness in my life.  I shall commence this project now.

1. In one sentence, who are you?
I feel like this might be the hardest question to answer.  How can I possibly reduce myself to a few simple words.  I am Karen.  I have many facets of my life that I could explore, but definitively?  I don\’t even know where to begin.  My faith defines me. My personality type defines me. My career defines me.  My relationships define me.  My mission defines me.  So, I guess my answer to this question right now is this: I don\’t know, but I\’m willing to learn.
2.  Why do you matter?
I matter because I was created for a purpose.  Even if I don\’t understand what that purpose may be or how the plan of the universe fits together.  I matter to my friends, my family and my loving boyfriend.  I matter because I believe that there is something more in this life than I can possibly directly experience.  I have seen the impact people can have on one another.  I have seen the impact people have had on me.  I believe that I, too have an impact on those around me as well.
3.  What is your life motto?
To actively participate in the life I have been given and to connect to others in an engaging and profound way.
4. What\’s something that you have that everyone wants?
I think I have an energy that a lot of people don\’t have.  I get very excited about all sorts of things and nothing is too lame for me.  I am the perfect person to bring to an event that no one else wants to go to.  I don\’t get embarrassed really easily and I tend not to care too much  what other people think about me.  They might think I\’m lame for swing dancing down sixth street in front of the bars, but I think it\’s sad that more people don\’t let themselves have fun.
5. What is missing in your life?
I think the biggest thing missing in my life right now is a plan for the future or an overall goal as to where I want to be.  I like my job, but I know I probably won\’t be there forever, so what is my next step?  Do I go get my PhD and teach sociology, something I desperately wanted to do several months ago?  Will I get
married? What will my life look like? Where will I live? That lack of direction is frustrating to me right now.

6. What\’s been on your mind most lately?The future and the possibility of marrying my current boyfriend. That and possibly buying a house,

7. Happiness is a __________.

good time with good friends and family.

8. What stands between you and happiness?

Me.  Definitely me.  I get really worked up about things and I\’m very skeptical about a lot of things.  It\’s really hard to just relax and let things go and allow myself to be happy.

9. What do you need most right now?

Probably reassurance that everything is and always will be okay.  I also need to take a shower.

10. What does the child inside you long for?

To be free and to explore.  To go out and try a million new things.

11.  What is one thing right now that you are totally sure of?

That\’s a hard one for me.  I\’m not really ever sure about anything.  If I had to pick I would say I am sure that I have a very blessed life.

12. What\’s been bothering you lately?

My anxiety has been acting up lately and that\’s incredibly annoying.

13. What are you scared of?

I\’m hugely emetaphobic, so vomit would be my number one answer.  Being sick sends me debilitating panic attacks.  I\’m also afraid of making the wrong decision.

14. What has fear of failure stopped you from doing?

I\’m normally not afraid of failure.  I guess though when thinking about a failed relationship, I probably haven\’t allowed myself to really dive into anything and just see what comes.

15.  What will you never give up on?

I will never give up on learning and growing.  Once you stop doing that, you cease to be really alive.

16. What do you want to remember forever?

All the times I\’m with my entire family and how happy it is.  I want to remember what\’s important in life.

17. What makes you feel secure?

Just knowing everything will be okay.  That no matter what happens, everything is working out the way it\’s supposed to.

18. Which activities make you lose track of time?

Researching things, reading my blogs, hanging out with my friends.

19. What\’s the most difficult decision you\’ve ever made?

To finally end it with my on again off again college boyfriend.  It got to the point that I would rather be alone forever than have to be with him. But, getting there was a long and hard journey.

20. What\’s the best decision you\’ve ever made?

See the decision above.  While it was hard I am so so SO much better off now.  I really feeled like a dodged a bullet with that one.

21. What are you most grateful for?

All the people that love me in spite of all my neurotic tendencies.

22. What is worth the pain?

Exercise….at least that\’s what my personal trainer tells me.

23. In order of importance how would you rank: Happiness, Money, Love, Health, Fame?

(1) Happiness (2) Love (3) Health (4) Money (5) Fame

24. What is something you\’ve always wanted, but don\’t have yet?

My three H\’s: A House, A Hound (dog) and a Husband.

25. What was the most defining moment in your life during this past year?

Getting my current job.

26. What\’s the number one change you need to make in your life in the next twelve months?

To be more positive.

27. What\’s the number one thing you want to achieve in the next five years?

Maybe get married and figure out what I want to do for a career.

28. What is the biggest motivator in your life right now?

My family motivates me to go to the gym and live a healthier lifestyle.

29.  What will you never do?

Take a ride in the vomit-comet.  Evan wants to do it.  No thank you.

30. What\’s something you said you\’d never do, but have since done?

I said I would never give up, but some things need to be given up.

31. What\’s something new you recently learned about yourself?

Just how scared of marriage I really am and how visceral my response to such a beautiful thing is.

32. What do you sometimes pretend to understand that you really do not?


33. In one sentence, what do you wish for your future self?

I wish I will have a happy, healthy life full of growth and unencumbered by fear.

34. What worries you most about the future?

That anything can happen and you have no way of knowing how the decisions you make today will effect you for the rest of your life.

35. When you look into the past, what do you miss most?

Some very important people that changed my life.

36. What\’s something from the past that you don\’t miss at all?

The drama of my last romantic relationship.  So much over-emotional drama.  Very unnecessary.  Good riddance.

37. What recently reminded you of how fast time flies?

My sorority just had their 25th anniversary weekend this weekend and I saw friends from years ago.  It seemed like just yesterday I was pledging and now it\’s been like 5 years. Ah!

38. What is the biggest challenge you face right now?

To get some kind of control over my anxiety.  I feel like it\’s gotten worse lately and it has been super annoying to deal with.

39. In one word, how would you describe your personality?

Six 🙂  One of my best friends ever once told me that the word she would use to describe me would be \”complex\”. I would say acquired-taste.

40. What never fails to frustrate you?

Probably people being fake.  I understand it, but I think it\’s really unnecessary.  If everyone was just a little more open and honest about who they were, I think the world would (hopefully) be a more compassionate and loving place.  We\’re not very different, you and me, after all.

41. What are you known for by your friends and family?

I would say they think I\’m really engaging.  I tend to have a lot of energy and be pretty outgoing to an extent.  Probably also being loyal.

42. What\’s something most people don\’t know about you?

That\’s a tough one.  I\’m pretty open about a lot of things.  I think most people don\’t know how methodical I can be.  I might seem spontaneous, but I love lists and organization a lot.

43. What\’s a common misconception people have about you?

Some people think I don\’t like them, or they think I\’m too extreme, but in all reality, a lot of times I just talk a whole bunch.  I can act/look angry or upset, but generally it\’s not very lasting.  I\’ve been known to forget my own emotions.

44. What\’s something a lot of people do that you disagree with?

A lot of people vote straight-ticket.  I feel like if you\’re 100% a Democrat or 100% a Republican, you probably haven\’t thought about all aspects of the issues.

45. What\’s a belief you hold with which many people disagree?

I believe that God can be found anywhere, not just Christianity.  I\’m a practicing Catholic, but I think my views on God and religion are sometimes more lifestyle/culture based than many other Catholics.  It\’s not just about what you believe, it\’s also a testament to where you come from and rituals to bond people together. To me, the specifics aren\’t nearly as important as what religion provides us, both spiritually and socially.

46. What\’s something that\’s harder for you than it is for most people?

Controlling my brain.  I struggle a lot with anxiety and it\’s extremely frustrating. I often think to myself, why can\’t I just calm down and trust my logic.

47.  What are the top three qualities you look for in a friend?

1) Someone who will always be there when you need them 2) Being a Genuinely Good Person 3) Someone who inspires you in some way

48. If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?

Probably not long.  I have a really bad habit of giving myself a much harder time than other people.  I try and love myself unconditionally, but it\’s so hard when you realize that the person you are is not the person you want to portray.  That\’s a hard truth to accept.

49.  When you think of \’home\’, what specifically, do you think of?

A house full of comfort and relaxing peace.  I think of sitting on my couch with the love of my life, eating takeout in our pajamas and watching Avatar: The Last Airbender. Or playing cards/another board game. But definitely in PJ\’s and definitely with food.

50. What\’s the most valuable thing you own?

Probably my desktop computer both in monetary value and functional value.  The internet provides so much information and abilities to express yourself, it\’s hard to imagine life without it.  I\’m also a huge fan of the Winnie the Pooh card Evan got me when I graduated.  I want it framed.  But, that being said, I try and not get too attached to material things.  Things come and go.  Time spent doing what you love with the people you love is what makes life worth living.

51. If you had to move 3000 miles away, what would you miss most?

Austin is a fun city, so probably just all the cool things you can do here.  I\’d also miss my family a whole lot, warm weather in the winter and Mexican food.

52. What would make you smile right now?
One of Evan\’s amazingly loving and sweet text messages.  Here\’s a sample:
\”Can we live long and happy lives together where we protect and take care of each other?\”
\”Te Quiro Como Aqui a la luna\” — He says this to me constantly
\”I bragged about you today :)\”
Be jealous. 🙂
53.  What do you do when nothing else seems to make you happy?
Go outdoors and talk to people.  If I get too antisocial I get very upset.  I try and relish the world around me more.
54.  What do you wish did not exist in your life?
I wish clutter and cooking did not exist.  Well, I don\’t mind cooking, I just don\’t like cleaning up afterwards and all the prep work before hand.  Instant, delicious, homemade, healthy food would just be fabulous.
55.  What should you avoid to improve your life?
I should avoid crappy food.
56. What is something you would hate to do without for a day
Pinterest….how sad is that?
57.  What’s the biggest lie you once believed was true?
That I had to be a certain way to be worthy of love, or to be good person, or to be saved.  God made me the way I am, why should I spend my time trying to be someone else?
58.  What\’s something bad that happened to you that made you stronger?
I didn\’t get into UT  at first and had to go to Arlington.  It sucked, but I worked my butt off and I know I appreciated it tons more.
59.  What\’s something nobody could ever steal from you?
My perspective.
60. What\’s something you disliked when you were younger that you truly enjoy today?
I\’ve enjoyed working out lately, weirdly.  That\’s never been the case before.
61. What are you glad you quit?
My previous relationship.  It was poison, poison I tell you.
62. What do you need to spend more time doing?
Focusing on my personal development, spiritual and mental well-being.
63. What are you  naturally good at?
Researching things.  Finding good recipes, places to eat, things to do, etc.
64. What have you been counting or keeping track of recently?
I have been (trying) to keep track of my food intake, because I am trying very hard to lose some weight and live a healthier lifestyle.  The gym has not been the hard part, the food…that\’s a much harder obstacle to tackle.  I love bread, cheese, wine and chocolate.  I\’m French, what can I say?
65. What has that little voice inside your head been saying lately?
Is this really the thing you should be doing?
66. What\’s something you should always be careful with?
Your words.  I have a really bad habit of this, but I know words can have a lot of impact.
67. What should always be taken seriously?
Your relationships with other people.
68. What should never be taken seriously?
Life in general.  It\’s easy to get bent out of shape over the small stuff, but it\’s ultimately not worth it.
69. What are three things you can\’t get enough of?
1) Evan 2) Doing fun and exciting things 3) Blog feeds
70. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
Wear sweats to work.
71.  What fascinates you?
72. What\’s the difference between being alive and truly living?
Being alive just happens, truly living is an active choice to experience things.
73. What\’s something you would do everyday if you could?
Sleep in.
74.  At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
Lately I\’ve felt that way working out.  The burning muscles are a constant reminder of my mortality.
75. Which is worse, failing or never trying?
Never trying.  If you never try, you will automatically fail.
76. What makes you feel incomplete?
When I do not have social interaction.  I need social interaction.  Desperately.
77. When did you experience a major turning point in your life?
When I decided to switch from Student Affairs to Sociology in graduate school probably.  It kept me where I am and opened up a lot of other opportunities.
78. What or who do you wish you lived closer to?
Some of my dear friends live too far away.  Rachel in Denton. Jennifer is all the way in Washington DC.  I also want to live near at beach.  That would be nice.
79. If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?
That you don\’t have to be a certain way to be worthy of being loved/saved/taken care of/etc.
80. What\’s something you know you can count on?
My family.  They are amazing.
81. What makes you feel comfortable?
Cuddling with my sweetheart
82. What\’s something about you that has never changed?
My basic personality.  I\’ve always been talkative and relatively outgoing and wanting to participate in tons of things.
83. What will be different about your life in exactly one year?
I probably won\’t be living with my parents.  I might even be married…eek!
84. What mistakes do you make over and over again?
Letting people get to me and influence my decisions, because ultimately, I have a very hard time trusting myself and my own ability to make good decisions.
85. What do you have a hard time saying \”no\” to?

I have a hard time saying no to the people I love.

86. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?

Jobwise? I\’m kind of doing it.  It\’s not where I want to be for the rest of my life.  Lifewise? I\’m trying to do what I believe in really hard.

87. What\’s something that used to scare you, but no longer does
88. What promise to yourself do you still need to fulfill?
To eat better and to start living my life to the fullest.
89. What do you appreciate most about your current situation?
I appreciate how often I get to see my family.  I live with 1/2 of my immediate family of origin and I know it\’s not going to be this way forever.  It\’s nice to come home to people who love you and are invested in your well-being, not to mention, I often have built in buddies to go do things with.
90. What\’s something simple that makes you smile?
Fireflies and Christmas lights make me ridiculously happy.
91. So far, what has been the primary focus of your life?
My primary focus has almost always been to plan (usually in vain) what\’s coming next.  I\’m a future-oriented thinker.
92. How do you know when it\’s time to move on?

When you\’re more unhappy with them than you would be without them

93. What\’s something you wish you could do one more time?
I wish I could sit down with my friend Joe and talk about life.
94. When you\’re 90-years-old, what will matter to you the most?

The people around me.

95. What would you regret not fully doing, being, or having in your life?
I would regret not fully allowing myself to love and be loved.  I would regret not having a family.

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