Almost all of the seats are filled in the Chumash Auditorium on the Cal Poly campus Feb. 13. The room is buzzing with the talk of students recounting their day, a test they bombed (lingo for didn't do well on, for those not in the know), or a Snapchat they received from someone they like.
The students are in attendance for the Associated Students Inc. event, For the Love of Joy, a speaking engagement with SoulPancake co-founder Rainn Wilson and General Manager Shabnam Mogharabi. SoulPancake is a media and entertainment company that tells the stories of human connection through online content—mainly videos.
Before I go on, let me say if you're reading this thinking I'll write just about Wilson because he played the role of Dwight Schrute on The Office, then you can take your paper needs elsewhere because that salesman hasn't pushed reams of paper since 2013.
Now that that's out of our systems, Wilson not only started the positive-storytelling platform, he also has a hand in its content. But the real orchestrator is Mogharabi. She shares with the young adult audience that she's learned that joy is one of the most powerful and rebellious things a person can do or have.
Why should people care about joy when there's so much negativity happening locally, nationally, and globally? Mogharabi says there are so many distractions—from social media, to news, to politics—but it's all noise that makes it hard for us as individuals to listen to ourselves.
She asks the audience to take out their phones, open up a Google web browser, type in "college makes me feel," and to shout the results they get from their phones. There are various answers, but they're all negative: depressed, suicidal, like a failure, hopeless, and lonely.
It's been four years since I graduated college, and honestly I can say most of the time I don't miss it. It just reminds me of the anxiety of working on multiple projects, working full time, and trying my hand at being a DJ on KCPR, while simultaneously balancing my relationships with friends and family. I was trying to get the most out of my two years, as I was a transfer.
That seems to be an age-old theme that all college students can relate to: exhausting yourself to get the full college experience. That way you're hopefully prepared for what comes next. It's not a new concept, but it's something almost everyone goes through and somehow navigates in order to get their degree.
Mogharabi says through the thick of it we forget how to dial in what brings us and others joy. It's not too late to turn that around. For starters it's OK to be joyful; it's not taboo. People often think that if you're joyful you're naïve, she said, but that's not the case.
After that barrier she said some tips to get on the joy train are having gratitude, being authentic, and not comparing yourself to others.
Let's break this down: While you might be grateful that your mom has been your role model, tell her you're thankful for her—show your gratitude. In terms of authenticity, don't wear a shirt that says "authentic" on it and call it a day. Be genuine in your actions toward others and yourself. Comparing yourself to others is the thief of joy. You'll never attain joy if you're constantly finding yourself saying, "I like her hair better than mine," or "Her project was way better than mine."
When I look back at my college days, I had a lot of these moments: forgetting to give gratitude, not being authentic with myself, and comparing myself to others. I was just too busy trying to get things done.
Now that I'm out of that mindset, I realize that I now, more than ever, show gratitude toward my parents, the two people who have really molded me into the adult I am. I try to be authentic with the people around me and stay true to myself daily. I admire people for their characteristics and traits, but I try not to compare myself to others, because we're all different.
With all that in mind, I can really appreciate the things that bring me joy: long phone conversations with my mom (she lives out of the area); cooking a meal with my boyfriend; and enjoying the outdoors with friends. There are so many actions and things that bring me joy, but I think when I'm listening to others, I can appreciate their thoughts. I've found they are glad when I lend an ear. There's a lot of joy in that for me.
I hope the students in that auditorium take a minute to really think about their hectic schedules and reconfigure them. Find some time to experience joy. Δ
Staff Writer Karen Garcia is letting in some joy at firstname.lastname@example.org.