Internal Happiness

by Joshua Serrano-Ildefonso

My name is Joshua Serrano and I grew up in Gainesville, Georgia. I am a current sophomore at Emory University majoring in finance. My hobbies include tennis, music production, film, and investing.

Essay by Joshua Serrano-Ildefonso

I believe in internal happiness, something I couldn’t understand growing up. As a kid, I radiated towards tangible objects: my phone, clothes, shoes, and food. Mom, can you buy me the new iPhone? Dad, I want new Nike shoes. Let’s eat out for dinner at an Italian place. I asked and demanded anything I thought gave me happiness. After a while, I came to a revolutionary conclusion. Objects don’t define who I am. More importantly, objects should not be my source of happiness. It took some meditating and lots of honesty with myself to discover inner peace and happiness.

We all have experienced glimpses of inner peace. They are the moments you are taken aback and wish to stay forever: moments like watching the water from the showerhead stream onto your body, hearing an entrancing melody from your favorite song or spending the day with the people you love.

My descent into the world of inner happiness began on a road trip. My friends and I were headed to Destin, Florida, for the week. As we drove along the Florida coast, I had lots of time for gratitude and reflection. The ocean was a reminder of tranquility and peace. Truly, the ocean was a reminder of the intangible—my friends.

Again, one of my happiest moments in life was playing tennis. My high school team was playing their last match of the year. I was playing a doubles game with an incredible teammate who was able to hit fast and deep serves. Yet, I somehow found myself serving to the opponent. About two feet from the middle of the baseline, I bounced the fresh neon-yellow ball three times before tossing it up into the air. As the ball reached its peak and started to descend, my arm arched up to slice serve it over the lofty net. The ball kicked off the ground away from my opponents and right smack into one of the holes of the fence. Game. It was my last year on the team, and I was happy from the relationships and memories I had made.

It was my choices that ultimately led me to be in these circumstances, but it was through my gratitude that I discovered inner peace. “Be grateful for what you have,” I can already hear my mom repeating this famous saying. There is so much meaning in it. With technology and new toys coming out every day, there has been a noticeable cultural shift towards materialism. However, I still believe in friendships, relationships, laughter, and love. I believe in intangible things. The things we should really hold onto.

I think everyone is born with happiness, but life’s externalities drain it. Life is truly abundant, and it was through darkness and chaos that I learned to find inner peace, to bring balance and love back into my life, and to appreciate the power of the human spirit. In the end, I took responsibility for my life and chose how to feel about it—the same choice everyone has.