The times in life when I was the most happy, not just happy, but fully satisfied and content, have a common thread. I read an article issuing the challenge to find two or three moments in your life when you were blissfully happy and remember those times. Think on those times and find the common thread. My three are:
- The start of our honeymoon - in the car, driving through a small town and stopping at the local car wash to clean off the shoe polish, then onto the interstate to head out of state for the first time as a married couple.- the anticipation of adventure, on our own, together, and just enjoying life. (And the stress of the wedding and reception was over...I was relieved and the world melted away.)
- Riding scooters in my neighborhood when I was 15. The thrill of the wind and the ability to go and feel dangerous, but not so dangerous as to incite fear. I wanted to go faster, but the speed we had was good enough. I felt like I might be able to take off and just do anything (even had the thought that I could just keep riding and not come back actually).
- When my children were born, there were no thoughts of the outside world, or stresses at work, or money or whatever. The baby had arrived, we were very much in the moment. It was miraculous and beautiful and I was happy to just be present.
There are times in life when we feel really really happy and are excited to be right where we are. I find when I am truly the most happy, it’s not really about a thing or a specific activity, it's about interacting with life in a way that allows me to be fully present in what I’m doing.
The times I'm most happy are the times when hours slip away like minutes.
Looking at my three things, I think the common thread is this spirit of newness and complete engagement. In fact, even when I think about other experiences I didn’t write down, all of my most happy times have these same elements. They all result in me getting lost in a moment while the world fades away. Most of the happy times aren’t long seasons either. They come in short bursts.
I’ve spent so much of my adult life searching for the work that will make me happy. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking that my career is what will bring me my ultimate happiness. For many years, this was represented by the act of writing. Whether I can honestly consider myself a writer or not, I’ve talked about wanting to be a writer for so long, it just became an extension of who I am. But the thing is, it doesn’t have to be ALL of who I am.
I have a few things I’d like to try, to find more of those happy moments.
First, I want to be healthy, but that’s too big of a goal to add to a list and check it off. The thought of “being healthy” is a big thought. Instead, I will look to several small things that will feed the common thread. I’m not going to make a lot of big plans, so all I’m going to do to start is to take a daily walk. Some days it might be miles, other days only blocks. During my walks, my goal will be to disconnect from the world, engage in the moment where I am, and just be. (Hopefully my wife and/or kids will join me most days.) I’m also going to eat healthy most of the time. I’ve spent a lot of money on books, videos, and kitchen gadgets over the years. I don’t need another book or fad to tell me what to do. Eating healthy should just be intuitive at this point.
Second, I want to learn something new and develop a significant skill. I've tossed around the ideas of gardening, woodworking, leatherworking, or learning to speak a new language. Right now, in this moment as I write these words, I’m thinking I might learn to code. I’ve just recently started researching what that even means. I know what coding is, but what language would I want to learn (based on what kinds of things I want to make)? I’ve started dipping my toe in to test the water. I may change my mind, but I’m sure I’ll write about whatever it is more in the coming months.
Finally, I want to continue writing for this blog. Readership is pretty much non-existent and I don’t really have a clear direction for the blog, but it’s not about that. It’s about getting lost in the process of telling a story and documenting what’s going on in general. (I started writing this post at 9:00. It’s now 10:10 and it feels like only a few minutes have passed. That’s a good indicator for me that this is something I want to keep doing!)
As for happiness, I’ve found (for me) it doesn’t have to be about the thing I’m doing at all really. I can find great happiness in writing a blog post, but I can find as much happiness in cleaning out the garage at times. Again, I’ve discovered it’s not really about what I’m doing, but how I’m doing it.