Being Happy

DishesIf you follow what interests you at present then you will always be interested and interesting. If you always pursue what makes you happy at present then you will always be happy.

After I graduated high school I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. Electronics seemed to make sense so I went to a good electronics school and I did very well but, honestly, I didn’t care and dropped out before the first semester was over. The most significant moment of that time was when I saw a beautiful white grand piano in someone’s living room from the sidewalk and I somehow had the nerve to knock on that stranger’s door and ask if I could play it. Remarkably the lady of the house let me in and I played it for about an hour after which she and her husband made me lunch. Is that not the oddest thing?

What I ended up doing in college is what it has been more traditionally meant to be, which is to round you out as a person and to give you the opportunity to explore what interests you. It is only in recent decades that people have come to look at college as preparation for a career. I had previously been through a battery of tests which ultimately determined that I should be a social worker, as what would make me happiest in life.

What I did was to major in psychology with a double minor in music and writing. At every step of the way I aggressively pursued what interested me. Fortunately I am creative enough so that in every class and every situation in life I can isolate at least something that interests me and I focus on that. I ended up completing a double major in music and psychology with a minor in writing. Those were my interests in order of my personal priority and I loved every second of it because I pursued all those things that I love and never once sweated what I did not care about. I remember having to write an essay in a humanities class and I instead turned in a play which included all the requirements of the essay. Luckily, it amused the professor and I got away with both having fun and doing what was required of me. The grand solution in life, to me, is to do what is required of you but to do it in a way that suits you.

I can’t understand the desire to be a best-selling author. I can very much understand having a passion for writing and reveling in the writing process. The desire for success is an artificial desire that is momentary and largely meaningless, the love of what you are doing and focusing on in the present moment is what defines you and ignoring that is alienating you from yourself.

I am retired now at the tender age of 56. If I want to study music, I study music. If I want to write, I write. If I want to help people, I help people. If I want to watch TV, I watch TV.

The worst thing is to be a clock watcher: to be looking forward to going home from work, to be looking past college for a career, to be waiting to grow up to be an adult, to write only to get an award, to learn a piece of music only to hear the applause of an audience. To be a clock watcher is to never appreciate the present moment and perpetually live an empty life.

I’m going now to put the dishes away. In my own way, in my own style, I will take them from the dishwasher and put everything away just so, examining things for dryness and cleanliness. I will be aware of the sounds, the sureness of touch, the swing of the cabinet doors as I open and shut them, and all the while I will be putting my stamp on the activity and living that moment as if I were happily performing art. It amuses me to look at things and do things in this manner always. And so everything I do has meaning, is fulfilling, is done well at a comfortable pace. That makes me happy with my life throughout every day and in every circumstance as I look at things for what they are and perform in a way that is true to myself.

4 thoughts on “Being Happy

  1. It would be interesting to know, after the fact, how far people were from happiness during their lives. Maybe a job for God’s stats department, I don’t know.

    I think that for many people happiness is very close, maybe even just a change of perspective away.

  2. Great post. Great reminder for us to take a 2nd look at ourselves and do a check on our happiness, Life is short, enjoy all the moments. Do what makes us happy, it doesn’t always have to be to achieve fame or money just internal gratification. :)

    • I think the easiest (hardest?) way to remove a lot of artificial pressures is to live below your means and become debt free. It is hard to be in the moment while the next difficult-to-pay bill is always looming. I remember being a child sitting at the edge of a dirt road throwing little rocks at a stick and making my own little game out of the activity, happily immersed. There’s so much we have learned to want that just doesn’t matter. “Wanting things is the source of all unhappiness” is a vital truism for today (I entered on my iPad Air). ;)

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