Today could be the day... or tomorrow... or July 22, 2022. Who knows? What I do know is that time moves fast and forward and is finite. So how shall we spend it? I say: HAPPY!
The Dalai Lama was once asked what the purpose of life is, his answer: to be happy. Everyone will find happiness in different forms but you only need look around to see, hear, and feel for yourself that we are surrounded by many, many folks who aren't living a happy day.
A few weeks back I was lunching with a close friend who from external observations looks to have it all: nice family, comfortable lifestyle, healthy, charitable, etc. And yet when we began talking about her plans for the new year she tossed around that she really needs to be doing more. Should she get a part-time job, do more volunteer work, what? I took a deep breath and mustered my compassion and offered up my boldly blunt take- stop with the doing, work on the being!
I have noticed that almost all my friends are living exhausted lives. Whether they're parents working inside or outside the home, or single and trying to date while moving up the success ladder- it's all this doing, doing, doing. And yet, all the things and people and activities seem to do is drain them; and while maybe not unhappy, they're not joyfully happy either.
As the unconventional friend who decided not to marry or have kids, and is wandering a different path it's so clear from my outsider's little perch our society is overwhelming our minds, our bodies, our kids. People are so worried about preservatives, guns, stranger-danger, and breast cancer when the top reason (75%+) people see a doctor is stress related. And it affects everything: OSHA reports workplace stress is a $300 billion drain on American industry. Even as someone who manages my stress rather well, that is not enough. Even Joy needs more joy in her life!
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to what will cure this malaise. But whatever it is, it starts with working on our happiness. My advice to my friend was more baths, naps, massages, fun reading, and time just drinking and hanging out with friends. Then coming from a rested, rejuvenated place she can create what would truly light her up.
Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. ~Howard Thurman
She paused, seemed taken aback, and then got choked up. She said it sounded so selfish to spend all that time and energy on herself. Really? Listen, there are things that need to be done to keep our lives moving forward but we do no one, NO ONE any good walking around exhausted, depleted and less then our fabulous selves. When I hear someone complain they have no time for fun or time for themselves because they have to run their kid here or there, or they have this obligation or that... I think to myself (and occasionally say outloud)- uhm, no you don't. Or at least you don't need to do it in a way that it completely leaves no time for you to work on yourself and your happiness.
In the last few years I have seen several friends go through painful divorces, and you know what even when it wasn't their fault, so to speak, it was... at least in some part. If you pour all your energy into your kids, house, pets, job, volunteer work and don't have time for yourself-- how happy do you think you are to be around? How happy is your couplehood? How happy is your home? How happy can your kids possibly be with exhausted, un-loved-up parents (wink, wink... you know what I mean)?
You could wait until you have every-other weekend free to work on making yourself happy, or until you're sitting in a hospital bed waiting on your next treatment, or when someone you loves passes to get the hint or you could make 2013 your year of happiness. I guarantee you, there is no effort, dollar amount, time sacrifice that is too much to pay for your happiness. Everyone, EVERYONE, benefits from your happiness: spouse, kids, in-laws, co-workers, neighbors, lady in line behind you in the grocery store who catches a glimpse of your smile.
So my wish for you this New Year ahead is that you get selfish and get as HAPPY as you can be!