“True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future [or the past].” Seneca the Younger
In a writing curriculum that I am part of I was recently asked to describe, “The time in my life that I was most happy.”
In truth, I don’t even like the question. The response seems to assume that at some point my life was the very best it could ever be. After 70 years I have learned that is a dumb question. That’s because, for me, the answer will always be “right now is the time I am most happy with my life.” Even though today I am facing serious personal struggles, today is still the time in my life I am most happy.”
For, today is all I have. The past is but a fading memory and the future only unpredictable anticipations, some good and others not so good. I believe it is essential to remember that today is merely the culmination of every day that has preceded it. All my past life is supreme preparation for the Now.
What is life if not an odd admixture of disturbing difficulties highlighted with moments of extraordinary pleasure?
Example: The Dark Decade
In my 20’s, during the decade of the 1970’s, my life was one of self-inflicted turmoil. During this decade I sought “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll” as my primary attraction which resulted in massive troubles. Addictions, police, deaths, pain to self and others were commonplace.
Until only recently I have referred to those times as my “dark decade.” And yet as I ponder those times through fresh eyes I see so much happiness, success, and adventure. Check out just four positive experiences:
- For three months I hitched-hiked across the US as far as Toronto, Canada with two fellow hippie friends. The experience was truly incomparable: the freedom, the friendships, and the excitement garnered from that trip can never be repeated.
- I began a new job in the lowest paid position with a carpet mill only to become the director of a division with 130 people reporting to me. I made money and I learned the basic principles of managing a business at a high level.
- Friendships were rich, deep and devoted.
- For three of those years I lived just one block from the beach.
Although in many ways in the 70’s I was embarrassingly immature, I was nevertheless on a path to becoming the man I am today… one of gratitude, appreciation, and love. Without those experiences I would not have the wisdom to see life—pain and happiness—the way I am privileged to see it today.
It was also in the final year of that decade I came face-to-face with God, an encounter that has proved to be the most impacting event of my entire life.
The Ever-Evolving Art of Perspective
So, how about you? When were you most happy? I truly hope that you can say that the best days of your life are right now. Even in trials and tribulations, you are learning all about the realities of life: that we are all evolving creatures, always learning and growing.
Don’t forget the mantra of Lanson Ross. “You are who you have been becoming!” Acknowledging that truth redirects your perspective and perspective just may be the very heart of wisdom!
Happiness is Not an Event
Happiness is a Positive Perspective
Photo courtesy of Olezzo at istockphoto