Just the other day my cousin and me were discussing getting older. I said, I’ve become 50 this year. And he said, so make the next twenty years of your life the best yet! Which made me think, what makes any decade better than what came before? What makes me happy about a year or a decade?
So when I look into my memory, and I consider happiness, all kinds of moments come to the fore: family feasts, moments of expansive oh-wow views on holiday, beach walks, moments drinking coffee with my dad. The dharma. Some of these moments are holiday moments or moments of adventure, walking on mountain peaks or moments in beautiful places. But many are not.
Its also clear to me what moments do not immediately come to the fore: work, offices, achievements, time spent behind the computer. Even time spent on a forum apparently doesn’t register in any significant way as a deeply happy experience. Movies and tv don’t seem to register either.
If you were to try and make the next twenty years the best of your life, what would that look like to you?
Present for whatever nanosecond that I can exist within. Hopefully, able to face it squarely.
It might be a useful exercise to flip that view up on its head. Happiness isn't necessarily the end all be all of a well lived life.
For example, I don't find a whole lot of happiness in work. AND it does provide me with stable housing and food, plus the freedom to engage in activities that do bring joy. In addition, it adds meaning to my life in that I'm valued by others and make a small positive impact in people's lives through it.
Sitting in front of a computer doesn't make me feel particularly happy, it can often even detract from it. AND the knowledge and perspectives I gain there allow me to have meaningful discussions and contributions to the world around me.
I deeply enjoy family gatherings and beautiful vacations. Those can be a bit fleeting though, so I try not to put my hope in happiness on them too much. Real happiness, in my view, is dependent on one's overall outlook and spiritually cultivated emotional state, more than the experiences we have.
Also, meaning is incredibly important in the quality of one's life. And things that give us meaning don't always bring us happiness.
I'm as conflicted as ever. On the one hand a part of me would like to devote myself more fully to a life of spiritual practice. On the other hand most of the activities I find enjoyable sort of clash with the overtly spiritual life.
A fantasy, or dream, I have of maybe retired life would be to have the resources to be able to live out of an RV and move about this large country of mine, living more in nature and experiencing different communities.