I have found in my life that many times I have changed paths of attaining happiness. Some paths were spiritual, Some were physical, and some were mental. The problem I had in my youth was the fact that I listened to the people that had different views of what was important to them. This however was not what was important to me. The “Question” then becomes what is important to you? Well…. I thought, when I was younger, that career was important, but that can be confusing when you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up. (not sure I’m there yet) I spent my youth going from One job to another, and college was a waste of time for the most part. Colleges need to streamline their curriculum to only include the courses you need to get your degree and quit adding bullshit courses that have nothing to do with your area of learning. Its just a waste of time and money.
As I got older money , I was told was the most important thing, and the ability to acquire money was the path to happiness. In my search for the almighty dollar I meet a lot of like minded people and came to the realization that I wasn’t happy and I was constantly stressed and the people I met weren’t happy either. As I got older most of these people are now trading in their wealth to try to regain their health and happiness. Seems a little backward to me, trading your youth and health for money that you will then use to pay to try to heal all the medical problems you got from the stress and long hours you had to give to attain your money. Does anyone else see the problem with this, or is it just me? On a side note I always found this study interesting. This is a chart of diminishing return for money spent vs. happiness
As I got older and got married, started a family, I realized I was spending less and less time with my family and more and more time at work. This was not the family model I wanted for myself or them. Growing up in a family were my father worked a lot and was gone for days at a time I remembered what that was like. I would have gladly given up all the nice things we had for a better relationship with my father. With both parents working it becomes even harder for a child to have a healthy relationship as they grow when all they see growing up is two parents chasing their careers and fighting over money when they were home at the same time. I didn’t want that as my son got older than four so my wife and I talked about it and came to the conclusion that we would choose happiness over wealth.
Now that being said I am not suggesting anyone live in poverty, no what I’m suggesting is scale back your life style, cut out the extras that don’t mean anything to you. Spend more time with the ones you love and build strong positive relationships with the ones you love. By doing this we discovered that we could cut back our hours at work by almost half. This is huge! My wife was able to cut back to only 20 hrs a week from forty plus and I could cut back to forty five hours a week from my usual seventy two hrs a week. We still had more than enough money to pay the bills and money for retirement and vacations. Our marriage was stronger and we had more time to spend with our son.
Now I want to touch on the spiritual side of my journey. I was raised an Irish Catholic and consider myself recovering Catholic now. I realized at a very young age that there might be more than one answer when it came to spiritual happiness. So I embarked on a journey of self discovery of spiritual realization. And yes I dabbled in mind altering psychedelics in the seventies. I lived in the Haight- Ashbury district in San Francisco for a while I dabbled in other religions and beliefs, and ended my journey realizing that everything I needed was within me. I settled on Buddhism as a belief system because through the years I saw that life gives you back what you put into it. I wanted to have a happy, positive existence so I figured I had to put happy, positive thoughts and actions into my life. Buddhism seems to be the closest thing to this belief system. So when someone asks I simply say Buddhist and wait for the look of disbelief on their face. I’m not going to get all warm and fuzzy here I just wanted to explain my position.
My physical journey began when I started buying slip on shoes so I didn’t have to bend over to tie my shoes. Some times something so small can be the trigger you need to make a life changing decision. I made the decision to try to reverse the damage I had done trying to attain some imaginary dollar amount before it became a medical issue. I embarked upon a journey of physical health through proper diet and exercise. I also found a sort of spiritual peace through this fitness program centered around Martial Arts.
Now, lets pull all this together into something that makes sense. Three things had to happen for this to work.
- Focus on whats really important to you. Family, relationships, etc.
- find a spiritual belief system that works for you.
- Make a commitment to take care of yourself through a proper diet and exercise.
You will find if you can pull these things together you will have a life filled with love and possibility. You will also have time to pursue your passions what ever they may be. You stress levels will go way down, you wont try to control every aspect of your life and the lives of the people around you. Also you will have time to give to others that need your help because for what ever reason their life is out of balance. There is no greater joy in life than being of service to others. So live your life with purpose and joy and it will positively affect everyone around you.