Happiness – we all seek it and want to know the secret of it. Self-help books on happiness line the shelves of book shops and libraries and there are all kinds of theories about happiness.
Over the years what I thought about and desired as a means to gaining happiness have changed as I have… matured (I like the word matured better than aged). Here is my list, organized by decades.
0-10 I wanted to be cared for, safe, nourished and nurtured to be happy (although I could not articulate all this at the time).
11-20 I wanted friendships, fun, freedom, popularity, a car and someone interesting and sexy to date.
21-30 I wanted a college education, to go to lots of parties, a satisfying career, a marriage partner, pregnancy and healthy children, and a nice house in a neighborhood with a good school system.
31-40 I wanted to further my career as a Social Worker and Educational Consultant, a happy marriage, and healthy, independent kids.
41-50 I wanted to understand what spirituality meant, to know the meaning of life, to go beyond my self and live in an altruistic manner.
51-60 I want freedom, health, prosperity, deep friendships and to simplify my life more and more.
Throughout these decades there have been some things that did not change from decade to decade, including:
- health, love and happiness for myself, my family members, friends and all people
- stimulating work that helps people
- a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing home
- good friends, a happy marriage and independent children
- peace in the world
- that everyone have food to eat
For the past ten years, my quest for happiness has focused on things that, at younger ages, I would not have thought important, including:
- a spiritual practice and community
- deep friendships based on caring, trust and mutual generosity
- a life simplified by having less – fewer material things, a small living space
- simple pleasures – watching otters and ducks on the pond by my cottage, watching the seasons change, spending time in natural settings, cooking for friends, phone calls and visits from my kids
- peace, tranquility, compassion, and acceptance of myself, my children, my friends and acquaintances
- acceptance for all that is
- living mindfully, ethically and compassionately
I realize happiness comes from what I value most, what brings me pleasure, challenge, contentment and peace.
Whatever is on your list of things or values that bring you happiness, I hope you revel in them.