one day at a time

day 66: playing games

playing games © Verena Fischer 2011

playing games © Verena Fischer 2011

Maybe you have noticed that I’m a little behind on my posting schedule. Taking pictures and writing a post each day can be a bit much, especially when my mind is on other things. The last few days I had my mind on the future and on many of the questions that I’ve been asking myself over and over for the last few years. The main question is about happiness and what it needs to reach it.

Some people live in the past and try to justify their behaviour with the things that happened to them. They dwell on it, sometimes they also dwell on their own mistakes and they obsess on things they could have said or done better. They want to exactly locate who is to blame or what decision brought them onto the wrong path. Unhappy people often live in the past, because their present doesn’t have much to offer. They live not only in the past, but also in the “what if”. They think they would be happier if they had chosen differently or if certain things hadn’t happened. The grass on the other side is always greener.

Other people live in the future, always setting goals and sacrificing the present to reach them. You meet many of them at universities, passing their days and nights in libraries and labs, working towards a deadline. After the deadline they fall into a deep hole, because there is often no real satisfaction involved in actually reaching the goals they set themselves. These people are too busy to notice that they’re actually not happy either. They also live in the state of “what if” since they can never be certain that they will reach the goals they aim for. Else these goals probably wouldn’t be worth pursuing in any case.

I have just finished my MSc program and I have to say that I don’t feel much satisfaction about that. I’ve worked hard, sacrificed a lot and in the end it’s very obvious: Reaching goals really doesn’t make you any happier. You just end up wondering what’s next! I guess I knew that before to some extent, but it’s all the clearer now. “What if” just doesn’t cut it anymore. I have to make certain that I actually do what I want to do right now and not in some distant future that can only be reached by a complicated set of causal constraints. I think the key to being happy is neither in the past nor in the future. It’s not in another dimension either. It’s right now in the present.

5 responses

  1. reminds me of a quote i read recently: “If you want to be happy, be” – Leo Tolstoy

    Enjoyed reading your post.I know someone close who lives exactly as you described in Para#2.I think life gives you choices and options every now and then. We need to make those choices (informed and hopefully wisely) but most importantly making ourselves fully responsible for those decisions.Its harder in reality than how it sounds here but that to me is a major cause of heartburn!

    October 18, 2011 at 8:59 pm

  2. Yes, absolutely. It is important to pay close attention to the present, not only because it’s far more enjoyable and rewarding, but also because all future moments are born out of the present moment …

    October 19, 2011 at 12:38 am

  3. This is a lot to think about. Someone once told me spending too much time in your head stops you from living and if we aren’t living we can’t be happy. Great post.

    October 19, 2011 at 3:47 am

  4. Living life in the present is the key to contentment I think. It is, however, so hard to maintain!

    October 20, 2011 at 12:12 pm

  5. Very important to be able to enjoy each moment as fully as possible as one is never promised tomorrow. It also makes for a past that is a delight to relive if one wishes. It is not always easy and requires a concentrated effort many days not to dwell on an unhappy past or uncertain future. Thanks for a very thought-provoking post.

    October 21, 2011 at 2:58 am

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