I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now

Technically, I wrapped up this blog almost a year ago and technically this is more of a personal essay than a story, but I’m feeling rebellious today.  51 isn’t too old to become a rebel, is it?

Want to live a great life?  It’s easy, really. All you have to do is give yourself permission to be happy…now.

Don’t wait until you acquire an impressive sounding job title.  Don’t tell yourself you’ll be happy once you get married, have kids, take that once in a lifetime trip, become rich and famous, buy that big house or fancy car, when you see your kids grow up and have a family of their own, or when you retire.  Be happy…now, because what if it takes a long time for any of those things to happen?  What if they never do?

We all like to think our dreams will come true and that some magical, extraordinary life is in store for us, but I’m sorry, no one gets through life without their share of nasty experiences.  Things which will make you feel that you are unlovable, unsuccessful, a loser, stupid.  That’s not to say awesome things won’t ever happen, they will.  It’s just that, do you really want to spend your days being angry, bitter, jaded, resentful, envious or depressed until they do?  Plus what if the things you’re waiting on to bring you happiness come along and make you miserable instead?  What if the best things that end up occurring to you are not even on your radar right now?  Maybe you’ll visit some random gelato shop on your travels and it will inspire you to open a place just like it where you live.  Maybe you’ll learn the freedom that comes from forgiving the person who wronged you years ago.  Perhaps one day instead of saying “I want, I want, I want,” you’ll stop and ask yourself why it’s so important for you to have those things.  Maybe it will lead you to realize that the reason why you, and most people for that matter, want so many of the things we do is because a large number of us are ruled by fear and low self-esteem.  We measure ourselves against others because deep down inside we feel we’re not good enough, smart enough, funny enough, physically attractive enough, or cool enough.  “If I have this or that, or accomplish this and that, then I can finally feel good about myself!” you subconsciously believe.

Besides, you more than likely already have enough of what you need.  We’ve all seen news stories or documentaries where people living in extreme poverty, in war zones or with a debilitating illness have found a way to be happy, so chances are it’s not the lack of a luxury vehicle in your driveway that’s holding you back.

Years ago, I read somewhere that when John Lennon was a child, his teacher asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.  When he wrote down ‘happy’, she told him he didn’t understand the assignment.  No doubt you’ve been asked the same question.  Did you say that you wanted to be empathetic, kind, generous, curious, grateful, brave, loyal, affectionate, honest, proactive and full of joy, or did you name a profession?  There are a lot of doctors who are real jerks, just as there are plenty of cashiers with more common sense in their little fingers than some people have in their whole bodies.

Be happy…now.

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