These Are the Best Days of My Life
“There’s no such thing as push-button happiness, Taylor. It’s not as easy as you make it sound.”
Part of being a happiness evangelist is dealing with naysayers, and I’ve heard that rebuttal more times than I can count. I don’t laugh out loud because I don’t want to hurt their feelings, but I giggle a little inside every time I hear that response. Seriously, I know very well that we can’t manufacture happiness-on-demand.
Even as the happiest guy you know, I have bad days. I’ve had my share of bad YEARS. When times are hard and we’re struggling to survive, it’s difficult to maintain an optimistic perspective. Sometimes, it’s almost impossible to remember that happiness is an attitude we cultivate, and it’s seeds are planted in positive thinking.
Many people believe that happiness is external; an event or person or circumstance that makes us feel good. We need more of this or less of that or something forever out of reach.
Money and the things you can buy with it make almost everybody happy for a little while. It creates the illusion that all problems have been solved and future difficulties can be dealt with efficiently and satisfactorily. In the pursuit of happiness, people (especially Americans) spend an inordinate amount of time earning money that they use to acquire things they believe will make them happy.
But the results of uncountable studies have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that money cannot buy lasting happiness. Sadly, I know a few people that worked their wholes lives to be happy in retirement but died a year or two after finishing their careers. Though relatively wealthy, they never fully realized the happiness they waited to enjoy. Clearly, it is foolish to consider money a source of real happiness.
Money is a requirement for living in the material world… to buy food and shelter, and to avoid becoming a burden on the rest of society. Everyone has to work to provide for themselves and contribute to society’s maintenance.
When we lack purpose, however, work becomes a thing one dreads. We wake up in a bad mood knowing that we are going to work and we drag through the day with little good energy or none, then come home to rest for a few hours before returning to work again. We have less desire for work and find less satisfaction in it. We want less of that kind of work.
If work supports a greater purpose in your life, it’s quite likely that going to work makes you almost as happy as the thing for which you are working. When there is meaning behind the work we do, our perspective is positive. The relationships we build at work, the common goals we share with our associates, and the shared energy of working towards those common goals is invigorating. We perceive work as a means to an end and that perception keeps us happy.
For most people, warm and loving relationships are essential for living a happy life. I know a lot of people who believe it’s the only thing missing from their lives; if they could find a Life Partner, everything will be good and they will be happy again.
I like to remind people that they are gifted with two meaningful relationships on the day they are born. Everybody has a relationship with themselves and most people have some sort of relationship with God. Anyone who wants to create and sustain the right perspective on happiness must attend to these two relationships.
I took time out of my life to rebuild the relationship with myself. I sacrificed quite a bit vocationally, but will remember those years as a turning point in my life. By giving my time and attention to them, I improved both relationships dramatically and became a happier person.
During those years of solitude, I was as free as a man could possibly be. Free of the burden of social expectations, I felt comfortably integrated with the natural order of things; I worked and slept as the seasons dictated. I developed a new understanding of the difference between what was urgent and what was important, and learned to balance my life appropriately. Truthfully, I can tell you I was happy in the wilderness alone with me and my best friend God.
Benefits of Positive Thinking
“Life loves happy people.”
When I heard Ela speak those words, I knew she was The One. We are two sides of the same coin, two people committed to living better lives. I could leave my beloved mountains for someone who would share my perspective. I could spend the rest of my days happy with someone who believes in the inevitable benefits of positive thinking.
For years, I felt my days in the wilderness were the best days of my life. That chapter of my story was fantastic, as were many of the years that preceded it. To say “these are the best days of my life” does not diminish the happiness or satisfaction I felt before… which is critical to understand.
I have a friend who lost his wife to cancer and he is afraid to have fun nowadays. In his mind, he cannot possibly be as happy as he was before she died. Somehow he feels that being happy now would tarnish the happiness he had in his years with her. And, of course, that’s untrue. Even if you feel your best days were in the past, make Time prove it. Test that feeling; give life a chance.
When I say my days with Ela are “the best days in my life”, it is not a quantitative measurement. It’s an attitude, a prediction. Not every day is the best day, of course; relationships are hard. They take a lot of work and the work is not always pleasant. But it is worthwhile because we work together towards a common goal. Our shared purpose makes the work enjoyable, even when it’s hard. We enjoy our life together and endeavor to make these days the best days of our lives.
Of course, we’re talking here about optimism and pessimism. An optimist says “the best is yet to come” and a pessimist says “my best years are behind me”. Both of them are talking about the same future, but their expectations are entirely different. Predictably, each will likely get what he expects.
I always cringe when I hear someone say, “those were the best days of my life”. To assume that you’ve already peaked… to assume that it will never get any better is the worst kind of self-fulfilling prophesy.
If you ever wondered why some people are happy no matter what happens to them, allow yourself to see the truth. Those people are happy because they choose to be. They practice positive thinking. Even in negative circumstances, they choose to believe that life will get better. They have unshakable faith in the inevitable benefits of positive thinking.
It may seem like some people are born that way, but anyone can adopt that frame of mind. And why not? It costs nothing to pretend that everything is going your way. Even in your darkest hour, cling to the belief that your best days are ahead of you. And when things start going your way, remember how it happened and keep it going. It takes practice, but you can do it… and I promise you will see a positive result.
Not sure how I rated 3.7? It’s a 5! Wholeheartedly agree with your outlook on life Pat and the foundations of those beliefs. I’ve had two big life changes in 2022 – a heart attack and my wife’s decision to end our marriage. The doctors fixed the first one and I’m working past the second. I’m healthier, happier and getting on with life – grateful for each day and heading on my next adventure!
I can’t wait to meet you, Michael. We have a lot in common & can share our best ideas! (and that 3.7 is from a hater who often gives me a 1) 😉
That would be outstanding Pat – two old military cobs chewin the fat. I’m in eastern Canada if you’re ever rollin through these parts.
Pleasure can be based on delusion, happiness is based on reality. Your reality is happy because you have made the choice to be happy. It was a pleasure to go through the view of happiness you describe. Life loves happy people.
Thank you Elzbieta – I completely agree “Life Loves Happy People”!
Dziękuję Patryku za ten tekst. Ja wiele lat temu postanowiłam być szczęśliwa i jestem. Czy to zawsze jest proste? Nie! Ale warto! Warto iść drogą, która daje szczęście. Niektórzy mówią, Tobie to dobrze, bo Ty jesteś szczęśliwa. Masz fajnego męża i nie masz mnóstwa problemów z którymi ja się borykam! Naprawdę…? Jeśli wybierzesz szczęście ono z Tobą zamieszka.
Dziękuję za miłe słowa. Cieszę się, że zgadzasz się z moim poglądem na szczęście! I życzę jeszcze więcej szczęścia w życiu.