In this week’s spotlight I would like to discuss the nature of living better. What does a better life mean to you? Is it more money, additional free time, travel, better relationships, or what? Think about this for a moment before continuing this read.
I believe that most people think of a better life in terms of all those possibilities outside of themselves. Money, time, travel, possessions, relationships—these are all matters external to ourselves that we define. So think this way for a moment, what do these things really get you? Perhaps we have more money or time, but that will not in and of itself make us happy—and isn’t that ultimately what a better life is?
Little Things Matter
I remember stopping one day at a local grocery where I queued up in line to pay for my purchase. It was a very busy, even hectic, day for me and I was glad that the day’s schedule was over. Not in my best mood, I became agitated when the man in front of me needed to count small change to pay his bill. At least this was so until I heard what he was telling the clerk. This fellow was obviously a hard worker based on the condition of his hands and clothes. It seems it was his habit to pick up some small this or that for his three children so when he arrived home, there was always a surprise for them. He explained how the looks on their faces, the light in their eyes, and the joy in their smiles, made his hard day’s work lighter. His happiness in every day was built upon this daily ritual.
There I stood in my suit and tie and realized what a pompous ass I was because this fellow was “robbing” me of a few minutes of my time while he counted small change for his three or four dollar purchase. It was a truly humbling moment for me when I realized my pettiness.
Here was man who knew what made him happy and it wasn’t in what he got out of life, but in what he could give. I have never forgotten that day and I know I never will.
A Better Life Is Defined By Happiness
So it’s happiness that undergirds a better life. Happiness is best known in what I’ve called that warm fuzzy feeling that we get when we give of ourselves to others. Plus, pragmatically speaking, living this way has been demonstrated to positively influence everything from our health and longevity to success and prosperity.
Each night I reflect on the day just before drifting off to sleep. In these reflections I view my mistakes, shortcomings, and opportunities to do better. When I am making progress, it pleases me and I feel it. Where those tougher issues reside, I can only work to do better each day. Knowing that I will make this effort gives me satisfaction as well, and it is in the progress that I can look back and say to myself, “You’re a work in progress.”
I think we are all works in progress and we should be. Taking a pledge every day to contribute to a better self each day, one who is more caring, sharing, and giving, and who reaches higher and works harder toward our very best in our every endeavor—this brings us happiness.
Happiness is a state of mind. We define happiness and when our definition includes giving of ourselves instead of getting—we are rewarded. Paradoxically as it may seem, we are happiest when we give happiness.
My thoughts, what are yours?