Somewhere along the line, joy became my goal in life.
My life has been full of joy nearly nonstop since the day I graduated high school. I wouldn’t trade anything in my life since then — not that I necessarily would trade anything before that because I am the sum of my total life experiences.
Good and bad.
Yin and yang.
I spend most of my days and nights in awe of the life I’ve enjoyed. Whenever I’m on my bike, usually when I’m lost in the daze of fulfillment, I find myself pedaling on clouds.
I call myself an obsessive optimist, always finding the light and denying the dark. Maybe I’ve lived a life of denial and, if so, it has been a wonderful experience that I would recommend highly. Life can be what you want it to be. I want mine to be filled with joy and laughter — and cycling.
And, it is. It’s so by choice.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’ve had my share of challenges, without question. I’m facing some right now. I’m sure you are too.
I’m sure a pessimist — who doesn’t even need be an obsessive pessimist — could pick apart my life and argue that I have little reason to feel joyful. That would be his or her loss, not mine. I just view my life through a different set of measures than most. Many things that keep others awake at night are not worth the time and energy to worry about, so I sleep like a baby. My Sleep Number app confirms.
Our evolution from survivalists to greedy hoarders hasn’t served us well. It seems that for too many individuals, no level of acquisition is ever enough, which I find rather odd since in my mind the only thing worth pursuing — happiness — has no degrees to it. You are either happy or not. You’re not more happier than just happy. You can’t stockpile it, either.
I wonder about America’s obsession with success. Not simple modest everyday life successes, but extravagant successes. It’s as if the simple American Dream of a modest house and a healthy family has been super-sized.
The house is never big enough.
Relationships are never satisfying enough.
Health is vastly overrated until it falters.
The urge to super-size has overblown America’s emphasis on careers as the determination of your identity — of who you are. It blurs the real issue at hand. I say that as I mind-wrestle with the reality that I might never again be a magazine editor and need to accept I’m a substitute teacher who gets to write in my free time. I whitewash the thoughts that at my core; I’m both and neither.
While it is fantastic if you can love what you do in your career from 9-to-5, true happiness is defined by who you are 5-to-9. In those hours away from your job, with your family, with yourself. That’s what defines me.
We often ask kids growing up the question: What do you want to be when you grow up?
We seldom promote the simple answer: I want to be happy.
A career, just like alcohol, drugs, sex or gambling, can be addictive. Career addiction can take over a life. You need more and more and more out of your career. Nothing will ever be enough. You’re so addicted that you cannot see the damage you are doing to your family, even though you probably defend your actions by saying you are doing it for your family. You leave before they wake up and return after they’ve gone to bed. You might as well have spent that time in a bar or casino.
Just as parents want the best of everything for their children, children want everything for their parents — and from their parents. One can define that “everything” in a number of manners. I just prefer to define it as happiness.
And ask me who I am?
I’m a happy dad, who rides bikes.
Time to ride
Thumbs up! Both of them!
Just this past week, I told my boss and his that I wanted to step back. Stop being the manager and go back to being just an engineer. Do some interesting work. Come home. Hang with the kids. Ride my bike. Decompress.
I can’t wait until they hire my replacement. Note: It has occurred to me that I get to do this from a place of privilege. I acknowledge and accept that getting to place my happiness on my priority list is a luxury and I’m happy to have it.
Good for you! There are times when I pause to realize I hit the zenith of my career more than 20 years ago, but better to peak early and live in the moment. Every Dad should spend time as a stay at home Dad. It’s the greatest job you can have