Ray Petersen –
Gee, that’s a tough question isn’t it? The creator of the Charlie Brown comic strip had Linus ask, “What would you say you want most out of life Charlie Brown, to be happy?” To which Charlie replied, “No. I don’t expect that. I really don’t. I just don’t want to be unhappy!” How many of us would settle for that equation?
Mark Manson is a philosopher who says that if your answer is along the lines of, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a good job,” it is so ubiquitous that it’s meaningless. The question he suggests we should instead be asking ourselves is, “How much pain do I want in my life?” Or, “What am I willing to struggle for? His reasoning is that the more we challenge ourselves, the more our lives will be determined by the results of those challenges.
He’s quite right, I think, to establish that we do all want a loyal and beautiful partner in life, beautiful and intelligent children, and outstanding educational opportunities and high quality healthcare for those children. We want supportive grandparents, siblings and a positive circle of friends. We want a stimulating, fun job, in a great working environment, with a salary to be almost embarrassed about. And we want a big, beautiful house, flash his and hers cars, no weight or health issues, and long leisurely vacations.
Tell me different. Go on. Yes, at the end of the day we probably are all exactly as materialistic as that.
What Manson says is that we all manage positive experiences well, but what defines us is the manner in which we handle adversity, and basically, how much ‘pain’ we are willing to experience in terms of feeling bad, to get to the feel-good zone.
We could always be pro-active I guess, look in the mirror and say things like, “What am I really passionate or enthusiastic about, and am I including those things in my life?” Every life needs balance, and we often hear ‘life-coaches,’ talking about achieving that, balancing career, ambition, health, pleasure, leisure, family, and spiritual enrichment.
“What do I like, and dislike the most?” Not just in my life, but in my world, and am I in a position to embrace and influence the things I like, and deny those I dislike? Or maybe, “What has given me the most intense satisfaction in life?” Go on, be honest, and then question yourself about whether you can get to that ‘place,’ again? You’re still looking in that mirror remember.
Do you have role models? Don’t be ashamed, it’s not being unfaithful to have a role model outside your social circle, family or friends. Ask yourself, “Do I have people that I respect, have admiration for, and the qualities and achievements that I can aspire to?”
All of these can be seen as a bit introspective I guess, but how effective is your life going to be, and what do you expect to get out of life, if not a tad selfishly for yourself, then what about your children if you’ve never really sat down with yourself and had, ‘the talk?’
I guess what I’m asking you to do, is not to be like Charlie Brown. Wherever you are in life, don’t settle for, “I’m alright Jack!” If you have a good job, look to do it better. If you are a professional, get more qualifications and in doing so, raise your profile and skillsets. Aim higher. Not because you are hungry for the benefits that will accrue, but because it will put a smile on your face, make you want to go to work, make you want to come home, make you want to share yourself with your loved ones, and make the things that are dear to you, more dear.
So what do you want from life?