If there’s one creed I try to live by it’s being happy now. It’s easy to be happy when things are going great, or if you win the lottery. But most days you’re alive problems crop up and you only get two, or maybe three, of the circles matching (when you need four to win) on the scratch off game from the gas station. Alas, the secret to life is not just smiling when things are going great, but smiling even when they aren’t. If that wisdom seems a bit trite and simplistic I want you to know I’m in good company.
The single, largest, organization in North America is the American Association of Retired People (AARP). Growing up I was taught to respect my elders. So when I read that AARP conducted their largest survey ever of their member, a few years back I was interested. Probably the most significant question I felt researchers asked was “What one piece of advice would you offer future generations?” Now as you can imagine these people who have experienced so much in life have lots of advice to give. But the question wasn’t “give us your advice” it was “give us one piece of advice.” Trying to boil down an entire life into what one thing you could share, to theoretically inspire or simply inform future generations, is daunting by its very nature.But that’s exactly what these senior citizens (sorry Mom their definition not mine) did. Not surprisingly everyone didn’t have the same advice and opinions ran the gamut. But one opinion, one kernel of wisdom, one piece of advice surfaced more consistently than any other. “Be happy now.”
I interpret that as being happy despite not closing that big account or getting that promotion you were really, really hoping for (and desperately needed the money that would come along with it.) In fact, it pretty much says despite what happens to you, you need to remain positive. If you want to sulk in your own misfortune or bad luck for a week or two instead of being happy now it’s your prerogative. But what our elders have discovered and are simply pointing out to us whippersnappers is that’s just an extra week or two that you’re going be less likely to get good fortune and change your luck. When you decide to be happy now, you decide to put yourself in a place for better things to come. And if they don’t for whatever reason at least you’re not going home and kicking the dog. Being happy now, at least as I interpret it, is not about not pushing yourself and striving to be your best always. Quite the contrary is true. Being happy now means you’re tackling problems, and moving onto even greater ones, and feeling the sense of accomplishment that comes with self-respect.
So what are you waiting for to be happy about?And the bigger question to all of us who haven’t reached AARP status yet and certainly the happy ones in AARP is this. What are you going to do about it NOW to get happy? Answer that and you will find happiness. Because after all,success isn’t a destination, it’s the journey. You might as well be whistling as you undertake it.