1934. I got my first look at the world and wasn't too sure I liked what I saw. Mostly 4 walls and a pair of eyeballs always in my face. Oh well things would get better.
And they did. It was less than a year when my parents gifted me with my first set of wheels - for being such a great kid I concluded.
I should have realized that I must not get hooked on material things and to be wary of bribes and enticing persuasions.
I was reading Epicurus at the time - "Whoever does not regard what he has as ample wealth, is unhappy though he be master of the world."
Work should be undertaken to sustain a healthy and contented life. It should provide for our needs not the wants that have been programmed into us.
Working more might be good if it is fun. Or so I thought at the start of the forties when I was haying with my big brother.
But work should not control our existence. Being too tired after hours for the things that really matter might mean the daily routine is out of balance and needs to be adjusted. And our goals and values might need re-examining.
Later I would discover much to draw upon for help to improve life. Had I started at this earlier a lot of difficult situations would have been made easier or disappeared altogether.
I would have realized sooner that life is not cruising around in my newly acquired 56 Monarch. That smoking was not cool but crazy. And so much more.
But I was having fun! And marriage would be around the corner!
I would learn later that a better balance and recognition of what is truly valuable make for a more pleasant life. And family and home is not all. Happiness is also friends, a healthy outlook, a job, nature all around, and whatever brings good feelings.
"Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." - Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
There was not the vast amount of book titles to choose from that there is today, but there were some excellent classics that are still in print. I read many self-help topics, highlighted the best phrases, and took notes. It was the best time investment I ever made.
I regularly retreated to the yard of our newly acquired first home to work leisurely and relax in nature's and my own garden.
Things are made more difficult if we are handicapped healthwise or with poor self-confidence, worries, guilt or anger. My 1980's held my share of these things - but at least I was working on them now.
As it turns out bad feelings are often there because of bad thinking which can be difficult to stop. The key is to think about the good things in life: family, friends, music, nature, pets . . . which can quickly reverse that feeling of despair. The mind does not allow two trains of thought at the same time.
"The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven." - John Milton (1608-1674)
A pleasant activity works wonders - cycling around the seawall or fishing a quiet lake.
Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1878) put it this way: "No matter what looms ahead, if you can eat today, enjoy the sunlight today, mix good cheer with friends today, then enjoy it and bless God for it. Do not look back on happiness or dream of it in the future. You are only sure of today; do not let yourself be cheated of it."
This would be so much easier without the constant persuasions of marketers convincing us that we need more of what may not make us happier, and often increases our miseries. What a joy - the end of the 90's brought in another generation.
Thousands of people met. All unique with their own worries, joys, hang-ups, talents.
Each and every one of us should be happy being ourself. It is much better to be 'me' than to pretend to be someone else. We should accept that we are just human beings and forget trying to be perfect in the eyes of others. The value of friendship then and now is that of a soothing balm.
Buddha was well aware: "The rule of friendship means there should be mutual sympathy between them, each supplying what the other lacks and trying to benefit the other, always using friendly and sincere words."
With the new millennium - a grandson joins the party and apparently happy to be here!
So many of life's anxieties and troubles lessen or fade away in the later years. Serenity should prevail. And there are still new things to try. Like some of this new technology, seeing new areas, meeting new people, taking more time to appreciate what is free and naturally all around us.
Every season hath its pleasures;
Spring may boast her flowery prime,
Yet the vineyard's ruby treasures
Brighten Autumn's soberer time. - Thomas Moore (1779-1852)
So . . . "Be happy while you're living, for you're a long time dead." - Scottish Proverb
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