Be happy while you're living

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."

The 1940s - Northern Ontario: A simpler lifestyle?

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.

50s Music and much more. Through the 50s - lots of fun times: Skiing, fishing, hanging out, smoking, drinking. Lots of worries and stresses: Grades, pimples, self-doubt. Girls.

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!

The Sixties - a different kind of fun. And stresses and worries were different - but they were easier to deal with in the comfort of my family. Life need not have been as complicated as it was. Life was simpler then but we still wanted more. More money, better job, a house, more and nicer things. There was still lots of enjoyable time with the addition of two wonderful kids to my life.

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)

Somewhere in the 70s I stumbled upon the idea that some type of HELP! would be a good idea. If I could learn more about gardening, repairs and computers by reading, then it was only logical that I should learn more about living.

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.
The 1980s were a challenge. Life can be awfully tough as a mom or dad too. So I guess life can be rough going for a lot of years for a lot of people of all ages. The responsibilities and day to day problems at home and at work can be overwhelming.

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.
That feeling of hopelessness might seem very appropriate to a person's situation, but many others have been there and have suffered similar or worse experiences. They have survived to enjoy life and so will most who decide to think the right thoughts and take the right steps ahead.

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.

My 60s in the 90s. Responsibilities and anxieties declined as the years grayed. In the overall scheme of living today, the main concern should be about today. Today is valuable, yesterday is gone, tomorrow doesn't exist.

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.

A New Millennium. What a trip! Thousands of miles traveled, some on rough roads some smooth sailing. Always with my lifelines - my caring wife and wonderful kids.

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!


2010 and onward: Aging has its special problems, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't have a lot of enjoyment. The October - December years can be a time when you are able to say "I don't care" about certain problems.

So many of life's anxieties and troubles lessen or fade away in the later years...  if we can only keep well. And there are still new things to try with more time to appreciate what is free and naturally all around us. Meeting new friends,  contacting old ones.

Every season hath its pleasures; Spring may boast her flowery prime,
Yet the vineyard's ruby treasure 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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