Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Secret to Happiness (May not be Transferable)

Every once in a while I like to take a step back and look at where I am in my life, what I’m doing, where I want to be in my life, and what I want to do. I was saying last night that, ultimately, the only person responsible for your happiness is you. So you have to take whatever steps are necessary to get yourself in a happy place. And I’m in a pretty happy place right now.

Sure, there are some problems: my house is looking a little haggard, my car still needs $1000 worth of repairs to fix some wheel sensors, my bank account is depressingly lacking in funds. But I am feeling pretty optimistic about the next few years. I’m not a religious guy, but I think I’ve stumbled onto a pretty good life fulfillment strategy. It may not work for everyone, but it works for me. Here’s how it goes:

1. Do cool things with cool people
2. Remember the good times
3. Plan the next adventure

That’s it. If you’re lucky (like I am), your family is a composed of a group of cool people that you like doing things with - especially your kick ass wife. If you’re REALLY lucky, your job consists of doing cool things with cool people (I’m pretty damn close, but not completely there). But it’s definitely acceptable to do your cool things in your free time, too (and use the work days to recover). And I recognize that life isn’t always rainbows and lollipops, but there’s no harm in trying to put more of that good stuff in your life. Some guy known as “Uncle Dan”, whose blog is here, talks about when he started mountain biking:

I started meeting some great people on the trails, in the bike shops and mainly at the trailheads. About 90% of them had this crazy gleam in their eyes and all shared a passion for life that I was not used to. Its kind of like hanging out at a ski resort . . . where everyone is there to have a good time, nobody is lazy, and for the most part everyone is in a good mood and getting along with everyone else - yea, that.

I truly believe that’s how life should feel all the time (or at least most of the time). As for #2, I believe that it logically follows #1: If you’re going to do all this cool stuff, at least remember all the stuff you did. I, for one, have a terrible memory. So photography, blogging, and late night drunken story telling are great ways to relive the awesome times I had. Even though Bruce Springsteen sings that he hopes he doesn’t sit around talking about his “Glory Days”, he admits that he probably will. And that’s okay. Check out this post about Alaska on Adventure Journal:

The land is alive with history — my history. Visiting one island, I still see the 25-year-old kid I used to be, running down a deer trail and arriving breathless on a beach, just in time to see my first breaching whale. Near one of the glaciers, I recall when collapsing ice sent out unusually big waves that nearly stripped me from the shore as I clung to a rocky ledge. There’s the ice-peppered bay where my wife and I were married on a boat among our closest friends and family. With so much history here, I feel like the place owns me.

That’s why I’m enjoying photography so much. As I look back on my pictures, I want to feel the feelings I had when they were taken (whatever those feelings were): Happiness, Relaxation, Exhaustion, Elation, Gratitude, etc. As for #3, that’s just to keep me from being sedate. It’s so easy in this world to fall into a routine: Get up, work, go back to bed, repeat. I want new experiences. I want to go places I’ve never been, taste things I’ve never tried, do things I’ve never done. #3 is about looking towards the horizon, putting your toes in the surf, and then diving in (no matter how much of a shock the cold water is). It’s about getting off the couch, getting outside, and doing something. Here’s some inspiration from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

These blog posts are my footprints. Enjoy the walk.


  1. Cool blog! What would life be if you couldn't remember it!

  2. Keep doing cool stuff. I just wish I had started blogging 20 years ago so I could remember now all the cool stuff I did then! See you on the mtn.