Yesterday I found an interesting article on Facebook. It started with the premise that ‘seeking happiness will not bring you happiness’. That ‘happiness is a by product of living a fulfilled life’. The author distinguished between seeking ‘fun’ and pursuing ‘goals’. He made the interesting observation that we often confuse happiness with pleasure. Pleasure in the here an now, a hot bath, good food, new shoes, an exotic trip, a new man, and, since he is a man author, he included buying a porsche. That entire lives can be spent seeking pleasure, but that lasting fulfillment is actually achieved otherwise: pursuing your goals.
Pursuing your goals might not promise immediate pleasure. It might actually get pretty uncomfortable which is the polar opposite of pleasure. It might involved fear (of the unknown), doubt (can I do this?), and discomfort (‘sounds like a LOTTA WORK’). But, once we overcome those, and get into the process, we are left with the feeling of deep satisfaction.
Even if we fail. He says. Which, I think, is true.
We can always look back, 10 years later, getting misty-eyed.
I did not sign up with everything he said. Wanting in a good puritan way to swap the pursuit of (delectable) pleasure to hardworking, sweat inducing, suffering, pleasure forgoing mono-mindedness of goal pursuit.
I know that arena too well. With tunnel vision you observe your objectives, and postpone life otherwise. Like Steffi Graf once said that for 20 years all that in her life happened was tennis and she had no time for anything else. When she retired, she had to make up for many things. What if your profession does not have a built-in retirement age at 32? When it expects you to me mono minded until you retire? When will you actually live?
I felt this author’s good ideas needed an afterthought. Which is my idea of ‘life pace’.
It is a happy medium between a hedonistic life style mostly pursuing fun and a overwhelmingly hard working, pleasure forgoing life style. A happy marriage between both. Every day. In every activity. Sounds impossible? This is where pace comes in.
If you think about running a marathon, people are watching their pace. An 8min Mile or a 9min Mile. It just means you wont run hard and fast in the beginning and are burnt out during the last miles. You will get there, feeling comfortable the entire run (if you trained well before). ---- I think the same applies for life. Finding a good medium between challenging yourself (to a comfortable degree), and enjoying yourself (in the process, with sufficient confidence, and readiness to make mistakes, move on from them, and learn from them, and – overall, grow, and also take a break when you need to, go on vacation). A pace that does not err on the side of constantly being overwhelmed and over-challenged, taking on too many things, or setting goals that are too high and then work harder to actually achieve them. That is not a good life pace. It errs on the side of exhaustion. You probably find yourself always slightly complaining and seemingly out of breath.
On the other hand, err-ing on the side of slackerdom will bring you superficial pleasure (which can keep you quite entertained and busy and you have to keep at it), but it won’t bring lasting satisfaction. It is more like a buzz, a cocktail buzz, and when you think about it the next day there is nothing left but a slightly embarrassing memory.
The pace has to be gauged each day, to stay at this happy medium between a ‘comfortable’ challenge, enough time to get the job done, and balancing it out with time for everything else, including playing with the kids (playing with the kids, not supervising homework or just ‘spending’ time while doodling on the IPhone).
Because, life is now, and today is only ‘reward’ you will ever have (and the memories of it).