Happy and Discontented: What would you do if...?
Three questions you might want to ask yourself or NOT...
I ask for some audience/reader participation. Your questions are at the end.
“Everybody I know says they need just one thing
And what they really mean is that they need just one thing more”
- Rich Mullins, My One Thing
My friend Jorge is a doctor. He’s also a thoughtful thinker. That sounds redundant but I promise you, there are thinkers who are less thoughtful. Blame him for this piece.
I met him and his wife, Miki, through a mutual friend, Jim. I immediately liked him. He is unafraid to ask you challenging questions and delve into deeper topics. I think a lot of Jim’s friends are like this because Jim is like this.
Yesterday he wrote about some research into Money & Happiness. You can read his piece here.
In his piece, he introduced three questions that inspire, annoy and terrify me. They are framed in the context that analyzing these questions can boost your happiness.
THE THREE QUESTIONS:
What would you do if you had all the time and money in the world?
How would you live if you knew you only had one to five years of life ahead of you?
What would you most regret if you were to die tomorrow?
I’ve heard these questions in some fashion many times. They’re worth exploring. They may even be worth posting at your desk.
Or not… the questions can be problematic. Ask at your own risk/benefit?
I don’t think analyzing the questions is enough to boost your happiness. I’m certain Jorge knows this. They may, however, boost your awareness of why you might be less happy than you could be.
And their analysis can be a catalyst for boosting your happiness if you take action based on your answers.
I responded to his post. In it, I included my standard quip:
“I don’t need to be filthy rich… but a light dusting would be nice!”
The questions nagged me all day. Dammit Jorge!! They were a stone in my shoe and prompted me to write this. I’m going to give you my answers and would LOVE IT if you gave me your answers in the comments.
Note: Did you notice my sneaky technique to increase engagement. That’s some real content marketing voodoo right there.
HAPPY AND DISCONTENTED
The truth is, I’m a pretty happy guy. And yet, I’m discontented much of the time; unsatisfied with what I’ve produced and harshly critical of my own failure to act.
“Last night I dreamed I made it to the promised land
I was standin' at the gate and I had the key in my hand
Saint Peter said "Come on in boy, you're finally home"
I said "No thanks Pete, I'll just be moving along"
- Steve Earle, I Ain’t Ever Satisfied
Happy and discontented may seem to be mutually exclusive - how can you be both? Perhaps my answers will help you understand.
Question 1: What would you do….?
The first question is easy for me to answer. I’m thankful for that. I know many people who don’t know how to answer the question, “what do you love to do?” Hence, the popularity of “reality” shows and binge watching 8 seasons of _______________.
I’m not being judgmental here… well, maybe a little judgmental. Maybe binge watching Netflix makes you happy. That’s allowed. I shouldn’t question what makes people happy.
If I could do whatever I want, untethered by time and money constraints:
I would write (and produce and perform) songs.
I’d write essays and stories.
I’d hike around with my dogs.
I’d sit and play guitar or take drives with my partner.
I’d work on learning to draw.
I’d do photography and videography.
That is to say, I’d do what I currently do.
I’d do more of it and I might do it from more varied locales; Spain, Morocco, Italy, Japan, Australia, ???
Question 2: How would you live if…?
If I knew I was dying in 1 to 5 years, I’d like to be less encumbered with worrying about what others think - this is particularly true with the creation of art. It is something I am working on daily and is, in part, why I moved to this platform.
I would take bolder chances on getting my music in front of the right people - whoever the right people are. And I’d work more diligently on finishing some book ideas.
Some say I’m doing well in this area. I’m less convinced but I am working on it.
It’s the next question that kills me.
Question 3: What would you most regret…?
If I died tomorrow, I wouldn’t regret anything. I’d be dead. Or I’d regret dying. ;-)
But that doesn’t really answer the question.
Here is my short list of potential regrets in no particular order.
Not writing a novel:
I have a few ideas and one treatment. My editor loved it. It sits as a smattering of ideas and a couple paragraphs.
Not living in another country:
I am privileged to have been born in the U.S. That’s a material reality. But there are more countries and beautiful places and people. I would like to live in another country for a time. Not as a tourist. I want to live in a smaller town and in the culture of that town/country.
Not boldly making music and writing my primary professional pursuits:
Writing software earns income. And, when I’m a flow state, it’s an amazing high. It is like sex or taking mushrooms or something.
I have a gift in the area of words and music. (uh oh… here comes the arrogance). I’m okay with saying I’m very good at those things. Given the multitude of things I’m not good at it, I view it as awareness, not arrogance.
But…. I’ve been hesitant (read: terrified) to let go of tech money to pursue art money. They call them golden handcuffs.
Know what I don’t regret? Saying I love you the people close to me. I say it a lot and I mean it.
My list of regrets are NOT that overwhelming, to be honest. I think they are achievable. I also think that answering question 2 and acting on that answer is the key to reduce the items listed in question 3.