Ever since I was in college, I’ve wanted to do something that mattered with my life… something big… something that would make me look back and say, “I did something with my life.”
That started 17 years ago.
Year after year, decision by decision, situation by situation, I constantly sought after something big in my life that might make me feel like my life mattered.
I think we all do that. I think we all deep down want to know that our life matters.
Because if we feel our lives matter, then we will be happy. And don’t we all want to be happy?
What ended up happening to me over the years was that in my pursuit of happiness, or my pursuit to feel as if I mattered, I actually became more unhappy. I constantly became more dependent on trying to do something big that when I or a situation didn’t meet some expectation I had set, I became unhappy. I turned negative, over critical, and often times depressed over the years, solely based on how I felt I compared to whatever view of perfect I thought would result from whatever I was doing. Call it not being content, call it striving for perfection, call the previous sentence a run-on sentence, call it whatever you want, I became a very unhappy, negative person as a result.
Don’t get me wrong… having big dreams, setting large goals, pursuing excellence, and wanting your life to matter are really good things. Actually far too many of us don’t realize what we are truly capable of because we don’t think we could ever achieve our dreams or reach large goals. Most people don’t recognize how much they matter and what difference they can make.
But I became consumed by trying. I became consumed with finding perfection.
For example, I would avoid choosing a place to go eat sometimes because if it didn’t feel like the perfect choice, then I would have missed out on something at the “perfect” place. Even though I didn’t know what the perfect place was. And then when someone would suggest a place to eat, I would list all the negative things I could think about the place just to prove why it wasn’t the perfect place to eat.
“We don’t want to go there, last time it took too long.”
“Let’s not go there, it’s too expensive for what you get.”
“I don’t know about going there, the atmosphere sometimes is noisy and I can’t relax and eat.”
“I hate going there on Tuesdays cause the third letter in its name rhymes with volkswagen.”
Whatever… anything to critique or be negative about a decision as simple as where to go to eat.
The only people that really saw how unhappy I was were those closest to me. I’m confident I drove them nuts. Better yet, I’m confident that I became not very fun to be around much of the time.
Rarely did I realize what I already had was so wonderful. The people in my life, the experiences I was having, and the opportunities to do good things were already present in my life.
Just like I was waiting around for the ideal restaurant to hit me, I was waiting around for the big idea or the game changing situation to hit me. While I waited, instead of doing something big with my life, my life actually seemed to start to become smaller. I wasn’t moving forward.
As a result, instead of mattering more, my life started to matter less and less.
And instead of being happy, I was just constantly pursuing happiness.
Art has a way of changing you.
Art has a way to convey things to you that for some reason you can’t or don’t understand otherwise.
When my life began to unravel…
When I got to a point where I really realized what truly mattered to me…
I heard a bit of wisdom while watching a Broadway play.
It was a simple line, spoken to a guy who was constantly chasing what I would call “perfect”:
“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness to just be happy.”
– Ted (Holiday Inn)
So today, this month, and this year, I’m focusing on just being happy.
I’m still going to set goals. I’m still going to try to produce excellent results with the things I do. I’m still going to try and make my life matter.
I’m going to enjoy where I am. I’m going to enjoy what I am doing. I’m going to enjoy my trip to the store. I’m going to enjoy the laughs with my loved ones. I’m going to try to enjoy every minute I am blessed to breathe in this life.
Knowing full well…
Life will be painful at times.
Life will throw you curves.
Life is not easy.
Life is not perfect.
Let’s pursue the Good in it.