Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

The thing I’ve noticed about happiness is that it’s more about moments than milestones.  I think we set ourselves up for disappointment when we have these big, hairy, audacious goals that have to be met by a certain age or a specific time in our lives. 

Moments of happiness, on the other hand, are  ripe for the picking.  We just need to remember to pluck one out of each day.

I can safely say the surprise party held in my honor when I turned forty was a lesson in humility as well as humiliation. Wonderful friends and family who’d I’d known my whole life were there to help me celebrate/admit to this shocking occasion.  But because of circumstances a bit beyond my control,  I was living with my parents.  Therefore, this party also served as my induction into the Midlife Hall of Shame.

The year before I had left a man, the land, and a life I loved in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to move back to the Midwest.  As it turned out, within forty-eight hours of returning to the family farm my personal crisis and grief gave way to a global crisis and grief felt around the world as 9/11 changed life as we knew it.  Suddenly I was grateful to be with family and friends in a familiar place that felt safer and more solid than the ground I had just walked away from.

I was shell shocked for the better part of a year and then decided it was time to bloom where I was planted.  I did what I knew how to do best.  My family helped me renovate the upstairs of an old apartment building and I started teaching exercise and creativity classes.  I developed some online courses and offered my coaching services to anyone with an Internet connection.  I took my show on the road when necessary and split my time between the Southwest and Midwest and mastered the  art of living on air and credit cards.

Although air doesn’t exact a price, credit cards certainly do and the only logical way for me to pay the piper was to get a regular job.  Imagining myself to be utterly unemployable for any number of reasons including my age, no one was more surprised than me to find myself on someone’s payroll once again.  I couldn’t help but notice my co-workers’ curiosity about what I’d been up to for the past twenty years.  Since people don’t seem to get fired as easily in education, they tend to stay awhile. 

For me, the goal has always been to grow and learn and do it on my own timetable.  Like Sinatra, I’d like to look back on my life and be able to boast, “I did it my way.” 

I realize not everyone agrees with my way.  After taking the Myers Briggs Type Indicator during the leadership conference last week, I am reminded once again that lots of people look at life through an entirely different lens than I do.  I am sensitive to the fact that I can drive those people nuts with all my hakuna matata talk.  But for the sake of argument, let’s assume those folks didn’t make it past my first post.

So, I shall stick to my bold Bobby McFerrin advice for this week.   Don’t worry, be happy!  I couldn’t make this claim last week because I was convinced the house deal would tank over who should pay for the radon mitigation system.  Fortunately the six Buddhas sitting strategically throughout my current home had the desired effect of allowing compassion rather than pride to rule the day.

Now I certainly don’t mean to make light of things if you are having a demanding day or a decidedly difficult decade.  Midlife is full of unsettling and distressing changes that can send the sanest of us over the edge at least once a week.  My intention is to encourage you to find the moment, the music, the person, or place that brings you back to your best self when he or she seems to have gone missing. 

On this day when we remember the loss of so many loved ones, I vow to live my life with renewed peace, purpose, passion, and last but not least, pleasure!   May you do the same, if you are so inclined.

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