What are the happiest times in your life? That’s worth looking at because there are probably some common elements there. With some serious introspection, you might even figure out the connections.
There are three periods in my life that stand out as the happiest.
The first time was when I was a kid. By “kid” I mean in that age range of about seven to eleven. I had a lot of independence and hadn’t started worrying too much about girls. I grew up with five brothers. I was the middle kid, so I was surrounded by activities and companionship all the time. We lived about half a mile from a great big park. During the summer months, we’d go there and play on the playground, check out games, or watch baseball. We were literally barefoot all summer and “gone” most of the day.
During that time I also built a small private sanctuary for myself in our basement. We had a dank, unfinished basement that really had nothing but the old oil furnace in it. I put up some shelves and built a work area under the staircase. That’s where I set up my chemistry set and my electronics experiments.
I was happy and free and I always felt loved and secure. I also felt like I had a lot of independence.
The second period that stands out in my life is when my daughter was a little girl. Two was an awesome age. But the time when she was 3-6 was the best. She was old enough to have stamina, so she could hang out with me all day. We literally went everywhere together. My co-workers and clients all knew her.
Every weekend, the two of us would head out for an adventure. It normally involved a trip to the Rite-Aid to wander every aisle. We finished in the plant department. Then we’d go to the lumber yard to get supplies for whatever the weekend project was. Again, we hit every aisle. She sat on the riding mowers and sang “I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay.” After that we either planted things, painted things, or built things.
On Sunday we either had Daddy-Daughter breakfast before church or Daddy-Daughter lunch after church. Even today she has fond memories of the places we went regularly.
I think my daughter considers me her shield from the world – in large part because we spent all of our time together during this period of her life.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved every age. But after she started going to school, she developed a life outside of our relationship. That’s how it’s supposed to be of course. She was a great teenager, a great high schooler, and now she’s a wonderful woman.
The third period of happiness that stands out in my life is right now. Over the last six years I’ve rebuilt my life completely. I make a living writing and speaking, which I dearly love. My grown daughter lives with me now as she is finishing college. I get to travel as much as I want (which is a lot). I have been averaging about 20-30 presentations a year in 20-25 cities. I live in a delightful older house with just the right size yard. I’ve created the life I want and I’m living it.
When I travel, I take extra days to see the sights and relax. In 2015 I took 50 vacation days, including two separate weeks in Australia, a week in England, and a week in Hawaii.
I write at lot. I read a lot. I travel a lot. And more than most people, I spend a great deal of time hanging out with friends I really enjoy – all over the world. My favorite combination is: Sharing a meal, at night, outside, near the water, with live music. The more of those elements I can combine, the happier I am.
No one’s life is perfect. But I’m happy to have the self-awareness to appreciate that mine is very good. I’m going to work very hard to keep it heading in the right direction.
. . .
And how about you? What were (are) the happiest times in your life? If “now” isn’t on the list, what can you do to get it there?