Quite often I have a longer than usual conversation with a friend on the telephone. Not necessarily to make plans or discuss grandiose accomplishments (if any) but really, just to have a discussion with someone who can relate to my feelings of being consumed by the day-to-day events that have become my life.
My life…ah, too often like a spinning mental rolodex I recall what it’s been like. Sometimes it shocks me that I had never imagined so many things that are my current reality. I read this quote recently and it really made me think.
Marcel Pagnol once said, “The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.”
Those words really resonated within me. I decided to remind myself (Adhering to my recent mantra that contrary to popular belief, happiness is hard work) I should be honest with myself about my past, my present, and my future.
I am not going to list all the mistakes I made. I really don’t think anybody should as it could lead to some unhealthy thoughts of what might be. What I will say is that I am grateful of a few things.
1. Thank goodness I was lucky enough to be a kid who made choices that lacked common sense and at the time, no one had to know about it. Video cameras and smartphones, not to mention the social media, have allowed today’s youth an over- exposure that would have made me wildly uncomfortable. I am grateful for the luxury of privacy that I have received.
2. I would have been far worse off had I not had a wonderfully patient and stern set of parents. To this day, I can still hear them in my mind reminding me that I can always be a better version of myself. As a writer, you can imagine how I might feel knowing that even in this moment, there are no words to describe the appreciation I have for them.
3. Sometimes I look back to my past and I have a “those were the days” kind of moment. I feel like nostalgia should be the name of a Greek goddess who lures people back in time.
I am not going to discuss where I think I should be in my present moment. What I will say is that I don’t suppose anyone thinks about the possibility that their thighs might be rubbing together by the time they are in their thirties. Sometimes I look at pictures of myself from the past and I can’t imagine why I had a complaint in the world of how I looked. When I am an old woman I bet I’ll have this same thought when I look at a picture of myself in this moment. These are a few things that help me be happy in the present moment.
1. I try to be consciously aware of my better-days and my not-so-good days. If I’m feeling mildly unhappy I avoid social media. I think it’s called the “happiness reel.” It makes me think that people are out there experiencing life and I am just sad. TRUST ME online most people appear to have their shit together and that’s just not the case.
2. I analyze my surroundings. This world (even the state I live in) is highly competitive and in the grand scheme of things I am doing okay. Things could certainly be worse.
3. Not only do I have a great family but I have stellar friends. I am at a point where I have eliminated toxic relationships and that has led me to love. Which brings me to-
4. I have the love of an incredible man. He understands and supports me. When I think about having him in my present it makes me feel better about my past. I must have done something right to deserve his companionship.
I try to smile about what might be. One of my favorite activities is imagining some of the infants I know as teenagers. Imagining myself five, ten, thirty years from now is less amusing. I’d adhere to a few things that make my thoughts of the future more delightful.
1. I try to live in the moment and keep a grasp on my finances, not living too much beyond my means. I still buy lotto tickets every now and again remembering that you can’t win if you don’t play. Possibility can be fun.
2. I play. On the daily. Working hard is inevitable but laughing hard is mandatory.
3. I often read and re-read what Marcel Pagnol once said.
“The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.”
Bravo sir. And thank you for the reminder.