A unforgettable philosophy teacher taught me an invaluable lesson: You don't have to be happy, you just have to be.
These days we are so accustomed to instant gratification. If you need a coffee you can drive thru and grab one, stop at the grocery store, have a cup of coffee delivered by hand OR you can buy a whole bag online that will be sitting on your door step within HOURS. This era of instant gratification is accompanied by crippling anxiety for those of us that have to WAIT for anything. We feel as if we are failing or wasting time when we don't see results immediately.
A hundred years ago our main focus was to survive, sustain and reproduce. That meant everybody had their role. If you were raised by a baker, you'd bake. If you were raised by a welder, you'd weld and so on. Not everyone followed this, on no - there are always rebellions. However, as a society we had a general direction. This simplicity backed with religion gave many people direction or purpose.
In today's world individuality has blossomed. Our society values being different while coexisting. It is beautiful and the possibilities are ENDLESS. You can be who ever you want, make money however you want, have a family, be single, work three jobs, work remotely or not work at all. Adversely, the more options we have the more unsure we are and the more stressed we become. "Am I making the right choice?" "What if I am missing out on other opportunities by pursuing this?"
Interestingly with less freedom, we gain gratitude. By focusing on what we already have or what has already been chosen for us, we focus less on what we don't have or what we are "missing out" on. We have so much freedom, that we are stressing over absolutely every detail of our perfect little lives.
Its like being taken to get ice cream and for all intensive purposes, you love ice cream. You are envisioning a strawberry cheesecake sundae - your favorite. Upon arrival you are presented with 25 different choices. You stand there in dismay imagining the flavors of each choice. "Hmm" you say perusing the colors and textures. But you can't decide because they don't have the flavor you were thinking of. You spend 15 minutes complaining about how they don't have your flavor. You hastily chose an alternative and proceed to huff and puff about how your original choice would have been more satisfying. You are so distraught by this bump in the road that you don't even enjoy the ice cream in your hand or the trip to get it.
Oppositely, if you had a hankering for ice cream, while stuck at work and were immediately presented with an ice cream cone - you would be grateful regardless of the flavor. Our ability to chose is both a blessing and a curse. While freedom is beautiful, it complicates things.
There are so many of us. So many lives, jobs, relationships, children, loves, losses etc. So much expectation to BE great, rich, fulfilled, happy, strong, famous, different; we forget to BE. We forget we are animals. That BEING does not need to be followed by action. That as human BEINGS we have no obligation to BE anything. We are living, breathing organisms that basically need to survive. Once our basic needs are met, we find the next tier of needs to tend to, creating a vicious cycle of lack.
What we need to do is be more grateful of what we have, the people we have and the life we have - here and now. Because in another hundred years, we will ALL be an expression of a dead era.
The secret is - once you realize you don't have to BE ANYTHING. You can BE yourself. You can BE anything, everything, all the things or nothing - its entirely up to YOU.
The next time you feel like you need to BE better, faster, stronger, smarter, cooler, richer... remember this article and remember : You don't have to BE happy, you just have to be.