Why the Work is Important
If you continuously compete with others, you become bitter, but if you continuously compete with yourself you become better. ~ Anonymous
One of the things about moving to a new place is meeting new people. This is something that I’m not particularly good at. It usually takes me more time than most for me to build up any kind of a social circle. This time around I’m doing a little better than I usually do and as a result I’ve been fortunate enough to have some interesting conversations, including some fairly deep ones. Some of the new people I’ve met have been deep thinkers and in the process of the getting to know me have asked some really good and deep personal questions.
Although I’m someone who has spent more than his fair share of time diving into his own head, I haven’t really been there in a while. My most recent year of travel saw me in a really active frame of mind, focused on my situation and travels more than myself. So in these recent conversations I’ve been asked to dive back into myself a little bit and it’s always nice to revisit that introspective part of myself. A realization has come out of that exercise, I may be happier right now than I have ever been in my life. Now, that’s a bold statement, and I don’t mean that I’m happier than any spike of happiness I’ve ever had, but that consistently, on a day to day basis I’m consistently happier than I’ve ever been.
There are a lot of reasons for this, there are of course recent reasons. I’ve taken a new job that looks like it’s going to be a really good fit. I’m living someplace that is fascinating, has great weather and being so close to San Francisco I get to explore a place I haven’t spent nearly enough time in. Additionally, being the attraction San Francisco is, I’ve already had the pleasure of having one friend come through, two more in three weeks and another a couple of weeks after that. I also have friends who live in the area who I will soon make the effort to visit and spend time with. Add to that the new beginnings of a local social circle and things are really good. But that is really only half the story.
The other half of the story is the work that I’ve done over the last thirty plus years. That’s of course a funny phrase, working on yourself, so what do I mean? Well for me, I was unhappy for a long time and fought some heavy depression. There was a lot of anger and despair in my heart and it manifested by turning the anger inward on me and killing my mood. I was almost always functional, I just wasn’t happy. I’ve written about it before, but I was an angry young man, angry at my parents, my situation, hell the universe in general. I didn’t have a lot of coping mechanisms, so I turned to food, booze and drugs. None of them helped of course, not for long anyway, just kind of numbed and dulled everything out.
So eventually I had to get reasonable, had to do something that actually improved my life. That’s when the work started. By this I mean I spent time looking at myself, thinking about my choices, my actions and how they impacted my life and my happiness. Eventually this meant doing some of the big things, finding ways to forgive the people who’d hurt me. Letting some of the people in my life go and more importantly letting some things I was holding onto go, the things that grind around in your brain making you crazy. I had to change some of the ways I thought and acted and the type of decisions that I made. I had to discover ways to burn off the excess energy that would eat me up. That was where my writing came into play, I found that through writing poetry I could burn off the negative energy and then, eventually, through writing about happiness could help build and improve my own happiness by helping others build theirs.
I don’t want to make this sound too easy, the idea is not complicated, the implementation however is a different story. I started in one form or another working on myself thirty-five years ago. I saw results, but it took me into my early forties before I really felt different. It is only now that I truly feel a legitimate sense of happiness and contentment. The work is not over, we can always be better. But I’m here to tell you my friends that the work is worth it. As a soon to be fifty-fiver year-old man, if I’m average I’ve got about twenty years left to live. Twenty years to do all that I’d like to do, to make a mark on my eight nieces and nephews, to make sure that I leave this life with few regrets, in the end, that’s about the best we can do. Now I might get hit by a piece of space junk falling out of the sky tomorrow, but if not, if I get my twenty years, or even more, it’s good to be at the place I’m at mentally while trying to have happy days my friends. Given that most of you likely aren’t has screwed up as I was, hopefully the work you can do won’t take you, as long as it took me, and you can have even more happy days than I do. ~ Rev Kane