Living Today

I find myself planning and working for the future, for payoffs and rewards in a month or a year, for which I am willing to pay with happiness now.  Only to find of course that there is always another month, another year to wait.  True, the future must be planned for, and there are surely rewards tomorrow for prudent action today.  But somehow, I am learning, I must discover how to live a life of happiness today.  Not someday when things quiet down and there’s enough in the bank and I’ve gotten beyond these problems — but today.  The idea that we can live temporarily unhappy lives in pursuit of payday/someday, when we will be set for life and ready for happiness, is a sad illusion.

Life is of a piece.  The future is woven of the thread we spin today.  It is silly to imagine that a “temporary” life of tension and stress is preparing us for a future day of relaxation and peace; that a provisional life spent compromising our ideals and deferring our deepest longings will one day give way to a future of fulfillment and deep joy.  It doesn’t work.  “What shall it profit a man,” Jesus asked, “if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”  You can’t live a soul-ebbing life and somehow pull out happiness in the end.

In a culture of achievement we naturally assume a path to happiness:  get on it, do the work, and — enduring a baleful journey of indeterminate years — you will eventually arrive at bliss.  But there is no path to happiness, only a path of happiness.  In other words, happiness is a state, not a destination.

— David Anderson, Breakfast Epiphanies:  Finding wonder in the Everyday, p. 88-89

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