In my mid-20s, it dawned on me that I had saved enough money to sail around the world.
Instead of a trip, I took a promotion.
By my early 30s, my net worth had grown and I took a leave of absence, to effectively, exercise all-day everyday.
It wasn’t a feeling of financial security that pushed me to make the change.
It was a set back, an unexpected divorce.
Other major changes have been triggered by unemployment or massive financial loss. In buddies, I’ve seen health issues as the trigger.
Most recently, it’s been misery. Unexpected misery has proven to be the most useful part of parenting.
A story about coping…
Since 2008, I’ve done, or seriously considered…
- Studying ministry
- Teaching my kids, my wife’s family’s religion
- Selling my house, buying a catamaran, sailing around the world – this would include boat-schooling my kids
- A bioscience degree
- Various start-ups
- Returning to finance
- Pursuing a world-title in a niche sport
- Pursuing a world-title in another, even smaller, niche sport
- Relocating to Australia
- Relocating to California
Pretty big list but I’ve discovered that major change is unlikely to be the solution to a question, that I’ve had difficulty framing.
In my search, two mantras popped up…
Everything I need can be found at home – there is no happiness available in a new sport, new town, new house, new job, new partner… that isn’t available within my existing life.
Meaningful work is part of the solution – everything that I’ve enjoyed in my life is a result of effort. I’m constantly trying to fool myself that doing less will create more happiness. I have the means to make myself miserable through sloth.
But what to do?
There are two traits with guaranteed huge payoffs to myself and every person with whom I interact – patience and kindness.
Patience moves my inner life towards serenity.
Kindness vaccinates my mind against anxiety and the opinions of others.
At some stage in your life, I hope you realize that you are free. When that realization touches fear, and a feeling of “WTF now?!”, I hope you remember to fall back on kindness and patience.
What does all this have to do with my kids’ laughing?
After five years of effort, I wouldn’t describe my inner life as jovial. However, I live with three of the happiest children in the world.
When I listen to their frequent laughter, I know that I am happy enough.