Why Your Definition Of Happiness Changes As You Get Older

“Well are you happy?”

This question was thrown at me on a bit of a whim.

Whether my mental lapse was due to the mojito I had just finished, or the fact that I had asked the question not expecting to have it thrown right back at me, I was at a loss for words.

Was I happy? I really didn’t know.

On paper, I had no reason not to be. From the outside looking in I came from a relatively well off family and had parents that parented me as well as any child could wish. This good fortune allowed me to receive a university education, have a well paying job, and a condo lined up for me when I returned home from traveling Asia for the summer.

Rough life, isn’t it? 

But what the two sentence synopsis didn’t include was all the dirty details of my “perfect” life.

The anxiety disorder, sick father, 4 jobs in order to be financially independent from my parents and do what I love most (which was to travel). But even with all those clouds, as I sat back and reflected on my life, I couldn’t escape the fact that my sky was still relatively sunny.

Sure I had my hardships, but everyone does or will, and for the most part, the cards I had been dealt were pretty damn good, right? Right.

That, my friends, is what you call perspective. And it is something that has taken me an embarrassingly long time to learn. Quite frankly, when asked that question, “are you happy?” my initial answer had been no. A coward no at that.

You see, the person asking me that question was one of the workers I had befriended at the 5 star resort I was staying at in Mexico. And because the hardships of his life were told to me in a heartwarming confidence I will not elaborate, but I will say that the cards he were dealt were a much rougher hand than mine. When I asked him if he was happy his answer was instant.

“Yes, I have to be happy, I have no reason not to be. I am so fortunate.”

Fortunate? Now given his upbringing and the tragedies he had overcome, fortunate would have been the last word that would have came to my mind. When I asked him to explain why he thought he was so blessed it was then that I received this lesson in perspective. Truthfully, it was then that perspective smacked me blankly in the face.

“I am alive, and I am healthy and without those two it doesn’t matter how much money or how successful you are, it means nothing.”

Sure statements like this have been said hundreds of times before, and sure the root message of this conversation is one that has probably been preached to you one hundred times. But there’s just something about someone who on the surface seems to have so little to be thankful for telling you firsthand that they are blessed. Someone who when conversing with them I couldn’t help but think it’s not fair they were dealt the cards they have.

But that’s the point. Whether or not you think your cards are “fair” is a byproduct of your perspective. Whether or not you think you’re a lucky person is all a result of your perspective on the events that have happened to you in life. I believe that life events, both great and small, are a result of the decisions we make consciously and subconsciously. And the first step to make better decisions to appreciate what you have and live in the present moment.

Asking people if they’re happy is a question that has become routine for me. I’ve been amazed to hear who is content with their life and who isn’t, and as a result I’ve also been amazed at how many people have opened up to me about their trials and tributes of life. But now, when I get asked that question in return, my answer is almost instant.

“You could say I’m pretty damn happy.”  

Featured Image By veroo.roy.

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