On Life and Happiness

One of my all-time favorite movies is Before Sunset starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. It’s the 2004 sequel to Before Sunrise about a romance between a young American author and a beautiful French woman after nine years apart. It’s not as cliché as I make it out to be because it takes a much deeper dive with meaningful dialogue about relationships, love and life. I’d like to share some of my favorite lines from Before Sunset between Jesse (played by Hawke) and Céline (played by Delpy) and share some of my experiences that relate to these wonderful quotes:

“Maybe what I’m saying is the world might be evolving the way a person evolves. Right? Like, me for example. Am I getting worse? Am I improving? I don’t know. When I was younger, I was healthier, but I was whacked with insecurity. Now I’m older and my problems are deeper, but I’m more equipped to handle them.”

When I was around my twenties, I believed I was healthy. I felt almost invincible at times and was brash. I felt I was wise and knowledgeable enough to find a job, get married, buy a home and raise a child. However, I ended up in divorce, selling the home and becoming a part-time single parent who fell into depression and anxiety. I also had an anger problem that I didn’t take care of properly and I had a tumultuous relationship with my parents. And like Jesse, I was fueled by insecurity. I doubted my partner’s love during relationships, I questioned people’s kind intentions and I took things out on them with my anger.

The older I get, the more equipped I become in handling my problems. Through professional support, guidance and commitment, my tools for managing my overwhelming moments are readily available. Also as I get older, the more grounded I feel and less brash with my attitude towards knowing everything, and part of that is because I’m humbled by the mistakes I’ve made over the years. I’m continuously learning from my mistakes which leads into my next favorite quote from the movie:

“Life’s hard. It’s supposed to be. If we didn’t suffer, we wouldn’t learn a thing.”

Although that statement isn’t absolute, there’s a lot of truth to it. If I didn’t fall and scrape my knee open into a bloody mess when I was ten years old riding a bike, I might have taken longer to learn to ride at top speed down a steep hill. As an adult, I’ve had relationships end because of my insecurities, anger and abusive behaviors. Through the suffering, I learned a great deal about myself and about meditation, practices of self-kindness, going to counselling, facing my past, the value of compassion and taking accountability.

“I have this idea of my best self, and I wanted to pursue that even if it might have been overriding my honest self.”

I view my best self as the guy who lives up to the expectations of society: big home, great job, beautiful wife and kids, a couple of nice cars and annual luxury vacations. Admittedly, I wanted to pursue all this in my twenties when I felt invincible and when time seemed infinite.

As I’ve gotten older and realized that it’s time to truly suck the marrow out of life, I want to live as my honest self.

My honest self isn’t the guy chasing someone else’s dreams and aspirations…it’s about pursuing mine: I live in a small apartment where I don’t have excess space to hoard, I’m happy being single because it gives myself more “me” time to learn and grow, I drive a decent car that gets me places and my annual vacation trip is usually going camping which is perfect because of how much I love the outdoors.

I love living as my honest self because I can share about who I truly am. I can openly talk about my abusive childhood and how it affected me as an adult who made poor choices and mistakes. And I’m also becoming less afraid about what others might think and as a result it’s such a rewarding and liberating feeling. Thus, my honest self is also about accepting who I am and no longer hiding shamefully behind a mask. And finally, as my honest self, I can hopefully blaze a trail for my son and others to follow.

Today, there are many things that I do that make me feel happy: writing, spending time with my son, hanging out with friends, exercising, reading, watching tv, playing video games, playing basketball, going for walks and much more. These are the things I look forward to and I’m thankful to be able to do all of them regularly.

To summarize:

The older we get, the more life experience and wisdom we’ll gain. We’ll all continue to have challenges, but because of what we learn, we’re better equipped to face them.

Life can be tough! We all have a story of our own to share, we all have a responsibility to learn from our suffering and we all can do a better job in taking care of ourselves.

Let’s be our honest selves. Shed what society wants us to be and pursue that which makes us feel happy!

Happy Friday Everyone!

Jason

On life and happiness

 

2 thoughts on “On Life and Happiness

  1. I’m glad that you’re saying that life gets easier to handle. Personally, I’m going through a lot which just heaps up and heaps up, and I feel overwhelmed often. It’s not getting easier to handle for me, and I feel like life is out of control.

    It’s nice to have reassuring words that we can at least handle the pressures of life through time.

    Liked by 1 person

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