Want the Good Life? It's Easier Than You Think

It's what we all want.

The good life.

Now a new study says it may be easier than we think.

According to Vanderbilt University anthropologist and World Health Organization well-being adviser (did you know there was such a thing?) Ted Fischer, it's not about getting more money or things, but a journey.  He studied German supermarket shoppers and Guatemalan coffee farmers to discover what hopes and dreams they share, and how anthropology can tell us about what the “good life” means for all of us.

“It’s not just money, and I think we’re realizing that more and more,” Fischer said. “But that’s a big realization because for a long time we’ve thought that money is the answer.”

 A journey?  You know all that talk about life being not a destination but a journey?  Turns out it might be true.  For the longest time in my life, I thought -- if I could just publish my novel, move in with my boyfriend, find a more fulfilling job, get married, have a child -- then life would be perfect.

But sadly, (or maybe not so much) life doesn't work that way.  How often have you really, really wished for something to happen, it didn't, and then, months or maybe even years later, you see how it didn't need to?

I do that a lot with my son.  I desperately want him to get into AITE next year (it's decided by a lottery and we haven't had much luckwith that!).  But I also know that if he doesn't, he will do just fine at Stamford High and that that's where he's meant to be.  

It's taken me many years to accept the knocks and disappointments in my life.  But nine times out of 10 -- maybe even 10 out of 10 -- what happens instead of the dream is, if not better, at least as good.

I guess it's all about accepting what comes your way in life.  Who knew this could lead to happiness?  But I find, at least with me, that it's brought a peace, a sense of calmness, to my formerly frenetic life.  I no longer have to wait for three red cars in a row at a light (he'll get in!) or make sure he writes just the right thing for his application essay.

I've learned to trust that what is meant to be will, well, be.  And then I see the journey I've been on. 

It's not easy of course.  Certainly, you don't always get your way and it's hard sometimes to not be bitter.  But I know if I take a deep breath, and relax, in time it will come to me that something better may be on its way.   All I have to do is accept that, and wait.

So I guess life is a journey.  Looking back I see now that I needed to marry a man who was a little bit withdrawn and frugal with his emotions, but now that I'm a little more comfortable with commitment, I'm not so scared when he tries to take my hand, like he never did in the old days.

As for having a child late in life, sometimes I regret I didn't do it younger, when I had more life ahead of me, and the possibility of having another.  It was a long road to having my son, with several unsuccessful pregnancies along the way.  But now that I have him, I realize I had to go all the way down this road, heart-breaking as it was, at times, to wind up with the child I was meant to have, all along.

Am I cool about not having my dreams answered?  Of course not.  It takes time to come to acceptance about not getting something you really wanted.  But there's a beauty when that acceptance comes, a real peace.  And if he doesn't get into AITE, I'll know he was meant to go to Stamford High, and that everything will be well, my favorite mantra, and all is as it should be. What better good life can there be?


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