In a recent post, Bucket lists, quests, and meaning in life, I explored the theory that there is more happiness in the pursuit of a personal goal or quest than in the accomplishment itself. Chris Guillebeau described this convincingly and entertainingly in his book, The Happiness of Pursuit. I had a number of comments, both on the blog and on Facebook, but one email response really stood out. This response came from a long-time friend who also happens to be the dean of libraries at my university, the very library where I found the books that inspired the post. Lesley connected the happiness of pursuit with making the choice to be happy.
She shared with me that as she read my thoughts about the happiness of pursuit, she was reminded of her mother and how she had lived her life by choosing to be happy. Having known her mother very well, her words resonated strongly. I can only hope that everyone knows someone like her mother. To use Lesley’s own words:
“I often reflect on the choices she made about happiness. I don’t think her outlook was as much about the pursuit of a quest or bucket list (although she certain crossed lots of grand things off her list!) but about the day-to-day choices in life. I remember saying at her funeral that she chose to be happy. I say that with respect, knowing that many people can’t make that choice and would love to be happy. What it seems to me that mum did, though, was to actively choose to do the things that made her happy and thereby gave those who loved her the gift of her being happy. This may only make sense to those who knew her very well, but I think it’s valid. She also chose to see things as positively as possible. While I think she was blessed with a positive outlook, I do believe that she chose to live her life this way as well. With tears in my eyes I’m sharing what I said at her funeral on her happiness: Continue reading
Posted in Life stories, Women
Tagged be there, commitment, family, fresh air, friends, happiness, inspiration, just do it, kindness, look for the best in people
Work-life balance is huge these days. The lack thereof, that is. I can remember before my mother went back to work, way back in 1960 or so, she would have killed for that kind of challenge. She was bored and frustrated by being “stuck” at home while the rest of us went off to lead our lives (to work or to school). Ironing basket loads of clothes and making sure that dinner would be ready when we all got home was not her idea of life or balance.
All these years later there are way, way more women who can enjoy the satisfaction of having their own careers. That can only be a good thing, for many reasons. But, as we all know, having two people working at busy jobs, especially when there are children of school age or younger at home, makes for very busy households with scant time for oneself. Somewhere, somehow, there’s got to be a happy medium. Continue reading
As I mentioned in my previous blog, Freedom to choose, most of us make decisions that impact our lives all the time. Sometimes our decisions turn out to be inspired, other times not so much so. Sometimes they turn out to life-changing, other times pretty mundane. As it happens, my decision as a high school senior in the suburbs of NYC to choose McGill over my other options for university (which I called ‘school’ or ‘college’ at the time, in the American vernacular) was both inspired and life-changing. I’ll be honest, I made that choice on a whim. I liked the idea that it wasn’t what people were expecting, that I’d be living was in a big city instead of in a sleepy campus town, and that Montreal had a real winter. Those were the winning criteria for my 17-year old self.
The unanticipated consequence was that, aside from a quality education in an absolutely amazing city (and definitely with real winter), I not only fell in love with the man who became my husband, I fell in love with Canada. And so, in 1972, I became a Canadian citizen. A very proud Canadian citizen. And increasingly proud as the years go by. Continue reading
Posted in Life stories, Uncategorized
Tagged Canada, Canadian flag, Canadian national anthem, choices, citizenship, college, compassion, decision making, empathy, Expo 67, family, happiness, history, inspiration, leadership, McGill, Montreal, university, winter
I’ve been mulling over the challenges we face when we find ourselves having to rely on others for some (or all) aspects of our lives after having been independent for as long as we can remember. After having made our own decisions for as long as we can remember. This isn’t easy, not easy at all. It may happen because of mobility issues or other limitations due to infirmity, or simply because of advanced age. When my nephew posted this fabulous image on Facebook earlier today I realized that what I’ve been thinking about is really how to preserve our freedom to choose – to make our own decisions – in the face of limited independence.
I know, this sounds like a sobering subject, but not nearly as sobering as the world’s political landscape right now, and at the moment it feels like there’s far more chance of helping improve our freedom to choose in vulnerable situations than in helping restore a civil tone in public discourse or de-escalate counterproductive trade wars. So let’s stick with our freedom to choose. Continue reading
Posted in Just wondering, Life stories
Tagged aging, Atul Gawande, Being Mortal, decision making, family, happiness, illness, independence, living wills, meaningful lives, motivation, nursing homes, quality of life, seniors' residences, trade-offs
I have been blessed. My family has been the beneficiary of lots of wonderful fathers. The importance of having a father whose love is unconditional cannot be overstated. I had such a father. Not for nearly long enough, but long enough for me to know I was lucky to have had him as my Dad. My Dad died 53 years ago, when he was 53. Wow, that’s a sobering thought. But it also reminds me that one’s influence lasts forever. As all of us who have lost loved ones know, they are always with us. I count myself among the lucky ones in the Father department.
One thing my older son taught me early on is that a young son may be joined at the hip with his Mom, and may shower her with heart-melting smiles and giggles (from time to time), but he looks to his Dad for his role model. I have to admit that I found this slightly devastating when it started becoming obvious to me when he was about 20 months old, but I eventually came to appreciate – reluctantly – that even at that very young age he saw his role in the world, and it wasn’t being a mother! Continue reading