Enjoy life!!


Last night, some friends and I had dinner at an Asian restaurant. At the end of the meal, I cracked open my fortune cookie to looking for some sage guidance from the cookie gods. Here’s what I got:

Enjoy life!! It is better to be happy than wise.

Despite the fact that this is quite possibly the worst advice that I have ever heard, this phrase has stuck with me all day today. The first part is fine; there’s nothing wrong with being encouraged to enjoy the life I am living. It’s the second half that’s had me thinking though. Everyone knows where this type of mindset leads. Sure, momentary happiness has its place, but eventually unwise choices will lead to a place of utter misery… right?

A few years ago, I realized that I wasn’t really enjoying life. I was living it, and living it well, but the life I had crafted didn’t make me happy because it wasn’t the life I wanted to be living. There were so many things I wanted to try, to do, to see, but I was missing out on those experiences because I was too busy playing it safe. So I started making lists. Every year, I make a list of new things that I want to try, to do, to see that year… and then I do them.

The first year, there were some random biggies: get a tattoo, travel around Europe, pierce something, learn how to belly dance. The next year, things got a little more focused:  build better relationships, finish grad school with honors, get healthy. Over the years, I’ve noticed a pattern that stands true, regardless of how big or small the challenge. I’ve found that its easy for me to put something on a list. It’s easy for me to figure out how to do, plan the steps, set the date. But each time, without fail, there is a moment when I almost back down. It happened when I was about to hit the button to purchase my plan ticket to Europe. It happened the night before I got my tattoo when several of my friends who were supposed to go with me backed out… and again when they backed out of the belly dance classes too. It was like this little voice appeared, telling me, “You don’t have to do this.” With each of these things though, I pressed through the fear and did it anyway, and didn’t regret my choice for a second.

The source of my hesitation isn’t a fear of making the wrong choice; I hesitate because taking action means making a choice. It means stepping forward down a path that I have chosen. Taking action means chasing happiness, it means creating the life I want to live rather than just living the life that happens to me. Playing it safe will almost always look like the wise choice. I could have saved that money that I spent traveling, but I would have lost that experience.

Several months ago, I left a job that I hated to start to building a life that made me happy. Now I’m at the tough point though, where I have to take action. Every day, there are lists of things that I have to do, obstacles that have to be tackled. And every day there are concerns: money, opportunities, failure. And every day, I hear the voice… I don’t have to do this. It’s true; I don’t. But I know how unhappy that other life made me.

I know this is a bit of a departure from the stuff I normally write about. I felt like to be honest with you guys (and with myself), its important that I share all the details of this journey, not just what I eat and what I wear but also where my head and my heart is at. I want to make this new life work. I want to find a life filled with happiness, a life that I enjoy. It’s funny, the wise part comes easy for me. It’s the being happy that seems to take a lot of hard work.

But I know its worth it.


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