I finally read a whole book! It was a short one but it was one full of impact. The book is called "the five secrets you must discover before you die" by John Izzo Ph.D.
I'm a people person so this book truly kept my interest. The "secrets" are conclusions from hundreds of interviews with people who were nominated by people in their lives as being happy people. I really enjoyed reading about what other people think leadh them to happiness.
I truly agree with most of the book. I also think I am leading a happy life (not that I needed a book to tell me that). I did disagree with one of the "secrets". One of them was "give more than you take". I think that the concept does leave people feeling good about themselves but I wouldn't make it one of the secrets to having lead a happy life. I personally think that having something to look forward to every day would be a better one.
I think ideally most people want to give back more than they feel they've taken. I think it is impossible for many and that shouldn't be something that hinders happiness. Life is not an even playing field for everyone. Perhaps religious beliefs lead to a feeling of necessity when it comes to giving and taking. A feeling of responsibility to the world at large is something many just don't have. I'm not sure that hinders their happiness though.
Don't get me wrong, my family gives a great deal to charity and tries to help out friends and family whenever possible. One of our goals is to start a foundation and really concentrate on some of the causes we hold near and dear. I don't think that people who have been handed tragedy after tragedy should feel they need to "pay back" in any way. I say you should be happy with giving when you can and taking when you need and not keeping score.
The reason I would replace that sentiment with always having something to look forward to is that I know the value of anticipation. Look at the joy kids get out of "waiting" for Christmas or their birthday. Perhaps many adults lose the happiness that comes from anticipation. I certainly haven't. Often planning for something is as fun as actually having it. I think the day you have nothing to look forward to is the day you have to fight to care about life at all.
One experience in my life that lead to my feeling on the subject was when I had gall bladder attacks. I had no idea what was going on and no idea if it would ever go away. No amount of morphine or any other drug they gave me even touched the pain. That was the first time I ever thought it would be okay to die. If all I had in my future was pain, then I had nothing to look forward to.
One of the greatest sources of happiness in my life is looking forward to the experiences I'll share with my family. Looking forward to sharing the joys of life with my kids. Making memories with friends and family. Isn't that what it's all about?
I highly recommend the book and a strong look at the questions it poses for your own daily life.