Happy vs Content
What do you want most out of life? Seriously, answer the question.
Two weeks ago I walked in to a gym looking for a kick boxing class. I was in the wrong gym (I found out later), but the owner, Dave, was there and the first thing he asked me was, “What do you want most out of life?” I thought it was a rhetorical question but he just stared at me quietly, so I started thinking. He then said, “Yeah, I know, it is happiness. That is what we all want, isn’t it?” I told him no, that wasn’t what I wanted out of my life. “I want a full experience. I want to be able to look back on my life and say that I lived fully.”
Dave smiled. I think it was refreshing for him to hear. I feel like we hear so many people talk about how they want to be happy. It is an admirable goal. The Dalai Lama said, “The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” Happiness is one of the best feelings life has to offer. And after all, who doesn’t want to feel good? But, in my humble opinion, there is more to strive for in life than just happiness; strive for fullness.
My mother is one of the people who know me best and she phrased it accurately when she said, “Kelsey, you have always wanted a rich, full experience. You don’t just go through life, you purposefully experience it all.” I will not tell you that my life has been easy, because it hasn’t. And my life hasn’t been impossible, because I’m still here. I have had both easy and hard times, smiles and tears, ups and downs. I think we all have. I notice though, how many people shy away from the hard. I can’t blame them; being down feels like sh**. But do you let the possibility of being down keep you from living fully? Life is a risk; take it!
When I was 20 I moved to Spain for three months to study abroad. It was one of the most exhilarating and terrifying experiences of my life. I flew there without knowing where I was going to live, without knowing where my school was or having enrolled prior to going and without knowing a single other person in the city where I was staying, Granada. Yes, this is the point when you can call me crazy. But after three months, I can tell you (still to this day) that it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was hard, no doubt. I had to make new friends (they ended up being awesome, by the way. You know who you are!); I traveled alone at times and even felt lonely on occasion. Looking back though, I think it was the tough stuff that made it as rich of an experience as the good stuff.
We can’t go through life thinking that it will be easy. It won’t. But if you live fully, it will be worth it. To have a great life, you have to struggle at times. God does give someone an easy road to walk down and then call them to great things. No, He says: struggle, keep trying, fail, get back up, and then you will be ready to do great things. And so when I think of happiness, I do strive for it. But when it’s all said and done, I would rather have contentedness. I would rather look back over my life and know that when it was hard, I made it; and when it was fun, I enjoyed it; when it was sad, I cried and when it was funny, I laughed. The full spectrum of a life lived well is not only marked by the good, but also by the hard. I hope my life includes a lot of happiness, but more than that, I hope I always feel content that I have lived my life fully.
So, what do YOU want most out of life? Really, I want to know.