Friday, April 6, 2012

The Mix Of Life

When I was a kid, I thought life as a grown-up would be good or bad.  One or the other.  You're either ecstatically happy or tragically not.

I was wrong.  The older I got, the more I realized life is a mixed bag of cookies.  It is usually good and bad, simultaneously.  Which means that what you focus on (the good things or the bad things) often determines your overall happiness.

For example, my first boss was a wealthy lawyer who was anhedonic.  That means he was incapable of enjoying life.  Despite growing up poor, he got rich by good luck.  He invested in real estate at the exact right time and simply lucked out when the entire market appreciated.  Then he spent the rest of his life wasting that money.

It used to amaze me how unhappy he could be on a daily basis when he had such good fortune.  For example, he'd complain about the (minimal) cost of maintaining his $120,000 Mercedes.  He'd complain that his $15,000 Rolex watch didn't keep good time.  He complained about everything and he lived with a sour mood -- while enjoying opportunities far beyond my meager reach.

My experience has also been that when some things soar in life (e.g., work, finances), other important things plummet (e.g., the health of a parent).  Sometimes I feel the universe conspires to keep us from being too happy or too sad by alloying the very good/bad with its opposite.

Do you feel life has both good and bad in it?  Or just one of the other?  How do you handle this?

(I took these photographs last Sunday during our nature walk.)


  1. i think life has both good and bad in it but i try to focus on how lucky i am and how good things can be. it can be difficult sometimes--but it's worth it!
    unfortunately i don't think i zapped anyone with my all-velvet ensemble yesterday. it would have been really funny though.

    1. Yup! That would give new meaning to an old TV ad for telephone service: "Reach out and TOUCH someone."

  2. I agree with you. It's a mixed bag all the time. Things can also be as bad or as good as you make them. I remember a time when I was living in another country and super irritated by a certain someone. I was convinced the whole experience was going to be a disaster. Then one day I thought it's only going to be so bad if I let it, time to stop complaining and make the best and try to see the good in that person. That attitude change made all the difference and suddenly things started looking up!

  3. I agree 100%. I am fortunate enough to come from wealth but was always raised to respect things in life that money can't buy. Happiness, home (not a house), health and love. I know without those things millions are worth nothing. And now that I am a parent, I know making such money always comes with a price, meaning you have to sacrifice something like time with family. I am not saying that is always bad I am just saying I understand that everything has a price. And it is all about what you are willing to give up for something.
    I personally have a lower standard of life right now if that means I can be involved with my kids and their activities. Life is too short...

  4. Preach! I feel the same exact way. If there weren't yucky moments, the good ones would be lost. I think it's how we deal with the bad ones that make the good ones even better.

    Love you!

  5. Life is crazy. I think we all expect it to go a certain way. My philosophy towards life has just been to be impulsive and go with the flow. It's a hard philosophy for a structured OCD person, but I find myself happier than trying to make everything just so.

    The bad stuff still hits me badly, but I find my "neutral point" is higher on the Happy Scale than it used to be.

    I grew up poor, but never realized it until I got to be a teen that I didn't really have a lot of the things "everyone else" had. I technically still count towards the lower end of the income spectrum, but I shop wisely and now find the things I want. I also feel happier being able to save and shop sales for those things versus buying them outright. It feels like a victory.

  6. Life has a whole lotta bad in it. A whole lotta. I don't really know how I handle it. I'm a cynic, but I'm happy most of the time, too, and usually in a pretty good mood. It's weird. I guess I'm just a mixed bag altogether.

  7. I read a quote the other day that said "at the end of the day you can either focus on what's tearing you apart or holding you together". i believe life is never going to be perfect but you can chose to look at life perfectly. attitude is so important and so is being thankful for the good. if life was perfect, how boring would that be?

  8. I think it is a mix. It also depends on how you react to things and learn to cope. I think learning to cope is the secret. I have seen people lose it all and their spirit happily moving on, sometimes that makes me think that we give to much weight to things that are nt that important.

  9. It is definitely a mix. I try to focus on the good. If something bad happens I deal with it and think of something to be thankful for.

  10. I agree that there is often a mix. Personally, I simple aim for peace...and try to ride the waves.

  11. you take the good, you take the bad, you mix 'em both and there you have the facts of life...

    haha, sorry! I definitely know there is keep us in check, to teach us...something!

  12. Hmm that's a good question. I never thought of this, but I agree that it's a mix. Maybe you can have a bad period at work but a happy and relaxing period at just depends I guess.
    Life is a romantic poem

  13. I think it has to do with the same effect when poor people who come into money, and dont know what to do with it, they end up spending it, and squandering it, where they have no control, and go bankrupt immediately..
    what i learned...
    1=Materialism does not make you happy.
    While money can make things easier at times, the amount of money one has should not measure their happiness levels.
    2-Friends, Family, Loved ones, the spontaneous wonderus and simple beauty of life makes one happy....
    only until the balance is too much when one would get stripped away of who they are because they are giving, giving, giving to everyone else
    3-It really is give and take.
    For as much as a person gives of themselves, they should be receiving and taking in return.
    4-you cant control everyones feelings..You can assist in some of the variables, but you can't control how everyone feels