I've just finished reading Hector & The Search for Happiness, an engaging story of a psychiatrist who was searching for... happiness. More precisely, he was looking for rules of happiness.
He discovered many different rules, and each one has its own ring of truth around it. It's not meant to be heavy, but sometimes we all need a little nudge to make us realize what makes us really happy in life.
I like it that his first rule is "Making comparisons can spoil your happiness". That, to me, is the problem with a lot of people, including myself. While making comparisons allow us to innovate and create and generally improve ourselves, at the end of the day, does it really make us happy?
Anyway, I wish to highlight an important conversation Hector had with another expert on happiness. Apparently, there's a simple way to "measure" your level of happiness. Just ask yourself these three questions (I'm paraphrasing...):
1. Where are you now as compared to how you see yourself should be?
2. How are you now and how were you in your best moment in your past?
3. What do you have now and what would you like to have in the future? (I'm not sure this is what they have in the book, but it kinda make sense)
The gap in your answers practically shows how happy you are presently.
If for example, at this moment you're an up-and-coming executive, and that's how you imagined life would be, then the gap is virtually non-present, making you at least happy in one aspect of your life. But if you're single, but you imagine you'd be married by now, then definitely it will cause some measure of unhappiness.
The 2nd question is a little bit different. Closing the gap is pretty good (meaning that you're as happy now as you were when you were happiest before) but it would be great if your present self is far happier than your previous self ever was.
My only problem is closing the gap of what I have now and what I want in the future. Being too ambitious is a double-edge sword in that you seldom feel satisfied with what you have, even though what you have is beyond your expectation. I've gotta be mindful of that.
In any case, I am blessed, and if I were to die today, I wouldn't have much regret. Can you say the same?