Happiness

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” Henry David Thoreau

I like classical music, but not as much as I wish I liked it. To be quite honest, sometimes the fast and buzzing sounds of a symphony make me feel anxious and keep me from concentrating. But now and then I buy an album or tune the radio in just to try to learn to love the sophisticated genre of music that opens the mind for many people. 

And then there’s hiking. I don’t do it often and when I do, I enjoy it and even more so, I really admire people who spend their free time climbing trails in the brisk mountain air. But given the option on a Saturday morning, I find myself happiest running, or settled in to a coffee shop, writing. Yet I still feel guilty for not being a more prolific hiker.

It’s not just classical music and hiking that I try to convince myself to enjoy more. I wish I liked business social events. They’re a great way to meet other business people in the community but conversely, they often leave me drained. I admire beautiful gardens and sometimes wonder why I don’t spend more time in mine. Sometimes I even try to convince myself I should go out for Happy Hour on a Friday evening, after a long week, instead of curled up with my family, dog included, waiting on Dateline to start. 

Why is that I find myself trying to change my mind and questioning my instincts? Because I think I should want to enjoy those things—because other people do, because others find great value in them, and because I fear I may somehow be missing out.

In the end, I waste my time mentally wrestling with myself over doing things that I am really  not passionate about instead of actively participating in the things that I do. 

It’s true that sometimes we need to do things we don’t enjoy if it is part of a larger process we’re committed to. However, it’s important to recognize the difference between that type of conviction and simply pushing ourselves to do things we don’t find appealing because we think we should. Authenticity and happiness are closely related. 

 
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