What Makes Me Happy
I spent years in the rat-race, chasing more money, more prestige, more toys. At some point, I got everything I wanted and ended up at the top of the mountain, so to speak. The first thing I thought was, “Now what?” I began to enjoy the more simpler things. It’s crazy that you need to go through such a vapid and desperate climb to the top, only to realize most of what you needed was where you began. But that’s the paradox, you often need to put yourself through a lot of hell to get “there”. I am not done with growing, changing, or moving forward but I think have the foundation for contentment. Here is my list of simple pleasures.
Running- Anyone can do it, you can do it anywhere, you can do it alone or in a group, you don’t need any special equipment, and it makes you feel really good. It gets the endorphins going and you feel healthy afterwards. It burns off the calories of the great beer and food I eat. Signing up for races includes a lot of good social interaction and crossing a finish line regardless of distance is one of the greatest feelings ever.
Great beer and food- Delicious craft beer, running to breweries, and savory BBQ is at the core of my happiness. The craft beer explosion has resulted in countless interesting brews to choose from for every taste and sampling this vast world is always stimulating. There’s always a place for me whether it’s close to home or traveling around the globe. BBQ, ranging from smoked brisket to spit-fired pork butt and with sides like pimento cheese and baked beans, is readily available in most areas and fuels me with all the nutrients I need to stay strong and healthy.
Cold and heat exposure- Taking a cold shower, taking an ice bath, or just laying in the cold for a few minutes makes me feel wonderful afterwards. It’s a silver bullet for all my hangover, recovery, or anxiety needs. Hot exposure works the same way. Jacuzzi, steam, or my sauna blanket for 45 minutes makes me feel like a million bucks afterwards and gives me a positive attitude for the rest of the day.
Company- Connecting with family, friends, or your community, especially over good beers and food, is probably the most important part of this equation. Run with people, run to breweries and meet people, meet your loved ones and celebrate life. There’s nothing better than feeling awesome by getting a good sweat in, having great food and beer, but also being surrounded by like-minded people you can converse with and try to understand more.
Learning- Expose yourself to new knowledge, challenge your mind and stay stimulated. Read a book about something you’ve always been interested in, do a crossword puzzle even if you need to look up the answers, try a new skill even if you suck. I have always been intimidated by computers, but am currently learning Linux, SQL, and cybersecurity. It’s intimidating but it gets me excited about life. I want to keep learning more and creating new opportunities to see how crazy life can get. Not only are skills marketable for your professional life, but it gives you a perspective that leads you to be solve more of life’s problems.
That’s it! Moral of the story is, run to breweries when it’s cold while listening to an audiobook, meet with good people, and eat good food and beer. This should take care of 99% of your problems and give you a sunny disposition in life. If you’re not quite there, this will either get you there or keep you where you need to be!
Bonus Points: If you want to be a little “extra”, hunt down a beverage called Malört. It’s a wormwood liquor that not only helps digestion but makes you feel happy. It’s mostly available in Chicago, but can currently be shipped around the globe. It will give that additional “oomph” to your beer mile or post-BBQ drowsiness.