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Lasting Happiness -- Writer's Poke #426

I like to watch football, but I couldn’t tell you much about what happened last season. I do remember who won the Super Bowl, but that’s just because it happened a few weeks ago. Who won the past five Super Bowls? I don’t have any idea, do you? And how did all of the hours I spent watching football last season improve the life I’m living today? Unfortunately, I can’t honestly say that any of that time spent was an investment in my future well being. We all need our diversions, and I’ll continue to watch football. Nevertheless, I recognize that I need more in my life than football to be content. I need to engage in activities that have lasting value. When I spend too much time just “killing time,” I feel unsatisfied. In fact, more than feeling unsatisfied, I even feel angry; and I feel depressed.

Staying engaged in activities that matter takes some dedication; it is work to stay out of the rut, but ultimately, it’s much more fulfilling. This year I made it a goal to go to the gym at least twelve times per month; I’ve achieved this rather modest goal, and it hasn’t been easy. If I didn’t have a specific goal in mind, it would be all-too-easy to stay home and watch TV. Watching TV, however, won’t make me feel better once I turn it off. A good workout, however, does make me feel good when it’s over. 

One way to determine if an activity has lasting value, then, may be to gauge how it makes us feel not in the moment, but in reflection once the activity is over. If we want to be truly happy, we must pursue activities that have lasting value. Watching football is fun for the moment, but it has no lasting permanent value. 

What diversions do you like to engage in? Do these diversions keep you from pursuing lasting happiness? 

“The highest, most varied and lasting pleasures are those of the mind.” – Arthur Schopenhauer


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