Have something to live for. It doesn’t matter what it is; having a goal or an event to look forward to is enough to keep most people moving ahead, even in times of strife. For some people, the anticipation of their next golf game among friends brings happy thoughts until game day happens. For other people, spending time with grandchildren or other family members provides a fun outlet in everyday life. As for me, I am always looking forward to the next time I will have the opportunity to hear live music, whether it is in the form of a famous band playing in a large concert hall or some of my friends playing in a local restaurant or lounge. I love music and hearing it performed live is, in my opinion, far better than listening to it on my home stereo system or car. I also look forward to the next fun travel experience, often including one or more friends. As I write this post, I am looking forward to David and I taking a trip to Jacksonville, where we are meeting our dear friend, Suzanne, for a long weekend at the beach. Suzanne is in the Army JAG Corps., currently stationed in Fort Bragg, NC, and Jacksonville is a good halfway point for us to meet and spend time together. I also look forward to hosting family members and friends in David’s and my home and overall, I look forward to pursuing my quest to “move onward and upward” with each passing day. People who have little or nothing to look forward to often get caught up in the drudgery of daily life, which can result in an inward, self oriented focus, sometimes leading to a self imposed pity party. This sort of negativity dampens one’s overall life and often leads to isolation from others, which can cause a vicious cycle that is hard to break. Having something to live for doesn’t have to be in the form of a huge life event, but striving to maintain an outward focus, involving other people, can create happiness that cannot be achieved by mindlessly sitting indoors, watching sad news on TV. Try it.
Having an interest in something or some things that challenge one, or are intrinsically rewarding, is not as difficult to do as perhaps, saving the world from polio or malaria (goals of the Gates Foundation). But, having interests, an outlet for mind and body, is a positive thing. I recently had someone, for whom English is not a first language, ask me “what sports do you practice?” It took me a second to comprehend because unless one “plays” a sport, “practice” is not an issue. Her question, though, was broader than whether I played a sport for exercise, or other reason, but also to include sports I might find of interest. The answer for me with sports is really “none.” Playing or watching. As Melissa pointed out, our substitute for sports is music. For me, wildlife photography is another reason to live. Watching animals, mostly birds, in their world, observing their behaviors, trying to anticipate their next moves, is a wonderful experience and mind clearing activity. Fortunately, there are many locations near me to do this. The fresh air alone is a tremendous benefit; some sunshine is great too! (Of course, wearing a hat and other sun protection are a must.) I can’t imagine living a life where one’s job is repetitive and “going to the salt mines” is a real way of living. Obviously, someone has to do some of these routinized jobs, and I’m glad they do. But, I hope they are able to find a life, beyond the routine. Our jobs are far from routine, but having a purpose in the work – to enjoy the activities of life – makes the chaos endurable. For Melissa and me, there is a purpose in our work, beyond any financial rewards that is, to help people. That reward, in addition to being able to enjoy life because we work, keeps us in forward motion as much as possible.