Monday, March 24, 2014

They Say It's My Birthday



My calendar says it's my birthday, and the Beatles tell me I'm "gonna have a good time," so I might as well oblige. After all, why not? I can't have too many more birthdays in my future, if any. It seems like every year, someone I knew in grade school or high school passes. One of my best friends from those days died years ago. I even wrote a blogpost about it.

But what kind of "good time" do I want to have? Do I want to spend the day sating myself with hedonistic pleasure by eating, drinking, and being "merry"? Well, I couldn't do that even if I wanted to. I have driving and chores to do, including getting a new passport photo taken for an upcoming trip to Thailand, and bowling league tonight. Besides, hedonism seems overrated to me. I'm more into happiness, which can be almost the antithesis of hedonistic indulgence.

Yes, I know there are philosophers and therapists who say happiness is overrated too, and that the more we pursue it, the faster it recedes from us. But my notion of happiness borrows from Aristotle's "Happiness is an activity of the soul in accord with perfect virtue."

In other words, happiness is doing like they sing in the old U.S. Army commercial: "Be all that you can be," or, at least, working diligently to do this. It's living a life of integrity in fulfillment of one's highest principles and in patient but steadfast pursuit of one's grandest goals. And, to my way of thinking, it's mindfully doing all of this with the love to which Augustine referred when he wrote, "Love and do what you will" and Mother Teresa spoke of when she said, "In this life, we cannot do great things; we can only do small things with great love."

Some people say love is overrated. I say it's not rated highly enough by enough people. Too many make excuses for not loving their fellow humans and animal and plant brethren. I don't make excuses. I just have trouble loving people. I always have. But here, early into my seventh decade of life, I want to love more and to find ways to do it. One way to do it, it seems to me, is to act in a loving way.

Psychologists tell us that if we can't feel the way we want to act, then we can act the way we want to feel and our emotions will tend to follow suit. I believe this. When I smile, I feel happier. When I carry myself with confidence, I feel more confident. When I walk and talk and comport myself in a more calmly deliberate manner, I feel more mindfully contemplative. So, I want to devote today to doing all of those things. To acting loving, confident, and contemplative, and to wearing a persistent smile on my face.

Hey, there are worse ways to spend one's birthday. So, Happy Birthday to me, yeah!

1 comment:

Thomas Armstrong said...

Happy birthday, Steve. Remember: You're only 30 twice.