It is interesting how a topic of conversation can permeate through a friendship/family group. The particular topic I’m thinking of is one of quality of life – what it means to different people. Over the past twelve months this topic has arisen many times over drinks, dinner or just driving between venue’s/places and the people involved have been close relatives, friends and even just acquaintances. And I wonder why this is? I am pretty sure I’m not the one bringing it up – at least not recently. Maybe it’s the news that always seems to be bad or the current political situation, that makes people think about this topic.
So what have I discovered during this period about what people believe makes life good?
It seems it has little to do with health as several of my friends and relatives have long term health issues ranging from severe arthritis to diabetes and other pain related conditions and even those that may be terminal. Yet it is specifically these people who are the most optimistic and ‘alive’. So it’s not one’s health that makes for a ‘good’ life.
Quite a few of my friends and relatives are retired and live on pensions. Yes, quite a few own their houses so have a roof over their heads. But again, many do not have a great deal of disposable income. So money and assets is not the full answer to what makes life good.
Family could be the answer to what makes life good yet in several cases family has caused quite a bit of grief and anguish. So that in itself cannot be the answer either.
That about covers what most people think makes life good – health, money/assets and family. Often, in fact, these things can be seen as stressors in people’s lives instead.
So here is my take on what I’ve seen and heard over the past year of so during these conversations and my own observations. What makes life good is a ‘positive attitude’. It is looking for the good things and not dwelling on the ‘not so good’ – because it seems most people who are ‘happy’ don’t have really bad thing happen – they simply don’t think in that way. When something that others would think ‘bad’ happens, people with a positive attitude find ways to deal with these things, they are proactive and when they can’t ‘fix’ things, they look for the good and positive in them instead. For example after some surgery that did not go as expected one friend simply said “Well, at least I’m still here and I have quite a few more years ahead of me” instead of “oh dear, I’m still sick and I will die.”
I’ve seen several people who have had life-threatening conditions that doctors said they would not survive, live 40 years longer than predicted (and are still going strong) simply because they would not give in to those ‘conditions’. They look to a good future, plan for it and live toward it. Yes, it has not been easy for them. And yes, they have had their ‘troubles’. But each time they look positively forward and never let it get them down.
As for me, I’ve always been an optimist. Just ask my close family. I just didn’t realise that this optimism, the ‘knowing’ all would be well if I just kept looking forward and dealing with things as best I could, was a very positive way to live. I’ve had my share of issues but definitely not as many as others. I had a very lucky and wonderful life so far and am truly enjoying it. I will do so as long as I am able.
One of the things young people, especially teenagers, worry about is not having friends or not being popular. I think back on my teenage years and found I also worried about that. Funny thing is that in hindsight, I had wonderful friends during that period. Interestingly, over recent years I have been lucky enough to reacquaint with some of those early friends. Of course, I have to thank the internet and Facebook for some of that 🙂 as well as a classmate who organised the 1st reunion.
I think it’s my positive attitude, my acceptance of people as they are (at least for the last 20 years or so), and learning from my friends and relatives that has made me feel lucky to be here, happy in life and able to deal with ‘problems’ in the best way possible.
Oh and yes, I did do an internet search on ‘happiness’ and ‘quality of life’ and found a whole lot of stuff on self assessment on these topics. But for me, I worked it out myself. I believe that’s the only way to really understand and feel it.
Life is bloody good. Ain’t it grand!