A recent speaker told a story that I think most of us can relate to:
Whenever I get in the car, I have a driving companion named Tom. He warns me in advance and reminds me just before a turn comes. Even if I make a wrong turn, Tom patiently tells me to turn around and that he’s “recalculating”. When I finally get to where I’m going successfully, Tom triumphantly exclaims: “You have reached your destination!”
Too bad living isn’t as easy as my GPS has made driving. But Tom is just a machine and he only tells me how to go where I want to go. Tom doesn’t decide the destination. And even when you know your destination, you can still get mixed up because of the pressures that influence us in life.
When we don’t have a goal, or when the goal is obscured, we lose our sense of purpose. So, we come to this basic question: What’s your life goal? What’s the destination programmed into your GPS?
Today, sit back and think about your life…not the problems of the world, but your own life and how you feel about things. Ask yourself, what’s my goal? The answer for most of us, very simply, is happiness. We want to feel happy, which means that at any given moment we want to feel good about things. We talk about having the right to the pursuit of happiness, but you must pursue happiness because it sure isn’t going to pursue you. So how do you do that?
A Harvard study spanning 72 years followed 268 men beginning in the late 1930’s through war, careers, marriage, and divorce. The program’s director, George Valliant, found that money or fulfilled ambition were not what made them happy. Instead, the ability to adapt brought them happiness.
Think about it: How well do you adapt to the things that happen in life? The question is not how much trouble you have in life. You can have very few troubles and not be able to cope with them. How do you respond to pain, to conflict, to uncertainty? Nothing stays the same. For good or for ill, everything changes. If things are good, we want them to stay that way, but life just isn’t like that. They might get better or worse, but they will change. So if our goal is happiness, we must learn to adapt to life’s changes in order to stay happy.
We always talk about “someday”: Someday we’ll do this, and someday we’ll be happy. My hope is that today will be someday, that you will find composure in the midst of changes that life throws at you, and that you will soon hear a voice say loud and clear, “You have reached your destination.”