Often, I find myself sitting in the corner of my barely-lit room, squinting under the dull lamplight and pondering over the vast possibilities that exist in the world.
I think, wonder, dream and imagine.
I think about the countless different ways that my life could’ve gone, either for better or for worse.
I wonder about those possible paths and imagine a variety of ways in which I could have made my life go in one of those directions.
And I dream for another chance to change it somehow, to do the things that I know are not in my power to do, to want the sort of satisfaction that I know isn’t within reach.
That’s how the majority of us live our lives.
We dream. We ponder. We imagine.
We fathom a life that’s different to the one that we live. We think that if we went back in time, we could’ve done things differently.
Maybe if I’d decided to do A instead of B, I would’ve been richer than I am now.
Maybe if I’d thought about C before D, then I could’ve been content in love.
Maybe if E had come before F, I would’ve accomplished what I always wanted to.
And maybe, just maybe, if G hadn’t happened, my life wouldn’t have ever taken the course that it had.
I’d have lived a different life altogether. I would’ve been a different person. This life wouldn’t have been the only one that I know. The people in my life wouldn’t have been the only ones whom I valued.
There could’ve been more to life if certain things hadn’t happened.
Life could’ve been better.
But then again, everything could’ve taken a horrible route altogether.
That’s the thing with countless possibilities. You never know which one will lead you to happiness. Upon reflection, you think that you might have made the wrong decision, but that’s only based on knowledge of the consequences of the choices that you initially make.
How do you know that one of the other decisions would’ve led to greater happiness? Maybe this was the best possible course that your life could’ve taken out of many other horrible ones. Maybe, this was the happiest you could’ve been because of the conditions that you made your choices in.
Or maybe, everything was already predetermined and so, no matter what choice you made, you were bound to land up where you did.
But still. None of those things stop me from considering other possibilities. From considering other ways in which my life could’ve gone. Neither does it stop the rest of us.
We keep wondering because we compare. We compare ourselves to our friends and our family, to our peers and old school friends and to our colleagues and to the person who lives down the road.
Sure, Y from your old school may seem happier than you. Perhaps she’s met the man of her dreams – or so it seems – and she’s got an expensive car and an amazing job. And she looks happy – looks.
Remember one thing. You’re not in Y’s shoes so how could you possibly know whether she is truly happier than you? Maybe the man of her dreams doesn’t make her content, maybe her job is too tiring and maybe she doesn’t like driving an expensive car because she feels like it’s a burden. But knowledge of any of these things shouldn’t have any effect whatsoever on how content you are with your life. How happy you are with your life shouldn’t be determined by the level of happiness or wealth you see around you.
Your happiness is determined by the quality of experiences that you have and the people that you meet. It’s determined by the warm sensation you feel in the pit of your stomach when you kiss your partner. It’s determined by the satisfaction that you receive when you sit in your house surrounded by your loud, chattering family.
Happiness isn’t determined by the vastness of possibilities. It’s not determined by knowledge of many different choices available to you.
Happiness is determined by the satisfaction you gain from the choices that you did make. Happiness is in living the life as you chose to live it, and doing it justice.
What we don’t understand is; this is the best possible life that we could’ve been given – because it is the sort of life that we chose to live.