Are your best days behind you?
NOTE: I used a smidge of colorful language here, as I’m prone to do. If there are kids in the room, you may not want to read this outloud. But hey, I’m not your dad, so do whatever you want. Just giving fair warning.
I don't remember what initial thought prompted me to think about this intimidating question, but it popped into my head and I couldn't just leave it be.
Imagine if you somehow were told with clear confidence that all the best career opportunities in your life had already happened, and pushing forward on your current trajectory would never amount to anything bigger or more profound than you had already experienced.
This doesn't mean that things would always be in decline, but instead would stay consistently in the same space you exist at this moment in time. Would you be satisfied living the rest of your life in its current stasis, or would you continue to push hard to achieve more even though you knew full well you would never achieve anything greater?
Would you try to defy your fate, or instead make an effort to shift your trajectory by going a completely different direction? Let me give you an even more tangible example.
Imagine you're an artist and you have finally found the style and motif that feels the most natural to you—this is the work you've been meaning to do your entire life. Then by some quantum dynamic anomaly, you run into a future version of yourself, and that future you tells you that life never gets any better than it is right now. Before you have a chance to respond to that devastating news, your future-self exits back through the wormhole they came, and you're left with nothing but unanswered questions.
What do you do? Push through with a, "Fuck you, I do what I want," attitude? Do you try to pivot to find a new path that you're almost certain will change your fate? Do you quit altogether, and just live a more sedentary life? The question then becomes which of these potential paths is the one that leads you down the path of mediocrity?
We can assume that at least one of these paths is the one that leads you down the dark road, but do any of the others lead you to potential greatness? Maybe it's like those time-traveling movies where no matter what the hero tries to change, the outcome always becomes the same. Damn you, HG Wells!
As you start to come down from the mind-bending reality check you just got from your asshole, future-self, real life kicks back in. Your brain hurts from the mental gymnastics, and you just want a break from thinking too hard, and as you move from chaos to calm, and get back to a more mindful state of being, you realize there really is only one choice.
If your fate has been decided, and you know that life will only be as good as it is in this moment, then the only path that makes sense is the one where you live a life that makes you happy every day. If that was true, then you'd start shucking off all the bad vibes you get from outside sources, and only indulge in activities and hang out with people that put a smile on your face. If life is determined to hold you back from reaching massive success, then you might as well go to bed each day knowing you're just as happy as you were the day before.
Here's a new mind-bender: What if your future self only came back in time in order to fuck up your world enough to get your thinking about living happy, purpose-driven toward perpetual joy?
Stop what you're doing for a moment.
Close your eyes.
Take a few slow, deep breaths,
In through your nose, and out again.
Now think, how hard would it be to start living your life focused on happiness first?
Push aside your bullshit excuses and be real with yourself.
Joy is a choice.
Yes, there will be obstacles, and days that make life less happy, but relatively easy to bypass with a shift in mindset, or a good night's rest.