What Will Make You Happy in 10 Years?

The inspiration for today’s post comes from a recent passage I read in Tim Ferris’s book, Tools of Titans, where he interviews many successful individuals, including some of the worlds happiest and wisest individuals. I cannot for the life of me remember exactly who he was interviewing when I came across this inspiration, but it stuck with me quite profoundly. In his interviews, Ferris has a habit of asking his guests what they would say if they could write a letter to their present-day selves from ten years in the past. Most of the answers are about being more patient, slowing down, enjoying the journey of life and so on. This is all good advice. The passage that caught my mind, however, was when the respondent said that he didn’t want to answer that question because that might imply some sort of regret, noting that any possible change in his past would have lead him to a different today. Instead, he said that he would prefer to write a letter to his future self.

This is exactly what I want to talk about today: what do I want to say to ten-years in the future me, and what do you want to say to your future self, 10 years from now. I hope that this can be an introspective and thought-provoking journey.

In no particular order, below is a list of things that I want to say to my future self, along with a brief explanation.

Make time for family, friends and loved ones. Life is brief and we usually never know when we may see or speak to someone for the last time. Before we know it, that moment will have passed and those we care about will turn to memories. As such, I want to make sure that I spend as much quality time with those who matter as possible, such that when the time does come, I can say with no regrets that we spent our time well, or that if I should pass first that those who loved me can say the same. I think especially of my parents. Mom is 66 and Dad is 76. While they are both in great physical and mental health, for which I am grateful, there is no denying that they are for lack of a better word: old. I have confidence that they will still be here in ten years, but nobody can say this for sure, nor can anyone predict their mental or physical status that far into the future. As such I want to enjoy as much good conversation, laughter, and adventure as possible.

I can say with almost 100% certainty that our beloved Dog Floyd will have left this earth in ten years. It is one of the greatest tragedies of existence that Man’s Best Friend lives so much more briefly than we do. Perhaps this is a way of the universe teaching us a lesson to be grateful and happy for what little time we do have, and to learn strength from the pain of loss. Predicting where I will be in ten years, I want to remind myself now to make the most of what time I have with him. Even my friends, who are for the most part in their early 30s or late 20s, who can say what will become of us in ten years. Whether it be Floyd, my parents, my college friends, my friends from home, my sister, or my girlfriend, I want myself ten years in the future to make sure he spends as much time as possible with the people whom I love.

I could easily end the post on that note with the afore-written discussion encompassing to me what is probably the most singular meaningful aspect of life: our relationships. However, If I am to expand a bit more, which I will, I would say next that I hope that in ten years I am still writing this blog, or at least doing something similar. I have been writing now for nearly 6 months, and in that time I have found immense personal joy and happiness in writing this blog about happiness. I have a terrible singing voice, my potter explodes, and I can’t color in the lines to save my life. Art does not come easy to me. Writing is one form of art which I do feel I have at least a moderate amount of skill but more importantly it makes me joy. The personal journey which I have undertaken since beginning this endeavor has been one of the most rewarding pursuits of my life and I hope that there are those of you out there who have enjoyed my work the same. I have created much happiness in my life simply by having these discussions, by researching these topics, opening my mind, and thinking introspectively such as writing this blog has required me to do. Whether I get only a viewer or two per day or whether I one day find myself standing in front of a packed audience on a Ted Talk like Brene Brown, I hope that ten-year future me is still doing this work.

The next wish for myself would be that I (continue to) make my mental and physical health priorities. When it comes to physical health, this is something that has long been a part of my habit and personality so I have no doubt that ten-year-old me will be prioritizing physical health. If there is anything I would say about this, I would say that I hope I am treating myself with kindness and respect in regard to physical health. I have to realize that in ten years, physical performance will likely be more challenging for me, as I move into my 40s. There is no reason I can’t be in excellent physical shape, but by and large we start to see some small decline in performance at this age. I hope that I can accept the natural aging process and rather than berate myself for not being what I once was, I hope that I can treat my body with love and respect, training it for true health, longevity, and comfort rather than pure performance. That said I have every intention of competing in competitive athletics again very soon, so I hope I have a few extra trophies on my wall in ten years.

When it comes to mental health, my hope is that in ten years I will finally have conquered my anxiety or at least seen improvements. This year I have already seen marked improvement both from beginning this blog which has been very therapeutic for me, but also by regularly attending therapy sessions and by having difficult discussions about my past with some of those closest to me. I have found therapy and discussion to be incredibly meaningful to growth and progress, and while the conversations are scary, I find that I inevitably am better for having had them. I will continue seeing a therapist, though perhaps at a lesser frequency, and will meditate, read, think, and do whatever else I can to keep moving my mental health in the right direction such as I have lately, particularly in the past year.

I have to say that I have found this post to be extremely introspective and therapeutic for me to write. Rather than simply read about me and my goals for my self in ten years, I hope that you will practice this for yourself. Think deeply about what matters most to you, and who you want to become in ten years. Remember that you and you alone are responsible for where you end up, make sure and take the time to steer your future in the direction where you want to go.

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