Sunday, February 14, 2016

What Makes a Good Life?

It's really impressive that Harvard has been running a 75-year old study on happiness and satisfaction. The fourth director of this study, Robert Waldinger, recently did a TED talk on adult happiness. I suggest you spend 12 minutes to watch this video -


My parents got it spot on.

Growing up my parents insisted that we all be home before sunset. As a rebellious teenager I always broke this rule (well my class normally ended at 6 in the evening). My parents only went out for very special occasions and preferred to hang out with friends/relatives at home. It was also preferable that my friends would come and visit us at home so they could meet them (and validate they weren't bad influences hehe).

Looking back I now realize that my parents knew what was essential -- relationships. They lived very simply and focused on family, relatives and a close set of friends. We normally ate at home and eating out was a big treat. Shopping was an affair that was pre-planned and we only went shopping when needed. And the preference was to stay at home.

My Kuya during my Mom's 80th birthday celebration shared that our parents really lived up to be a true Christian. Our home was home to whoever needed a home. We always had extended family who lived with us and my parents always extended a helping hand to those who needed it. I remember my Dad worked on a project that freed prisoners who were innocent but jailed. And he gave free legal advise for those who needed it. My Mom mentioned that early on in their marriage farmers would come to their home bearing live chickens as a thank you for my Dad's legal advise.

And what Mr. Waldinger shared is so true. Happiness and satisfaction isn't about being rich or famous. It's about being in good relationships. And that's why my prayer for this year is to have my family together in one country (so I'm not so sickly!).