It’s 4:37 a.m. on a Friday, and I haven’t felt this eager to write in a long while. Water. Breathe. Coffee. Write. These morning rituals remind me I’m alive.
As I go through my writing routine, my thoughts wander to the mental checklists we all keep — those where we assume that reaching a particular milestone will unlock a new level of contentment. Yet, when we arrive, we often question who we are and whether this is what we genuinely desire.
I recently had a moment of clarity while journaling in a park overlooking a lake.
A dog and its owner were playing fetch.
Have you ever watched a dog chase a ball? It doesn’t pause to think about what its life would be like if it missed the catch.
This simple moment serves as a reminder that happiness often resides in the little things.
As Plato once said, “The greatest wealth is to live content with little.”
In this age of constant self-evaluation, driven by Instagram-perfect images and carefully curated personal narratives, it’s easy to lose perspective. I’ve served in the military, made it through a divorce, multiple career shifts, and can tell you that striving for an idealized self can lead to emotional confusion.
I often question the lessons I’m imparting to my daughter in a society hyper-focused on external validation. How am I supposed to raise a daughter if I am a man grappling with his identity while trying to heal from the past?
I’ve realized that happiness isn’t solely about accomplishing tasks or meeting personal goals. Post-divorce, I thought I could fill the emptiness by doubling down on work and ambitions.
I was wrong.
It’s misleading to believe that focusing solely on individual achievement will automatically transform your life into a masterpiece. Perhaps it’s the Marine in me speaking, but trying to win your battles solo is futile. Being part of a greater purpose often provides the missing ingredient.
Striving for big things isn’t the issue; it’s when the quest for ‘better’ leaves you feeling stressed, hollow, or burned out that you should pause to reassess.