I was listening to a radio talk show while driving to Pennsylvania yesterday. The guest was a psychiatrist who claims that in order to be truly happy, one must possess a high level of maturity. He went on to describe three attributes of maturity (a) capacitance – the capacity to handles stresses and anxieties without “discharging” in ways that are destructive to oneself or others (I liked that one because he used an electricity analogy), (b) the ability to learn from past mistakes without remaining a victim to past hurts, and (c) satisfaction in meeting obligations.
I found myself wondering about this connection for myself. Certainly I’m more mature now than I was in college. And the happiness I experience at this stage of life has a different quality, depth than at other stages in life. However, I’m a little reluctant to minimize the freedom and enjoyment of my college years as not real happiness. The guest would characterize my state of mind during those years as being carefree, but not really happy. I’m not sure I agree.
What I do know in my gut is that happiness is about both gift and commitment to growth. If I try to “chase” the warm, fuzzy feelings of a profound sense of well-being with which I’m blessed from time to time, that’s the one sure-fire way to make them disappear. Living in the moment, with gratitude – I have a hunch that this is really the secret to living well. I know that sounds tired and trite, but in my bones, I feel the truth of it.
It is really touching to me when I meet others who have come on hard times, like the guests from the rotating homeless shelter we hosted at Gesu a few weeks ago, who when asked how they are, respond, “I’m blessed.” Talk about a lesson…
Any thoughts come to mind for you about a connection between maturity and happiness? Or anything at all about what gives you joy?