Living in the present ensures true happiness


Gabrielle Meidar

In life, we often make choices to satisfy our aspirations of success. But what is true success? We never know when life is inevitably going to be taken away from us, so we must take advantage of the present and not lose sight of what makes us happy.

Gabrielle Meidar , Lead News Editor

At the age of 10, I knew what I wanted to study, where I wanted to live as an adult, and how many kids I wanted to have; I had a meticulously laid out checklist of what my future was going to look like and an innate drive to follow the plan and, eventually, check each box. 

I was 10 when Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election. I was wearing my favorite pair of Hillary socks as the news came in. Even then, I recognized that her loss was a setback for women, and while I understood the enormity of the circumstances, I did not let it stop me from wanting to take the helm and contribute toward large-scale social change.

That day, I went to a bookstore, bought a law school textbook and began taking notes. Now, I recognize how unrealistic it sounds for a 10-year-old to be purchasing a legal textbook, but I’d always felt politically engaged. Even from a young age, my parents never shielded me from challenging and complex conversations. 

While this exposure to the world did not define my upbringing, it undoubtedly played a role in how the next few years would play out. I was constantly thinking about how I could check the next box whether it be winning a tennis tournament or acing my finals.

It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago when I joined Amber – who often walks our dog – for a trek around Hyde Park, that my perspective changed: I realized that life is a journey, not a mission. 

Amber checked every box. Make the Great Britain national rowing team: check. Get recruited to Yale University: check. Land a job at BlackRock: check. 

As a generation, we tend to get so caught up in our goals that we lose sight of why we ever wanted them in the first place.”

But the sudden loss of her father and her diagnosis of neurological Lyme Disease, six years later, made her question her next move. 

As we watched my mini-Maltipoo chase after a dog six times her size, Amber told me about the epiphany she had. She hated her job, which she had worked toward every day since high school, and she realized she didn’t have to keep doing it. Through her diagnosis, she recognized the importance of focusing on what truly makes her happy. She turned to dog walking and went back to school to pursue her true passion: psychology.

As a generation, we tend to get so caught up in our goals that we lose sight of why we ever wanted them in the first place. We are so focused on building a concrete future plan instead of what brings us happiness today.

We must give our checklist the time and space to change as plans won’t always manifest the way we expect. Yes, setting attainable goals is a way we can cultivate responsibility and organization. However, we must accept that the present moment is where our control lies. 

Society has always painted a picture of what we should want and has undoubtedly influenced the content of our checklists.”

Society has always painted a picture of what we should want and has undoubtedly influenced the content of our checklists. We are told we should work hard in high school in order to attend a top university. We are told we must major in certain subjects to land a solid first job at a prestigious company. We are told we must aspire to create change in the world, but this is not the right path for us all. 

For example, at the family dinner table, after we go around and share the highs and lows of our day, my mother often references her dissertation on women in the workforce. Through our conversations, I have recognized the immense amount of guilt many stay-at-home mothers face. 

We often fail to appreciate those who choose this path in order to wake up each morning and look forward to something that brings them joy. Forty years ago, being a stay-at-home mother was the goal, yet today we assume that those mothers did not work to check all the boxes on their lists. 

We are told that as women, we must fight to advance in our careers and break the status quo. Yet, it is neither my nor any other person’s responsibility to single-handedly dissect society’s perceptions and expectations. By taking our individual paths, we will not only have a greater sense of self, but we will also grow to become more satisfied, whether or not our initial plans have come to fruition. 

So, I encourage you to stop and think about why you have set your goalposts where they are. Once we accept that they will inevitably need re-adjusting, we can enjoy the beauty of now.