Often the best interactions in our lives are when we are asked really great questions. Recently I gave a talk on fitness to 55 residents of a community in Fort Myers, Fla. They were a very participatory group and most appeared to be regular exercisers.
The questions following my talk went on for 30 minutes. The last question was from a woman near the front who had been an active participant. She asked, “What brings joy to your life?” One of the men in the audience said, “Exercise,” and she responded, “Let him answer.”
After thinking a bit I told her the story a psychologist friend told me recently. She mentioned a friend of hers who said she begins each day by asking herself, “What can I do to make my husband Rick happy today?”
Initially I misunderstood, thinking that she was doing something big for Rick every day, but that wasn’t the case. It was small things like making his breakfast or buying something he’d like at the grocery story.
I told the lady that I was trying to emulate this behavior by doing small things for my wife Deb. If I can do things that make her happy it will improve my joy and happiness also.
I’ve pondered the question more since then, thinking about other things that bring joy to my life. One is to have a son who’s turned out to be a very good human being. It’s nice that he’s been successful, but that’s not the most important thing. Personal characteristics such as honesty, integrity and concern for others are key. It also helps that we are very good friends.
Several years ago a charitable trust that we’d established in the 1990s matured, leading us to give all of the funds to various charities. It brought considerable joy to our lives to be able to establish scholarships at several colleges plus provide donations to a number of nonprofits that we care about. That enjoyment has led us to increase our annual charitable donations.
Exercise and healthy eating have certainly helped to provide joy to my life. It’s nice, as I approach my 80th birthday in October, to be able to do virtually everything I was doing 20 or more years ago, albeit at a slower pace. Six of us did a 110-mile bike ride a week ago, in flat and windy southwest Florida. We improved our average speed compared to the past few years.
I think the the most joy has come from doing something for someone else.
I’ve given a lot of talks over the past five years and feel that this is the best question anyone has ever asked. I wonder how many of my readers would answer this question? I’d love to hear from you.