Right on the heels of all the “Happy New Year” greetings in January come the inevitable predictions about the future on just about every topic imaginable. It’s an ancient phenomenon, this deep human desire to know what’s going to happen before it happens.
Mere “predictions” are not really what people want, though; they want certainty. They want to know what is going to happen, which is why throughout history, there has never been a shortage of psychics, fortune tellers or soothsayers. If you want to talk to one today, you can probably find one in or near your own neighborhood, and if not, they are very close by – in cyberspace.
Ironically, alongside this age-old desire to know what is going to happen before it happens, is an opposite tendency for people to deny or ignore the actual facts that surround their circumstances, and they often take tremendous risks instead without really realizing it. While people want certainty about the future, they’re willing to gamble on a daily basis with their money, health, relationships and more. Last summer we went with friends to their cabin in the Sierras, and while there, we went to dinner at a casino. I was actually surprised to see the place still full of ordinary people smoking, drinking and gambling – and they are just the obvious risk-takers.
Life is hard. And we are complex, perplexing creatures. Let’s try to keep it simple. Here is the only certainty you can you can base your life on: some good things are going to happen, and some bad things are going to happen. You are going to want to hedge your bets by being careful and wise, whenever possible.
Planning for the future and predicting the future are two very different things, but they are most definitely connected. It is precisely because we cannot predict the future with certainty that we need to plan for it. Without a plan, at best we are just holding our breath and crossing our fingers, hoping it will all work out; at worst, we are playing a deadly game of Russian Roulette.
A good life – and I don’t mean “THE Good Life,” which conjures up images of wine, cheese and travel – is whatever you say a good life is for you. To keep it as simple as possible, a good life, in my opinion, involves satisfaction with these basic elements of your life:
• what you do for a living
• where you live: the location and living space
• who you are with: your partner, family and/or community of friends
• the ability to express your values
• the ability to do what you love to do
• having basic mastery over your money, and a developed ability to manage it now and in the future.
This is really what life is all about – taking care of these things. If and when you experience pain and/or stress in any of these areas of your life, by all means get good help! You can’t be an expert at everything, but you can hire experts to help you with anything.