In the movie City Slickers, when Billy Crystal’s character Mitch asks Curly for the secret of life, the old man replies that it’s just one thing and you have to figure it out for yourself.
It’s true that we’re all different, and we each have something special and specific that drives us. But we also all have common needs. The secret to a happy life? I believe it’s just four things.
1. Health. This somewhat underappreciated gift is often taken for granted, until we lose it. If serious illness befalls you or a loved one, your happiness barometer will drop from full to empty in seconds. Even a minor ailment can make you miserable. When I was suffering from pinkeye and a persistent virus, I couldn’t see clearly, I didn’t feel like doing anything, and I felt like a useless human being. Now, besides the gratitude I feel for waking up each day, I tell myself how lucky I am to be able to see, to hear, and to walk without help.
2. Time. Most of us feel we never have enough time to accomplish the things on our To Do list, let alone our Want to Do list. We may juggle a day job, family obligations, and if we’re writers, struggle to eke out a little time for our craft. We’re expected to multi-task, always be available and responsive, and keep all the balls in the air, and that causes stress. And stress, in my opinion, is the single most powerful deterrent to happiness.
3. Money. Of course it’s essential. Money alone can’t buy happiness but it’s hard to be happy when you’re always worried about making ends meet. Worry causes stress. Stress makes us unhappy. But how much money do we need to be happy? As Curly might say, that depends. Some people can be happy living in a shack by the river and fishing for their daily food. Others can’t be happy, or think they can’t be, unless they drive a BMW and own a vacation home and a yacht. We’d all like to have more money, but to be happy, you may not need as much as you think. Here’s my formula: You need enough money to pay the bills to maintain your current lifestyle, with a little bit left over for an occasional night out, vacation, or that too-expensive hot pink sweater you’ve been dying to purchase.
4. Love. We all need someone with whom to share our hopes and disappointments, someone who has our back, someone who cares if we wake up in the morning. That person doesn’t necessarily have to be a spouse or a lover. It can be a close family member, or a best friend. Or a whole family circle and several good friends. Loving and being loved is what makes us human.
So what’s your happiness quotient? Give yourself one point for good health, and a point each if you feel you are managing well with your time and money. Add two points for love. Because without love in our lives, having health, time, even wealth doesn’t mean much.
And this awkward segue leads into a shameless plug for my new four-book romance series. The Unforgettable Nights books are about four friends who meet for lunch every Tuesday. Each has a one night stand that changes her life. And the first book in the series, One Night with a Stranger, is FREE.
Living in L.A.
And not nearly as edgy as they’d like to think.
One Night with a Stranger (Free)
On the rebound from a bad breakup with Mr. Wrong, Lisa Randall does something she’s never done before: has a one night stand with a stranger she meets in a bar. As amazing as the night is, the last thing she expects is to hear from the guy again. But when one night turns into two, and then three, and then more, Lisa wonders whether her infatuation with Matt is keeping her from meeting Mr. Right, or whether a passionate one night stand can actually lead to true love.
Matt Owens has always considered himself the King of Jumping into Things Too Fast. He met his ex on a Tuesday, proposed on Saturday, and married her a month later. This time around he wants to take things slow, enjoy the moment. And the attractive woman he picked up in a bar seems to fit the bill. Lisa doesn’t even want to know his last name, let alone plan a future. But as he begins to develop feelings for her, he knows his one big secret could ruin any chance for something more.
One Night with a Stranger Download available for Free at:
Amazon Barnes and Noble Apple and other e-book vendors.
Also available now for purchase or pre-order:
One Night with a Fantasy
One Night with an Obsession
One Night with the Best Man
If you’re still with me after my sales pitch, I’ll reveal my own Happiness Quotient: 4.5. I’m in reasonably good health (.5). I’m retired and have enough time to do the things I want and enough money to do them. And I’m blessed with a loving mate, two wonderful daughters, a granddaughter who always makes me smile, and loyal, supportive friends.
I wish everyone a HAPPY holiday celebrating the love of family and friends.