Friday, June 18, 2010

On Happiness: The Big Question

It's not "which came first,
the chicken or the egg?"

I sit down in the seat to be interviewed by my professor and not know what to expect. To make it even more interesting, I didn't practice going over a single question that would be asked during an interview. Smart, right?

Nearing the end of the interview, I should have expected this:
Professor: So, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I answered with one or two options I foresaw, but I don't think it was a concrete response. More so, it was where I'd like to be.

Done with one, next I shuffled over to the room next door to be interviewed by the lab manager.

This one ended:
Her (the lab manager): Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hm, again this question. I gave a similar response and learned afterward that my professor and her didn't know they asked the same question.

It's fascinating how many times I've come across this question or something similar.

In 2nd grade, our class had a guest come and talk. In a circle, one by one we stood up and said what we wanted to be when we grow up. I forgot what most kids said, but I remember hearing NBA player and dolphin trainer among the responses. I got up, said I don't know what I want to be, and sat back down. I didn't think much of it, but he made me stand back up again and said to everyone that is perfectly fine (along with other stuff I can't recall).

Senior year of high school, my health class teacher said write down where you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, and then some time later. My mind was drawing a huge blank.

Seeing yourself in 5 years, what's the significance of it? What's it show? That you have plans?

It seems so strange to me. 5 years ago I was 16 and high school sophomore year finished. Back then, the most fitness-related thing I did was quit drinking soda.

I was 16. I didn't know I would,
  • Be working with kids on a regular basis.
  • Drop engineering at 17 for Psychology.
  • Take up a Religion major at 20.
  • Not care about what school I go to.
  • Get involved in weight lifting.
  • Be reading books. (I despised them)
  • Be writing this blog.
  • Meet all these people in my life.
  • Lose so many people in my life.
  • Head an organization.
  • Be helping other people.
That's 5 years. And you know what? I probably missed a ton of other things.

This past spring, my friend and I went to talk to our professor. My friend asked when he should go live as a Buddhist monk in a monastery. Now while he's young, easy to soak up knowledge & be molded or older when life is more peaceful & settled.*

My professor told him he is young now with a lot of opportunity, but a very distractible mind. During your later years, it would be easier to live as a monk but what if your life is different, what if you fall in love?

Life isn't predictable.

How can you predict where you see yourself in 5 years? If you did know, where's the excitement in it? How can you account for other people - old & new - in those 5 years?

As you can see, I'm not a fan of the question. However, I think there's great value in the reverse.

Look back at the last 5 years, what have you accomplished that you didn't account for? What has happened? If someone asked where do you see yourself in 5 years, did you answer correctly back then? If so, are you happy about it? Are you happy now?

In 5 years, a lot can happen.

Have a good weekend everyone.

*He's currently at a monastery in Korea. I hope he's doing well.

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