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Do You Have to Continually Grow as a Person to Be Happy?

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I was having lunch with a group of fellow Toastmasters when one of them, Tom, shared an experience.

When he was a youngster Tom spent a lot of time fishing with an older man who lived in the town. When he finished high school Tom went off to the Air Force and later moved to California where he had a family and enjoyed a long career.

When Tom retired, he returned to his hometown for a visit and went down to his fishing spot to reminisce about the good times he had there. To his surprise, the old man who was his former fishing companion was still there over three decades later in his old familiar spot patiently waiting for a fish to take the bait.

When the old man looked up and saw Tom, he greeted him “Where’ve you been?”

I’m not sure what else the old man had done in the incurring three decades that had passed,  but clearly he consistently kept up his favorite pastime of fishing. To Tom it seemed that this old man’s life was frozen in time and yet he seemed happy.

Is it necessary for all of us to go after bigger and bigger goals, move to higher and higher heights in order to be happy? What if this old man had maintained his same routine for all those decades without pursuing any new goals, meeting any new challenges, or expanded his thinking beyond what it took to keep up his daily routine?

When I think about happiness as a destination, I believe there are some people for whom it is a short trip. They discover in childhood or early adulthood what they enjoy, where they prefer to live and their passion. Then they spend their remaining days enjoying it.

What do you think?


  1. I believe that life is like nature. It goes in cycles. It ebbs and flows. Sometimes it’s great to reach for the stars and other times it’s better just to be where you are. Where we run into trouble is when we either push too hard or sit too long. Everyone’s equilibrium is different, but as long as you recognize and honor your need for one or the other, it can be wonderful either way.

    Thanks for an insightful and thought-provoking post!

    • Meg, you are absolutely right when you draw the parallel to nature. We are part of nature and surely we go through cycles as well. You’re so right that everyone is different. We not only get in trouble when we don’t honor our own needs, but also when we try to impose our needs on others.

      I’m delighted that you made time to participate. Thanks.

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