What would you say is the key to living a happy, fulfilling life? Some might say having close relationships with family and friends – which, I agree, is very important. Others might say living a healthy life, eating right, or exercising – these things are also very important. But at a very basic level – I think there is something even more fundamentally important: getting out of bed in the morning.
You may laugh – and I suppose that some humor is intended. But think about it. When the alarm clock goes off in the morning – you have two choices.
Choice #1: Spring forth out of bed and face the day.
Choice #2: Hit the snooze bar on your alarm and go back to sleep.
This little choice – the first choice you make every single day – sets the tone for everything else you do.
Is it possible to hit the snooze bar 10 times and still have a productive day? Sure. But think about what this choice represents. Turning off your alarm and going back to sleep means you’re opting for short term satisfaction (getting a little extra sleep) over long term gratification (having a fuller, more productive day). Choosing what feels good in the short term may be tempting – but it could also mean sacrificing even more fulfilling events later that day. I suppose this is best summed up as “you snooze, you lose” – which, like all rhyming maxims, is true.
Sacrificing short term satisfaction for long term benefit is the one thing that I think is most closely correlated with living a happy, fulfilling life.
However this principle doesn’t only apply to personal activities (like studying, exercising or practicing an instrument), it also applies to work, investing and relationships.
Working hard without reward may be painful in the short term – but in the long term it’s bound to lead to recognition and career success. Investing in the stock market and expecting immediate gains will likely be disappointing – but in the long term, well-placed investments are bound to pay off. Supporting friends and family may seem like a lot at times – but in the long term, close relationships will lead to great satisfaction.
It’s hard because it’s against our nature to do so, but sacrificing that short term satisfaction and leaping forward out of bed to enjoy a full day always leads to gratification that is ten times more sweet than a few extra hours of sleep.