What would make you happier than anything else in the world?

What would bring you more happiness than anything else in the world?

I find this question excruciatingly hard to answer. It might be a Libra thing—ask me my favourite anything or to identify the most or the best of any category and I freeze. For example, my sister asked me the other night, “What’s your favourite song?” Are you kidding me, Bec? I could never pick one song. She did, though—”At My Funeral” by The Crash Test Dummies, which brought back a flood of memories of a magical concert she and I attended a million years ago.  The Dummies played the UVic auditorium—her first intimate venue, Becky told me.

It would make me really happy to dance in the aisles at a concert with my sisters. But to say what would make me happier than anything else in the world? Impossible. Or almost.

(Grandbabies. Shh! I don’t say it out loud. I wouldn’t want to pressure anyone.)

The reason I mention this at all is that Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown tonight. Last year my dear friend Jenny sent a list of questions to ponder at the dawn of the new year. I answered them and put the list away. My memory being what it is (which is to say, not what it used to be), I couldn’t remember last year’s replies when I answered the questions again this morning. A few of my answers have changed, including what would make me happier than anything else in the world.

Here’s your chance to answer the questions. If you’re willing to share it, please let me know your answer to number 2.

According to the website I linked above, many Jewish people eat pomegranates at Rosh Hoshanah to give voice to a wish that “our merits be many like the [seeds of the] pomegranate.”

According to the website I linked above, many Jewish people eat pomegranates at Rosh Hashanah to give voice to a wish that “our merits be many like the [seeds of the] pomegranate.”

Meditate on each question to find an answer you are satisfied with before moving on to the next.

(1) When do I most feel that my life is meaningful?

(2) What would bring me more happiness than anything else in the world?

(3) What are my three most significant achievements in the past year?

(4) What are my biggest mistakes in the past year?

(5) What project or goal, if left undone, will I most regret a year from now?

(6) If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I undertake to accomplish in life?

(7) What are my three major goals in life? What practical steps can I take in the next two months toward these goals?

(8) What is the most important decision I need to make this year?

(9) What important decision did I avoid making last year?

(10) What endeavour gives me the strongest feeling of self-respect?

(11) What kind of person do I want to be one year from now?

(12) What kind of person do I want to be five years from now?

(13) Over the last year, did my most important relationships become closer and deeper, or was there a sense of stagnation and drifting?

(14) What can I do to nurture those relationships this year?

(15) In what areas of my life am I hiding from God(de)?

(16) What is one step I can commit to that will bring me closer to God(de)?

(17) If I could change only one thing about myself, what would it be?

(18) Are there any ideals I would be willing to die for? What are they?

(19) If I could live my life over, what would I change?

(20) What do I want written on my tombstone? And how do I begin living that way now?

Leshana tovah tikatevee v’tichatemee. May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

(Thanks, Jenny, for the list of questions. I’m sorry I don’t remember the source. Do you?)



8 Responses to “What would make you happier than anything else in the world?”

  1. Judy Jaarsma

    Like you, I freeze when confronted with any questionnaire. It makes me feel like I am back in high-school and it’s exam time! I hate it!! ~
    So, no answers to any of them from me! 😉

  2. Joseph Schreiber

    Thank you for this. My initial reaction is to avoid looking at questions like this. The past few years have been so difficult and my tendency to slip into darkness is still too tenuous. I too am a Libra, always playing devil’s advocate with myself.

    However, the mention of Rosh Hashanah made me stop and send a note to a Jewish friend of mine, someone who has been in my thoughts of late. Jude and I have been friends for perhaps 15 years, although we have never met. She lives in Brooklyn. Our bond was forged around trans identification (in his early 70s, her husband is finally expressing his female self) and the fact that we both have difficult sons. They adopted, later in life, a boy with exceptionally serious mental health concerns. He has cost them a great deal of money, worry and fear. At last report there was a restraining order against him.

    My 27 year-old son has less significant, yet serious, mental health problems and is an alcoholic. I do enable him, but at this time I do not want to push him out and onto the streets again. His only friends here have heroin addictions. But everyone seems to have an opinion about what I should do. Except Jude. She alone knows the intersection of worry, fear, and love that I feel.

    And so, long story short, the answer to #2, would be to see both of my children, but especially my son, independent and building lives for themselves. That would make me happiest.

  3. Megan

    It would make me so very happy to be able to assemble what I feel, what I believe, what I know, what I value, the skills I have to contribute, the spiritual yearning I have to bring people together in connection, to do work that fills a great need or provides a great benefit in my community, and to make a comfortable living doing so.

    Joseph – I wish for you to find that happiness.

  4. Andre Morand

    Wow, what a challenging list! Pondering several of the questions made me a little uneasy, but that’s instructive. So much of happiness seems to be an inside job. I see #2 as a call to examine my own inner roadblocks to happiness. If I could let go of a lot of the old, unresolved stuff that just bounces around my psyche it would probably bring me more happiness than anything else in the world. Not an easy answer, but surely one worth working on.

    • commatologist

      I’m happy you pondered the list, André. You’re so right that happiness is an inside job – and recognizing that, I think, is half the task. Thanks for reading, and I wish you well on your journey of letting go.


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