WHAT IF I'M HAPPY WITH A PLEASANT LIFE?

In our dynamic society where everyone is chasing their dream, is a "pleasant" life enough to aspire to? It is for me.

A MEDIOCRE OR PLEASANT LIFE?

Krista O'Reilly-Davi-Digui wrote a post a few years ago that asked "What if all I want is a mediocre life?" I love that concept and even wrote a post about it myself ages ago, but I'm not sure that mediocre is the exact word I'm looking for when describing the life I want to live these days. 

What if I embrace a small, slow, simple life? A mediocre life. A beautiful, quiet, gentle life. I think it is enough.

After giving it some thought I've decided that a "pleasant" life feels more apt. But in our dynamic society where everyone is chasing their dream, is a "pleasant" life enough to aspire to? It might not be enough for everyone, but I think it just might be the perfect fit for me.

WHAT DOES A PLEASANT LIFE LOOK LIKE?

I read a quote from Rohit Varma that scorned a mediocre life as one where we miss out on the spectacular. And that probably applies to a pleasant life too. There are no rollercoaster rides through thrill seeking highs or gut wrenching lows, there are very few fireworks moments, there are no big bangs for your bucks, there's no flashing neon lights, no Kardashian lifestyle excesses, and very few Instagramable moments to blast over social media.

I don't want a mediocre life.  I want a life that is spectacular. A life where I love what I'm doing every single day. Rohit Varma #quote

A pleasant life looks very different to a spectacular life, it glides serenely along, it goes with the flow, it doesn't dig its heels in and resist, it doesn't party like it's 1999. A pleasant life is a good life, it's a contented life, it's a life of gratitude and quiet joy. You might not be doing anything earth-shaking, but you're okay with that, in fact you're more than okay with it - you're satisfied and content, and not grasping after more.

WHAT DOES A PLEASANT LIFE FEEL LIKE?

In a pleasant life you wake up and smile, you count your blessings, and you're grateful for where you are and the fact that you've been fortunate enough to end up somewhere that's calm and peaceful. You don't have a mile long list of all the things you haven't managed to achieve that's making you dissatisfied with where you are in this moment. You might have small aspirations to look forward to, but they aren't stirring you and unsettling your heart.

Sometimes I pause in my day just to take the time to acknowledge how my heart feels. There's an inner sense of happiness that I don't remember having when I was striving so hard to keep all the balls in the air. You know what I mean - motherhood, work, volunteering, social contacts, routines, obligations, expectations, and on and on and on. I used to feel like I had to always be "on" and always striving to keep everyone happy - I felt like my life was constantly about forging through and forging ahead. It's been so pleasant to let a lot of that go.

IS A PLEASANT LIFE ENOUGH?

I've asked myself if this is enough for me - am I content to not be working anymore, or filling every waking moment with something I "should" be doing? Am I okay with writing a blog that will never be bigger than Ben Hur? Am I at peace with the fact that I'll never set the world on fire? Is it okay with my heart to be a middle aged woman who's not changing the world, but who is changing herself. Someone who is working on being the best version of herself and one who wants to live a life that feels authentic, and real, and settled.

You know what? I'm VERY happy being that woman. I'm proud of the fact that I'm focusing my thoughts on how blessed I am, rather than on the things I may not have achieved or I may have missed out on. There is a passage in the Bible about the Fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galations 5:22-23) - and these are what I aspire to these days. Not making big dollars, not starring in my own one woman show, just being a better person who is grateful for this lovely life I've been given.

It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly. And it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life.  Epicurus #quote

WHY CHOOSE A PLEASANT LIFE?

So, this is why I choose a pleasant life rather than a spectacular one....it's easier, it's simpler, it's less busy, less demanding, less competitive, less draining. Life is just good, it gives me a warm feeling of contentment deep in my soul. Why would I choose a life that detracts from those things? Why would I aspire to what I see on social media when it's all so superficial and here-today-gone-tomorrow-ish? It's about what's real and fulfilling versus what's glossy and easily snatched away.

A pleasant life may be something that seems boring to others, it may seem like a bit of a cop out compared to stoking those fires and rushing through life with all guns blazing, but it's what I want, it's what I have, and it's something I won't ever take for granted. It's not for everyone, but it's definitely the right life for me.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are you content with the life  you lead? Are you a roller coaster rider or a smooth sailer? I think it's great that we can all be whatever we choose - but I hope you're choosing a life that brings you a deep and abiding joy.

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In our dynamic society where everyone is chasing their dream, is a "pleasant" life enough to aspire to? It is for me.

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I'm at peace with the  fact that I'll never set  the world on fire.  It's okay with my heart to be a woman who's not changing the world, but who is changing herself. LLC
In our dynamic society where everyone is chasing their dream, is a "pleasant" life enough to aspire to? It is for me.

47 comments

  1. I am very much with you, Leanne. Slow, simple, beautiful gentle and especially quiet. My husband gave me noise cancelling headphones for a gift a couple of years ago. The best gift! We have some barking dogs across from our yard. The owners are oblivious and it has been a huge issue in our neighbourhood for the last few years. The headphones have really helped me.

    Pleasant is another good word. I think it depends on how we define these words. “Serene” and “content” resonate with me.

    Leanne, you remind me how we often do not know the difference we are making in another person’s life or in the world. Back to the butterfly effect. It may not be necessary to do something spectacular to make a significant difference. Great questions and thoughts to ponder.

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    1. Hi Erica - barking dogs do my head in as well (especially at night or early in the morning!) I think we need to do all we can to find that place of contentment and peace in our lives (even if we need headphones at time to achieve it!) The more serene we are, the kinder we feel towards others and the more positive difference we make in our worlds x

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    2. Hi Leanne, I am revisiting with #MLSTL and sharing on SM. Serenity and Kindness goes a long way. xx

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  2. Wonderful thoughts, Leanne. I agree that I would rather have a pleasant life than a spectacular one, although some bits of spectacular thrown in once in a while couldn't hurt. Have a great rest of your week!

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    1. Hi Janet - I'm open to a very small dose of spectacular - too much and it would exhaust me! I'm all about cruising through life these days - it's a much sweeter way to live!

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  3. When I first retired 1 1/2 years ago I searched for bloggers to help me “find my way”. One I followed always made me feel exhausted with charts and goals and lists and plans and finding meaning and purpose and on and on!!! I just could not gather the energy this woman had. It just made me feel there was something wrong if I couldn’t strive to achieve at least something! When I found your blog, I noticed how different I felt reading it. Relaxed. Calm. Peaceful. I realized I’m content reading, trying new recipes, walking to the ocean, traveling. Nothing grand. I was a social worker for 35 years and I experienced purpose and meaning in my work. Now I just want to relax. Your posts help me know that’s ok. I look forward to a pleasant life!

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    1. Hi Laurel - you sound like a kindred spirit! I found the same things when I read of others who were jam packing their days full of productive activities - and I was comparing that life to mine where I was happy being at home and just puddling around with little interests. Then I let go of the comparison thing - some people need all that stimulation and for their lives to be busy, I realized that I'm not one of them any more - I lived "busy" for 50+ years, now I'm happy to live pleasant and peaceful. We're all different, but I so get it when you find someone who views life through the same lens and it's lovely that we found each other x

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  4. A pleasant life does not sound boring to me at all. It sounds wonderful!

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    1. It certainly seems wonderful to me Donna - I know others are all about the spectacular, but I'm just too content with what I have to be chasing after the bells and whistles!

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  5. I think desire for a pleasant life only comes with time. When we are younger and on the way up and managing a lot we reach for the brass ring because we want it or we are encouraged to want it. When you get to a certain point, you know that you are no longer the one to set the world on fire and it is fine to acknowledge that and not want it. To get there though you have to go through the process- it is age and maturity.

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    1. I think you're absolutely right Luisa - I know I was juggling a LOT more balls when I was younger - and thought that was perfectly normal and I loved the challenge. Now I'm more settled and not feeling the need to prove myself to anyone - so I can just be me and live in a way that suits me - it's so lovely...

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  6. Great Article!
    Thanks for sharing it with us!
    I so needed to read this today!
    Take care!

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    1. Hi Amy - I'm so glad you enjoyed it, and that it allows you to slow down and breathe and enjoy a pleasant interlude x

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  7. After decades of homeschooling, teaching, and volunteering, I decided a year ago to scale way back and am now "just" a homemaker. The world would not see anything I do as spectacular - mediocre would certainly be its word - but I've always thought it's best not to listen too much to the world anyway. I feel a great deal of contentment and purpose simply in creating a sanctuary for my family, a soft landing place for loved ones, especially in these times. It is a slower, calmer, far more pleasant approach to life, and where I feel I need to be right now.

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    1. Hi Laura - I think we all have a large chunk of our lives dedicated to being super busy filling the needs of ourselves and others - lots of hats to wear and lots of boxes to tick off. Then one day a lot of us wake up and feel like that part of our journey is done (at least for now) and we can put ourselves into cruise control for a while and just enjoy the peace and serenity. I've certainly appreciated it even more during these unsettled times.

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  8. I was listening to a podcast of How To Fail featuring Alain de Botton (the things I do when I'm doing boring spreadsheet stuff). Anyways, this is what he was talking about - how we're so busy looking for the remarkable and the extraordinary that we make the ordinary almost shameful and not good enough when really that's what we should be striving for in order to achieve emotional maturity. Fascinating theory.

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    1. He also did a great podcast on romantic love from the same perspective - where we're always looking for the shiny, poetic, mystical love and missing the pragmatic friendship love that is so much more long lasting and real. I think we get so caught up in the dream that we forget about the reality - and just enjoying the mundane lovely life we've been blessed with. I'm trying to make up for that now!

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    2. I heard that one too - and loved it. To me it was so on the mark.

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    3. Joanne and Leanne, I made a note of Alain de Botton and see whether I can find his podcast. Sounds interesting.

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    4. Erica he is so on the ball with his thinking and research and how he puts it across. Here's the link to the one on love that I watched: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ctz6eJ3Pr94

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  9. Snap, I wrote a similar post a few years ago too! I like the idea of being happy in the way you are living and doing things rather than aspiring to be more. Great to read your thoughts Leanne and just keep doing you!

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    1. Hi Deb - great minds must think alike :) I can see your contentment with your life (excpept for the not being able to visit family part atm!) and I think that is so much the essence of living well and making the most of the years that we've been given.

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    2. Yes great minds do think alike! I'm back and sharing for #mlstl

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  10. Leanne, I have always promoted 'balanced' living on my blog and I live it in real life. I see others who live 'balanced' lives, but with a higher degree of heat under their proverbial burner. I think it is much like that with 'pleasant' too. When we get to a place of authentic joy and contentment, we can label it however we choose and never feel less than. Beautiful post.

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    1. Hi Suzanne - I know people who are doing retirement full speed ahead, and others who are going to work forever because they enjoy the pay off. It just doesn't work that way for me, but I'm happy that they enjoy living like that. They'd be bored with my life, and I'd be overstressed and tired with theirs. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

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  11. I'm not familiar with that person, so I may be misunderstanding his quote but he says a Spectacular life is one where he loves what he's doing each day. It doesn't need to be anything fancy, he just needs to love it. I want what I think you would call a spectacular life but only because I have a fairly insatiable curiosity and I want to see everything and try everything. I am very strong in the desire for awe and wonder (and fun). I'm listening to this book and they asked people what they thought they needed to make them happy. I couldn't think of anything. I took that as a good sign. After thinking about it at length, I'd say to be able to travel again (and this whole COVID thing gone) but that's quite superficial and I think it would bring me great enjoyment but wouldn't add to my level of happiness. (Tho ask me again when the whole economy collapses and we have no income...in September...) Interesting post with food for thought. Sharing on SM.

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    1. "Spectacular" makes me feel tired just thinking about it Lydia - I like how you've moved it a little into a more understandable light - and yes, being happy with all that life gives you is pretty spectacular for a lot of people. I'm just content - I don't need the fireworks or having a lot of things on my to-do list....I'd even be fine if planes never flew again and I just stayed in my little part of the world. My needs and wants seem to be getting smaller every day.

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  12. Leanne, It's a beautiful phase of life when we can design it, give it a name or not, and live it however we choose. Glad you found the right life for you. I'm happy with my lifestyle and grateful for what I have. #MLSTL

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    1. I think that's what pleasantness is Natalie - being content with the life you lead and it doesn't need to be the same for everyone - we each have different ideas of what "pleasant" equates to - for me it's definitely not about chasing the almighty dollar or working myself to death to keep someone's business running - glad those days are behind me.

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  13. My mother talks about herself as being a contented person. She's never wanted much and is happy with her 'lot' in life. I've always been the opposite but as I'm getting older (and probably changing based on things that have or haven't happened), I'm changing the way I think about what it is I want and the direction I want my life to take.

    I don't know if it's because I feel that ambitious stage of life is behind me...

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    1. I think I've finally come to accept my life for what it is Deb and to appreciate that it's a pretty good life. It may not have climbed to the heights I had hoped for in my younger days, but now when I look at things, I'm not sure I'd have wanted to live a high powered 'mover and shaker' life - I don't think I'm cut out for fame, fortune, and living large.

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  14. Hi Leanne, when you describe your pleasant life, "Is it okay with my heart to be a middle aged woman who's not changing the world, but who is changing herself. Someone who is working on being the best version of herself and one who wants to live a life that feels authentic, and real, and settled" you are describing what is YOUR best life. We each get to decide. Your pleasant sounds pretty darn excellent. No striving necessary!

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    1. Hi Michele - you're so right, some people want a lot more out of life than I do. I'm really happy for them, but it exhausts me just thinking about all the stuff some people manage to do to make their life full on and interesting. I think my life is about being low key and cruising through - it's nice to give myself permission to step away from what the social "norm" is and to enjoy living quietely and pleasantly.

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  15. I think with age you desire a more pleasant life. You get tired of the hustle all the time.

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    1. You're so right Fatima - when we're younger we're striving and achieving and pushing ourselves to get as much as possible in life. As Midlife has taken over, I'm happy to let all that go and to just enjoy being in my quiet little space of life.

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  16. Hi Leanne, this really resonated with me because I'm exactly the same - no FOMO or keeping up with the Joneses for me! When I was in my 20s and 30s I was always striving for something - particularly in my career. I studied and worked hard, expecting that it would lead to promotion. That was in the days when experience and education mattered. When the time came to apply for a promotion it went to someone 15 years younger with way less experience than me. My bubble burst, I was upset for a while, but I got over it and now I'm really glad I didn't get that job. I even took a demotion, and am happier now than before. It's perfectly o.k. to be happy with your life and not constantly strive for something else. Thanks for the great post, regards Christina

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    1. Hi Christina - I've missed out on jobs like that too - and when I look back I think it was for my own good. To spend less time on the consumer/corporate hamster wheel, and more time with family and in the peace of my home is such a blessing. Some people need all that (and I totally understand the need) but I'm so glad it doesn't fill my bucket - I'd hate to still be striving and hustling for the next big thing.

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  17. Dear Leanne and Friends, what's best about being older is: realizing you don't have to vex yourself, waste your time chasing after the world's heels. I enjoy a quiet life and look forward to being at home.

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    1. It's just the best time of life. To live on your own terms, not be jumping through someone else's hoops, and just enjoying the serenity. I thought I'd have to wait another ten years to get to this point - being able to experience it now was the penultimate blessing in disguise of leaving my awful job behind.

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  18. Hi Leanne it is a great achievement to be in a place in life when you are happy and contented with what you have. However, I'm the odd one out it seems reading the comments. To me I'm happiest when I am extending myself and enjoying life in my own way. There are people like me who will always be looking for a project because that is my personality. Vive la difference! I say. Being a Women Over 50 today means we can live the life we want - whether that is living a slower pace or motoring along. As long as we are happy with our life that is all that matters. Thanks for co-hosting #MLSTL and keep enjoying life! x

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    1. Hi Sue - that's exactly what my post really hinges on - letting everyone find their own definition of "pleasant". It's not a competition to keep up with each other - for some it's slow and steady and for others it's full steam ahead. I enjoy being inspired by people like yourself who always have more to discover, but I'm finally figuring out that it's okay to enjoy being different and more of a cruiser. Midlife is such a great time for learning to love all the differences isn't it?

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  19. Interesting topic and interesting comments from many. I thought my life was good...but it had many unremarkable spots but good memories and it had some sensational times, as well as sad ones. No day is actually the same now for me. I have learned a lot more about how to live since having restrictions from a cancer diagnosis change what I took for granted. For me, there are no big highs and relatively few big lows but there is life I am leading with some variations for each day that suit me and keep me connected to others. The 'rule' is there is one, is to live the life that helps you feel content and does not negatively impact others in your life. I hope I do this most days. Denyse #mlstl

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    1. Hi Denyse - you're right about living the type of life that brings you contentment. It's different for everyone, but I'm so happy to stop the striving and the disappointments that often accompany pushing too hard. I'll leave that for those who are more able to handle the pace, and I'll just sit back and enjoy my quiet life.

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  20. That sounds like a lovely life, Leanne. I think the key is to live the life that feels right to you. Adventurers need to be out seeking adventures. Introverts need quiet time to recharge. And some people need the pleasant life. When we are living out of sync with who we really are seems to be what causes the discontent. And what we are...what we need...sometimes changes. Right now I'm trying to discover how I want this time in my life to look. I'm kind of in between travel and new adventures and kicking back by the pool with my family and friends. We'll see where I land. Hopefully, I find the right balance with a little of each. #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Christie - you're so right about different strokes for different folks. Also different stages of life call for different amounts of effort. I'm finally reaching a point where it's okay to back off a little and just enjoy whatever takes my fancy - I've never had that before and I'm going to enjoy it (rather than feeling guilty or apologizing for it).

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  21. I like your style, Leanne! I believe it's so important to live a life that pleases, rather than always setting challenges and goals that disrupt as much as inspire. Yes, accept one will not change the world, but one can change oneself, at one's one pace, and in one's own way. The dogs barking thing resonated too. Our neighbours have a dog that likes to bark — a lot — and they are so slow to react to her barking. My home office is just over their back garden, and it can be really annoying. Their house is the other half of our semi-d, so their garden is right beside ours! It's the lack of consideration that is breathtaking. We had to diplomatically address ther issue some months ago when the dog barked for over 20 minutes from about 6am one morning to get out, or whatever, and when we did, the woman of the house took the hump, and has ostentatiously ignored us since! #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Enda - barking dogs and ignorant neighbours usually go hand in hand/paw don't they? Because no considerate person would allow their dog to disrupt the quiet for more than a minute or two - selective deafness (like a lot of things) has become quite normal these days. I just want to live and let live, have pleasant interactions (but not too many of them at once!) and I wonder if the rest of the world got on board with that, if it wouldn't end up being a much nicer place to live in?

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