Like a Lion

July 10, 2009

A friend just told me she wants to be like a lion. She’d been reading blogs about happiness, which is apparently also a theme recently on this blog. I’m in my mid 30s, so I figure I now have some of the wisdom of experience, but also enough time left to shape a future for myself based on that wisdom. I’m into happiness.

In recent conversations amongst friends, the common concern I’ve been hearing, expressed in various ways, has to do with finding, or making, time to pursue all the exciting opportunities out there, encourage self-growth, nurture friendships and family bonds, and do it all in a relaxed, enjoyable way? Basically, figuring out an equation for a happy life.

On some level, it comes down to breadth vs. depth. I have always been attracted to breadth. I love what I do professionally, creating and supporting public humanities programs throughout Wisconsin, because I get a broad scope of the state and am always learning new things. But, I watching Andy Roddick last weekend, I do wonder where I’d be right now if I’d spent forty hours a week hitting a tennis ball to perfection…

My grandmother was a big influence on me growing up. She often told me that she had never been bored a minute of her life. She attributed this gift to her endless curiosity and the richness of life. Her balanced formula for happiness included daily naps, regular card games with friends, and complete confidence in her god and her self.

Like a lion in the sun. Photo by the author.

Like a lion in the sun. Photo by the author.

When my friend said she wanted to be like a lion, she was aiming toward a level of relaxed confidence. Lions are so inherently confident of their place in the world, and of their capacity to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done, they are comfortable relaxing in the shade plenty of the time. Unlike smaller, less self-confident creatures who are chasing their tales, lions are not afraid of missing the action. They seem to know what they are here to do and they do it well.

At the Wisconsin Humanities Council, we’ve been giving some thought to what it is we do well (oh, the joys of strategic planning!) and what each of us at the Council enjoys about our work. In my hours away from the office, I have also been thinking strategically in order to find more time to lie in the shade. Or the sun, depending on the day. They both make me happy.

By Jessica Becker, Director of Public Programs at the Wisconsin Humanities Council.