In Japan, deferring your happiness in order to work hard is a common choice, but seniors show that it can backfire.
A lot of Japan’s social attitudes can be summed up as “Work now, play later.” If you’re following the archetypal life track in Japan, you basically get two roughly four-year periods growing up when it’s OK to make “fun” your major priority: before you start pre-school, and during college.
Outside of those two patches of sunshine, Japanese society puts a lot of pressure on people to excel academically or professionally. But if you can make it through all that, at least you can focus on enjoying yourself once you get old enough to retire, right?
Actually, even that’s not a guarantee, and staking so much of your cumulative lifetime happiness on having complete freedom in your later years may not always be the best plan, as highlighted in this story from Japanese Twitter user @ONELIFE_PRO.
昔、旅行中たまたま横に座った老夫婦と話していて… 「学生の時はお金が無くて、やりたい事は社会人なったらやろうと思った。 社会人になったらお金はあったけど時間が無くて定年後にやろうと思った。 そして今は時間はあるけど身体が動かない。 君は全部今やれ。」 深すぎるお言葉でした。—
迎@ROCK/JOINT企画してる人 (@ONELIFE_PRO) July 17, 2017
“A long time ago, while I was taking a trip, I struck up a conversation with an elderly couple that was sitting next to me.”
“’When we were students, we didn’t have much money, so we thought we’d do what we really wanted to once we became working adults,’ they said. ‘Then, when we were working adults, we had money, but no time, so we figured we’d do what we wanted to after we retired. And now, we’ve got time, but our bodies are old and we can’t get around very well. So do everything you want to do now.’”
“Their words left a deep impression on me.”
With over 100,000 retweets, the story has left a deep impression on Japanese Twitter users as well. But while many are applauding its reaffirmation that it’s not just OK, but imperative to do things that will make you happy in the here and now, some have pointed out that, as the elderly husband and wife themselves demonstrated, there are usually a variety of limiting factors that we have to contend with in our lives, and even if we can eliminate one, often another springs up to take its place.
As such, some commenters felt that while the couple’s sentiment is sound, their advice could use a little fine-tuning.
@ONELIFE_PRO こう言ってはアレですが、全部やる事は不可能でしょう 老夫婦の方がおっしゃった通り、やりたいことがあっても資金、時間、体力などは無限ではないですからね 大事な事は、一番やりたい事を明確にして、有限な「資産」を有効に扱う事なのだと思います—
24歳、学生です (@TDN_810_114514) July 17, 2017
“It might sound harsh to say this, but it’s impossible to do everything you want to. Exactly as the couple said, even if there’s something you want to do, your supply of money, time, and energy isn’t limitless. So I’d say what’s important is to find what you want to do most of all, and use the resources you have so that you can do that.”
Even when they’ve found a desire, though some people still need a little help.
ニャル子VAPE垢 (@barasachi) July 17, 2017
“When my little brother was graduating from college, he told me he couldn’t afford to go on a graduation trip. ‘Right now is the only time you can take one, so go!’ I told him as I loaned him the money he needed. Listening to him talk about the trip, it sounds like he made some great memories, and later he paid me back, showing perfect responsibility. In life, it’s rare to have everything you need line up just at the right time to do what you want to do.”
Sounds a lot like this guy, proving that sometimes the best thing to do with your life resources is transfer them to someone you love.