People are funny. Everybody seems to think I feel ecstatically happy to be retired from my software engineering job. I’m happy in my mind… But feelings are different. There’s a bit of a feeling of letdown, of an emptiness left behind by something big that is not in my life any more.
Fortunately for me, I’ve experienced this feeling many times before at “happy times” – transition points that are times of celebration — for example graduations and finishing major projects and shipping software products. The big thing achieved leaves a hole behind that takes a little time and adjustment to fill up with other things. So I know it is the natural way for me to feel. Tal Ben Shahar, the noted professor who teaches the positive psychology class at Harvard, talks about owning all our feelings, not just the “good” ones. They are part of us. It is what we do with the feelings that makes the long-term difference — how we interpret them, what actions they make us take.
I really like the way Tal Ben Shahar talks about happiness in terms of Happier — the title of his new book. If you’d like to hear him, you can listen to his June 19 interview on the Diane Rehm show.
My gap isn’t staying empty long. My mother has asked me to fly across the country to nurse her through surgery. Also, I have many things to do for my business. So on to the next challenges in my life.