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I Could Die a Happy Man

There are events in your life that you think, “Boy, it just couldn’t get any better than this. If I died tonight, I’d die a happy man.” I had one of those events not too long ago at our annual Oktoberfest party. It is a full-on German Oktoberfest with the right food and the right beer and the right music. Shelia and I had finally bought the right German outfits, a Dirndl and Lederhosen and were all dressed up for the occasion. We also bought a Dirndl for our granddaughter who was 8 and Ledherhosen for our grandson who was 2.

So there we all were in our right German outfits looking grand and feeling it too. And then it got even better; the band launched into the Chicken Dance. And there was my granddaughter, up for the challenge. I can’t express how joyful it was to dance the Chicken Dance with my granddaughter. We had a blast. I think the joy in her eyes may have only been matched by the joy in mine. I knew, at that moment, I could die a happy man.

Another occasion came during our attorney training in November. Four times a year we gather all our attorneys for in-depth training on trial technique, substantive issues in Family Law and personal development. There are also plenty of opportunities for bonding. Working with the attorneys in November in St. Croix as they deepened their practice skills brought home again just how committed these excellent litigators are to their craft and to our clients. Watching the joy in their eyes as they tackled the challenges in the training reminded me of just how important and meaningful and satisfying our work is to me and to them. I knew, in the company of such gifted people, I could die a happy man.

Perhaps the trick is to create a life such that it repeatedly provides experiences that render this ebullient sentiment. Perhaps the trick is to organize a life so that it is intentionally positive, meaningful and fulfilling. Perhaps the trick is to identify what doesn’t provide such a satisfying experience, that which brings you down, and getting rid of it, not doing it anymore. Life is too short to live it sadly, unsatisfied and disappointed. Perhaps the trick is to manage and direct life so that most experiences leave you fulfilled and satisfied and gratified. That certainly sounds a lot more fun.

Today was a good example. As mid-day of Christmas shopping came, it became time for lunch. I was up on the Marietta Square so my food opportunities were enviable. I would have been hard pressed to make a bad decision. I chose to sit down to an impeccable plate of roasted oysters paired with a fine glass of bourbon on ice. It was swell. As I savored every morsel I thought, “I could die a happy man.”

Perhaps that is what intentional living is all about, making decisions that bring you up rather than bring you down.

I’m all for that. I’m all for structuring life to be fulfilling, not suffering. What’s the point of that? I’m all for living so well that, at pretty much any given moment you could say, “I could die a happy man.”

So, Merry Christmas, everybody! May you create the opportunities to enjoy a fulfilling Christmas and a fulfilling life. May you die a happy man.

-Michael Manely