The Ideal Life: Reflections on New Year’s Eve, 2014

Jenny Fields: You know, everybody dies. My parents died. Your father died. Everybody dies. I’m going to die too, Garp. So will you. The thing is, to have a life before we die. It can be a real adventure having a life. The World According to Garp, by John Irvine.

New Year’s is a time when we set new goals for ourselves. We consider the gains and losses of our past year and think of ways we can improve our lives for the better. Some of us may want to get emotionally closer to family and friends, while others of us may wish for more distance. We may want to lose weight or get physically fit this coming year. Some of us are hoping to find true love or make official the one that we already have.

There’s always something we are hoping for to make our lives better. More money, friends, or a better job or home may be all it takes to make this coming year a good one. As long as we are alive, there will be something we need or want that, if we had, would round out what we feel is missing in our lives.

The great personality theorist, Alfred Adler believed that our main reason to exist is to actualize an ideal version of a uniquely meaningful and fulfilling life. We are forever imagining ourselves in a process of becoming this or that and carrying out goals that further our lives along these lines. The New Year celebration is just an official time for doing what we do all year long—examining the ways in which we are expressing ourselves and reaching our goals.

As author John Irvine appreciated so well, our lives, as created by us, is forged by our vision and efforts (The World According to Garp, John Irvine). Each of us has the right to create our lives according to our own beliefs and vision. Also, to fulfill the goals that helps us to realize this life. We are in a never-ending process of creating and adjusting our version of the good life, according to us, as we keep maturing and changing.

But, some people do not adjust their ideals and beliefs to fit with their learning and growth. True, some of these people have not matured, so that their frame of reference stays the same. But, there are many people who have learned, matured, and are leading successful lives, but some of their ideas about the makings of an ideal existence have not grown along with them.

Take for example, Molly, a 49-year-old, never married, successful businesswoman. Several years ago, she reconnected with a boyfriend from her youth. They began a dating relationship that resulted in their living together. Although, she was still attracted to him and enjoyed his intellect, humor, and loving ways, she refused his proposal to marry him.

He wasn’t as financially successful as she was, had a low sex drive, and, if she wished to retire, he could not financially take care of her, in the style of which she was accustomed. At least, this is what Molly told herself.

Certainly, Molly had the right to reflect upon aspects of the relationship that troubled her. But, these issues paled in respect to how much joy and balance he brought to her life. They gardened together, fixed up their home, took cooking classes, got a pet, and regularly had friends over for dinner. They really liked each other and enjoyed nothing more than spending time together.

Still, in Molly’s mind, the relationship problems dwarfed its benefits. Making matters worse, Molly regularly discussed her mate’s “flaws” with her women friends. She was so convincing as to her despair that every discussion ended in them telling her to break up with him.

Over several therapy sessions, Molly went back and forth on the pros and cons of this relationship and getting nowhere with it. One day, as I was listening to her, her physical appearance moved so strongly into the foreground of my awareness, as if I had suddenly seen where a piece to a large puzzle fit. I was looking upon a very attractive, lively, and intelligent middle-aged woman who was discussing the ideals of romantic love, as if she were twenty years old, once again. The source of Molly’s inability to decide one way or another became crystal clear to me.

She was harboring ideas about romantic love, and the makings of a good life, that she had constructed in her youth. I said to her, “You are thinking about this relationship, like you were twenty again. You know, like the great knight is going to sweep you off your feet and rescue you. But, he is not the young man you once knew. He’s a handsome older man now who doesn’t earn as much as you and is not the sexual athlete you recalled from your youth. He’s no longer a great knight in shining armor. He is just a man; a man who seems to make you very happy and your life balanced and full.”

She got it! My patient was relying on youthful ideas of the past to consider the makings of an ideal life today. She had changed and matured in many ways. But, because work always took precedence over relationship, she was still twenty years old in her mind, when it came to thinking about romantic love. But, now, she was a middle-aged woman. She didn’t have to rely on outworn ideas to tell her if something  was right or wrong for her. She was free to design a relationship according to the needs and desires of a 49-year-old woman, rather than a 20-year old girl.

Molly did exactly this. She was ready now to be more than just a successful business woman. She wanted her life story to include a loving, meaningful relationship with a romantic partner. Molly married him. Recently, they celebrated their ten-year wedding anniversary and are very happy.

While you are setting new goals for the coming year, take time to consider the ways in which they reflect your learning and growth. As we keep maturing in life, our goals increasingly express our development as psychological beings.

How do your New Year’s goals reflect where you have come so far, how much psychological growth you’ve attained, and ways in which you can keep your vision of life moving forward? Above all else, be conscious of what you are choosing so that when there’s no more time left to choose you, you have no regrets.

Happy New Year, my friends. I thank each of you for your warm friendship and support and for joining me on this wonderful journey called life.

I hope you liked today’s post. If you did, please let me know by selecting the Like icon that immediately follows. You can also Tweet or Google+1 today’s post to share it with your friends. Love, Deborah.


10 Responses to “The Ideal Life: Reflections on New Year’s Eve, 2014”

  1. avatar Bariq says:

    Happy new year .its very impotant to get wish in life before start it we will make a plan to achive in the future .its usefule to make better goals in our life.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Bariq, you are so right–it is most definitely to make better goals for ourselves–better in the sense that really express our true natures. Thank you for reading today’s post and for saying hello. Warmly Deborah.

  2. avatar Muhammad Idrees says:

    I am Muhammad Idrees

  3. avatar suman saha says:

    About who? Sorry. Good.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      No Need to be sorry. Most of us don’t ever completely reach our ideal of the ideal life. There are many things outside of us that get in the way. But, we must try to move toward our goals in whatever way we can to get to realize some of what we envision for ourselves inside.

      I’m not sure Suman if your comment for who was suggesting that the ideal life is not meant for some of us. It is always meant for each of us but you are right that that fact does not mean each of us are able to reach it. Life indeed is stressful and can be hard. But, as I said, hopefully, we strive to realize some of our vision. Thank you Suman. Warmly Deborah.

  4. avatar Manju says:

    Dear Dr. Khoshaba,

    What a sweet story. I am glad it had a happy ending. Part of the story reminded me of idea of perceiving the glass half empty rather than the glass half full. Focusing on negative aspects sometimes distorts our views of our reality.

    Thank you for another thoughtful post.

    Happy New Year, my dear friend.


    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello dear Manju, as you can imagine, I was so happy the ending was happy for both of them. Oh, I like what you say. You are right. She did need to see how together they filled the cup! Love your thoughts. And, Happy New Year to you, my dear friend. Warmly Deborah.

  5. avatar anum says:

    Thankyou for the inspiring article. In your experience, do you think romantic love does not exist?

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      You are very welcome Anum. I appreciate you taking the time to comment today. Actually, I do think romantic love exists but that the romantic stage must progress to a deep stage of loving in which have learned to love each other for who we really are rather than who we wished for in our ideals. I am speaking here about romantic love as the first stage of a love relationship. It’s wonderful and everyone has to have this first stage to move forward to the next. But, some people are disappointed to find over time that there romantic lover is not completely who they wished for and leave the relationship way too soon. Thank you for an excellent question. Warmly Deborah.


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