I just finished watching the amazing documentary on Roger Ebert called "Life Itself". I went into it uncomfortable at his appearance in his last stages of death, he was frail and there was literally just a hanging piece of skin where his lower jaw used to be. But towards the end he said something that resonated with me as he discussed the way in which doing work was the only way to distract himself from his dying. He said "...you get in a zone that you can only get into from doing something you're good at".
I was overtaken by this intense feeling of how short life really is. I'm 31 years old, which is more than HALF the life span of my father who died at 60 and the second half moves SO MUCH FASTER. Then I started to call back in my mind the old cliche "life is short, have fun" and it started to make sense. I came to the conclusion that you're given a few things based on genetics, circumstance, luck, that you are good at and also happen to resonate with the world in a positive way. So I thought: "why not just focus on doing those things for as long and as often as you possibly can?"
I feel like I spend so much time trying to be more than I am. Have what someone else has, not just focus on what I enjoy and am good at. Instead of trying to distill and simplify. Roger Ebert tried his hand at many different things before realizing that rating films was his "thing", so he decided to dedicate his life to doing it better than anyone and he basically created the title of "film critic". It's a specific skill, it worked for him, and he seemed happy. It felt good to be good.
This is the same underlying theory behind why selflessly helping someone else makes us feel so good. They need us and we have a unique advantage that can provide a positive effect for them, we're good at helping and it feels good to be good at something. Giving to a charity, helping someone carry a suitcase, even just making a meal for friends. Maybe it sounds selfish to do good because it gives you some "high", but it's the truth; it's almost the same feeling as being really good at dunking a basketball or telling a joke or writing a great blog post or making a great meal. There is something that makes us physiologically feel better when we accomplish something that meets its goal. And simplifying your life to the pursuit of those few things, will never fail.
Or maybe its late and I just saw a great movie.