Friday, June 20, 2014

Achieving true happiness

Do you consider yourself to basically be a happy person or do you feel that there is a giant invisible hand holding you back where you cannot truly enjoy life? In the deep recesses of your mind, do you believe that winning the lotto, hiking the Rockies, or getting that dream all expense paid vacation will unlock the shackles that deprive you of inner peace? You are not alone, I assure you, but sadly, none of these illusive desires will give you what you want for more than a few days.  
The money will be spent, the hike will conclude, and the voyage on the seas will come to an end and you will find yourself back at work and in the doldrums. Then the old problems will resurface and once again you will wish for relief.
I have a good friend who in a very frustrated state and on a daily basis will explain to me why he is no longer happy at work. “It’s not the job, it’s” – and he has a long list of complaints. “I won’t ever be happy here,” he angrily vocalizes and I sit and listen and know in y heart he is sadly lacking a revelation that I can’t give him.’
He will have to see it for himself.  He needs an epiphany, an awakening of sorts and other than the possibility of a divine intervention, it is up to him.
He truly believes he will get a job somewhere that the current issues simply do not exist. I try to explain to him that he is living a fantasy, because the identical issues that bug him here are at every job site, everywhere, but he is so caught up in believing that his happiness is dependent on finding another place to work, that my words fall on deaf ears.
Now mind you, when I talk about our workplace, I am not talking about a hostile environment and if that describes where you work, then maybe in your case, leaving is a good option – but not here. Here happens to be a good work atmosphere for the most part. I know. I’ve toiled at this place of employment a long time. People are people and people have a myriad of personalities. There is no getting around that unless you work completely solo and those jobs are rare, so managing your interaction with those around you is essential to peace on the job, but honestly, has little to do with your personal happiness.
Our personal happiness is almost one hundred percent our responsibility and in our control. Whether you are a believer of the Christian Bible or not, no one could argue with the Apostle Paul’s statement found in Philippians 4:11 and I paraphrase, that I learned to be happy, no matter the circumstances.
Inner peace can be achieved regardless of who bugs you at work and is our responsibility to develop and nurture. We simply cannot depend on circumstances, or the lack thereof or the people around us to dictate our state of mind and the sooner we take command of our own well being, the sooner we can achieve what appears to be elusive to so many.
My Dad was a hard-working family provider.  He was always at work.  He was not a particularly gregarious man and had a very low tolerance for what he termed “idiots”.  He spent many years in industry as a tool and die maker and in his later years told me he hated every minute of it.  This surprised me very much as I do not recall hearing him complain about work.  His real pleasure was to go off fishing in his boat and be gone for hours.  As he aged, the trips grew more frequent and the largest percentage of the time, he went by himself.
One day I asked him why he went alone and he told me, “I enjoy my own company.”  His simple answer has never left me and over the years I have developed the same sentiment with one exception.  When I can, I want my bride with me.  If she can’t go, or has other plans, I simply happily go by myself.
Working in the chemical industry for almost 40 years I have thousands and thousands of hours in my wake of being someplace I’d rather not have been, but do I hate it; am I unhappy; or have I numbly became hardened to the task?  Has all of this work made me an unhappy person?
The answer is no; I am not unhappy and for the most part, I am not only content, but enjoy myself a great deal of the time, even at work.  Seeing I have to be there, I simply make the best of it.  You see, I learned a long time ago that no one can dictate whether I am happy or not – only me.  So, I simply choose to be happy and content and enjoy my own company.


Anonymous said...

What a great article in the Baytown Sun today! I totally agree with everything you wrote! AKT

Anonymous said...


Like you, I worked for 40 years for Enjay, Humble, Exxon and ExxonMobil. I can truly say, that I had a blessed and joyous career. I was allowed the privilege of working on various job assignments. Some were more enjoyable than others, but I looked forward to going to work everyday whether it was at the facilities in Baytown or Houston or traveling on behalf of the company.

I say all of this because I don't believe it was my abilities that gave me these opportunities, but God blessed me with them in order that I might grow into the man He wanted me to be.

I have worn a bracelet for over 10 years with Philippians 4:13 on it. People often ask what the bracelet says and I quote this verse of scripture but point out to them that Paul was talking to the church members at Philippi about his current stature. Starting in Verse 10, Paul explains that he has seen times of plenty as well as times of dispair. However, Paul had come to realize that his faith in God to provide all of his needs was sufficient.

If you ask me how I am doing today, I will tell you that I don't have bad days but some days are better than others. I realize how blessed that the companies mentioned about thought enough of me to offer me a job. It was my duty to find happiness in whatever the company asked me to do.

God Bless you and I hope you continue to provide columns as mentioned above.

Elton E. Forbus
Retired: September 30, 2001

Anonymous said...

No scripture reference? Doesn't matter, I suppose that certain verses can be twisted and perverted to suit most peoples delusional state. A wise man taught me years ago that you can't properly discern scripture without the Spirit. SJ

Anonymous said...

Good column, Bert. Reminded me of what Abe Lincoln said on the subject – that everyone makes a choice about whether or not to be happy. It’s our call. WO

Anonymous said...

Great read. 4:11 is one of my favorites. I find happiness is found in the equilibrium between selfishness and selflessness; for me, time alone and time serving others. JE

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I read this. If you base your happiness on external sources they are subject to change at anytime. If you can be happy if, when, and by yourself, you'll have an endless source of joy and good company too! SW

Laurie Buchanan said...

Bert - I come by way of our shared friend, Sandi W., and I'm glad I did.

I resonate with what you said:

"... no one can dictate whether I am happy or not – only me. So, I simply choose to be happy and content and enjoy my own company."


Anna Singleton said...

I love this blog. I am one of the few people I know that finds, if not exact joy, true pleasure in a task completed. Be it any field of work I find myself in. I love spending time alone at home. Be it house cleaning, gardening, or just reading a good book. Some do not understand or get it. My answer to this alone time I enjoy is, you have to like yourself and be at peace with yourself. If those two do not fall together it can be a hard life.

It can only happen while shopping!

As the big man is my witness, every word of this is unquestionable and void of hyperbolic incredibility. With that taken into consid...