Work and Happiness
If you were to ask the question, “What do you really want out of life,” most people would answer, “Happiness.”
Unfortunately, “happiness” is a bit like love. It can’t be bought. It can be argued that true love can be bought in a pet shop. It comes inbuilt with the puppy or kitten you purchase. But happiness cannot be bought at all. You see, it is a by-product.
Yet it is so important to us.
We need to have a worthwhile Ideal
What is this thing we long for but cannot define? How does it fit in with our attitudes towards our work, our career? We feel it does have something to do with success. But before we can venture further, it might be in our interests to define what success is. And the best definition I’ve heard to date is that “Happiness is the progressive realization of a worthwhile ideal.” I guess the author meant: Happiness results from or out of the progressive realization of such.
All right so how does this relate to work? We talking happiness and work here, aren’t we?
We are. But let’s get back to our ideal.
So we have to have within us what we regard as a worthwhile ideal.
Fortunately, we have many: being a good husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, friend; undertaking successfully a personal project such as painting the kitchen, planting a tree, or obtaining a desired job; or doing something we consider really worthwhile for our group, our club, our community, city or nation. These last get progressively difficult as our dreams expand in grandeur.
On the larger scale, our dreams can be fraught with frustration. And rightly so. For what we deem to be worthwhile might not be worthwhile at all. ‘ The road to hell is paved with good intentions,’ goes the saying.
But there is one area easily accessible to most of us that is both worthwhile and can bring that elusive phenomenon known as happiness. And that is providing good service. By giving of our best, cheerfully, willingly- and remaining unattached to the outcome. We can do this most easily through our work; our gainful employment.
Remaining unattached to the outcome is important. If we purposely seek reward for our good deed or good service then the chances are that feelings of happiness will be ameliorated by our thoughts of reward – and our increasing bitterness when our efforts are overlooked, or criticized.
But if we work cheerfully, conscientiously, to the best of our capacity at the time, free of self-criticism (and perhaps ignore the criticism of others) then all sorts of things start to happen. We get better at our work. We like it more. We get lost in our occupation and the time flies. And we are not only obtaining success but also find, when we look back on the minutes or hours spent, that we were happy after all. So work can be a tool to happiness. It’s certainly worth giving it a try…don’t you think?
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