Author’s note: Though I originally wrote this piece seven years ago, I still firmly agree with its message. I’m re-posting it in hopes that someone (perhaps you?) may find it encouraging. Enjoy!
Recently, in an email, a friend told me the wisest thing I think I’ve heard in a long time. This is what she said:
“I always feel so deflated. Like, I think if I get a job I will be happier. So I work on that really hard for six months and I DO get a job, then I can’t figure out why that was supposed to make me happy. Point being, there is no ‘future happiness.’ Perhaps happiness is not a conditional statement, but rather a state of being. My humble goal is to avoid using ‘if…then’ thinking in regards to happiness…”
Reading this brought me back to my own job search. A recent college graduate, I was eager to move back to my hometown of Pittsburgh and start my quest for the perfect job. I was certain it wouldn’t take any longer than a month to find a place that would pay me a decent salary, insure my health, and offer me valuable work experience. But with each passing week, I started to realize that my goals were a little lofty. Not only did depression hit, but the only thing on my mind was all the crap in my life that would suddenly fall into place if I could only find a job.
If I only had a job, I wouldn’t be bored all the time…
If I only had a job, I wouldn’t feel like such a failure…
If I only had a job, I could afford to move out of my parents’ house…
Well, I eventually did find a job and started to see the light. I mean, within the first few weeks of starting my new job, I was glowing. I was like a sponge, trying to soak in all the knowledge I could. But after, let’s say, the fourth or fifth month, the glow started to wear off. I started to see the danger in confusing my newfound job as the answer to all my problems.
Now that I am employed, I don’t sit at home bored. Generally, my job keeps me busy, but from time to time, I do find sitting in a cubicle to be quite boring. In a similar fashion, since starting my job, I don’t constantly feel like a failure. But there are days when everything goes wrong and I certainly don’t go home feeling like a winner.
And yes, as a working woman, I have been able to move out of my parents’ house. But I never anticipated the other bills I’d run into as well. It seems that starting my career has opened a whole new can of worms in my life. Being gainfully employed has not been the sole provider of my happiness.
Life is falling into place, but not because I have found a job. Life is falling into place because that is the nature of life. No matter how difficult it gets, life goes on and eventually falls into place. Finding your first job will make you happy for a little while, but eventually that initial happiness will wear off. Events such as this simply were not meant sustain our day-to-day happiness.
But perhaps this is a great thing. Because maybe this means that happiness doesn’t have to depend upon the volatility of life. Maybe each day is up to us to find happiness in small things. And maybe, just maybe, nothing can steal our happiness for any longer than we let it.
Seven years later and here’s what I’ve learned:
I’m a much better writer these days. Also, on a more related note…
I find happiness when I choose it.
Fortunately, each day provides me with an opportunity to do just that.
Every single day, including today.
So although it’s not always easy, I know what I’m going to choose.
How about you?