A view from my side.
I stole this photo from a friend’s Facebook post. It kinda sums up my outlook on life. Since I don’t believe in reincarnation, I have this one life to live. I have just a few years to spend here and overall, it’s not all that long a ride…only75 or so years. I’ve spent 52 of them enjoying my life and I plan to spend the rest of them in pursuit of happiness. It is, as Jefferson put it, an inalienable right. As the quote in the photo might be difficult to see, here it is:
When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life. – John Lennon
A recent post of mine, “Bike It“, talked about how I see that attitude played out in my youngest son. I refuse to waste my time, and therefore my life, in things that do not make me happy. That’s not to say that I’m not willing to work hard or endure hardship, etc. I am more than willing to do that in pursuit of happiness. But when things start to weigh me down and when the struggle to keep something alive begins to outweigh the potential for happiness, it is time to cut it lose and move on.
For example…life is too short to spend it working some place where I am not happy. I spend more than a third of my time at work. If I’m not happy at work, then I am spending over a third of my daily life doing something that makes me unhappy. It would effect not only myself, but my co-workers and my employer. It could be infectious and it could be contribute to the unhappiness of others as well as reflect badly on my employer. That could lead to other negative results such as a bad evaluation, or a negative “recommendation” when I do finally decide to work elsewhere. No, when work becomes a struggle for me, when my job begins to make me unhappy with no sight of happiness on the horizon, it is time to find another place to work. Currently, my job makes me happy and I am looking forward to some new and exciting opportunities at work. That being the case, I choose to stay on and my employer has seen fit to keep me. A win-win for us both.
I have worked for some very good people over the years. A Superintendent of Schools I once worked for always asked the question “how is what we do in the front office making it easier for teachers in the classroom to teach their students.” He understood that his job was to support the teachers. And he made sure those of us that worked in his office understood that that was *our* job as well. I loved working for him and working in his district. The Superintendent that replaced him was not made of the same “stuff”, however, and I found working for him distasteful. After giving it some time to work itself out, I decided it would be better for me and the district if I moved on. I did and everyone was better off for it.
The same holds true in relationships. Of course, I’ve a disastrous record on that front, hence the title of this blog, but the principle still holds. As long as I’m happy, or can see a place in the future where I will be with effort, I will stay in the relationship. If I see nothing but unhappiness and grief down the road, it is time to get out or at least, change the relationship to one where happiness is possible. Ex#1 I haven’t seen since 1982. She and I caught up recently on Facebook and we are both happy with our lives. Ex#2 and Ex#3 I deal with on almost a daily basis. Largely due to Kids#1-4, true. But, we changed the relationship to one where we could all be happy (or happier than we were) and things have worked out.
Getting back to the quote though…I truly believe that many people simply do not know how to be happy. I feel sad for them. And I truly believe it is because they “do not understand life.”