It’s kind of a bad joke that after mulling over thoughts off and on for a couple of weeks I took two days to write one post and mysteriously “lost” it. And no it’s not even in the trash. I looked. The topic of that post? Perseverance.
Perseverance. Stick-to-itiviness. Steadfastness. In this age of instant everything it seems like this characteristics is silently slipping away, mostly unnoticed. We buy a piece of exercise equipment but after using it for two weeks faithfully and two months sporadically with no change in our physique we give up and send it back. We are looking for a couple of nurses or medical assistants at my job. I was surprised to see the long list of jobs most people had on their resumes. To find someone who had stayed at a job longer than a year has taken some time. Currently I can name 3 marriages on the verge of breaking up. One of them has been married 20 years, the other two only 1-1/2 to 2 years.
Is there a common denominator in this trend? I think so. My opinion is that we want “instant gratification” or happiness. There is nothing wrong with being happy. However I do see two major problems with trying to live with the goal of being happy.
#1. We think circumstances or other people make us happy.
#2 We want to be happy ALL the time.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines happy as “1. Characterized by luck or good fortune; prosperous. 2. Having or demonstrating pleasure or satisfaction; gratified.” Vines Complete Expository Dictionary (of the Bible) tells us that the word happy is actually tied to the word blessed. Blessed in the context of happy means “(d) to cause to prosper, to make happy, to bestow blessings on….” Guess what that means? We’re right (sort of ). Circumstances or other people can make us happy. That creates a problem. We want to be happy but we are not in total control of our happiness. I’m happy if the day I have a picnic planned the sun is shining and it’s warm. I”m not happy if it turns out to be windy and rainy that day. I can’t control the weather. I’m happy if my husband shows up for supper on time and tells me it’s great. I”m not in control of his work schedule and his ability to be home “on time” or his opinion of the food I fixed. While it might work some days and on those days I’m happy, other days it may not. While trying a new recipe for supper might be fun for me, he may not like it. That’s a risk I take.
That is a risk I take. Me. Myself. I choose to try something new. There is no problem there as long as I realize I choose to do this. My husband or my family did not. They may or may not like my choice. If I’m depending on them to like it to make me happy I’m in trouble. You can’t make other people like, or do, or be, anything. You can only be in charge of your own choices. All of this proves that #2 wanting to be happy all the time is not going to happen. Circumstances and people are out of our control at times. (period) There is nothing we can do about that.
That said, what I’m observing is that generally speaking in today’s society when we find ourselves unhappy we bail out. We go for a different exercise plan, diet, job or spouse. We think if this one didn’t make me happy, the next one will. That is just not the truth. You know the old saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” Generally speaking that’s a true statement. Sadly we compare ourselves to those around us and think they’ve got something better going on. That house down the street looks a little better or that job has better hours. So what can we do to be more “happy”?
We can persevere. It’s our attitude that needs a check. Happiness really is a decision. A decision that only I can make for myself. When my husband and I got married we made a commitment for life. We marked out the word divorce in our dictionary. It is not an option for us. (If you’ve read any of my other posts on marriage you know that I realize there are times when divorce is necessary.) We’ve had some not fun seasons, everyone does, but we have stuck together. Today our relationship is stronger and more gratifying than it has ever been. I wouldn’t have experienced that if I had bailed out years ago. I’ve worked for the same medical group for the past 7 years. For the past 2-1/2 in particular we have been short-staffed more than we haven’t. However, because I’ve hung in there I now have a little input on how things get done and have been given a bit of flexibility in my schedule. I earned that through not giving up and griping my way out the door. I can’t even imagine my life without being able to play piano, but I considered giving up every time I bombed at solo contest.
What about you? Can you think of something that has given you happiness or made your life better because you stuck with it even though it was hard or not fun? I’d love for you to tell us what that was.