“Upon a time, -unhappy was the clock that struck the hour!” ~William Shakespeare (Cymbeline, V, v)

It took me until the age of 42 to finally make a conscious decision to stop being so dang miserable all the time.  To quit my miserable job, to stop hanging out with miserable people whenever possible, and change course to do things that actually interest me and speak to me in terms of meaning and significance.

Have you ever met someone who just seemed inherently and generally a happy person by nature, practically all the time?  Nothing ever seems to get to them, they’re overly optimistic about everything in their lives, everything seemed to go their way, and they were always smiling no matter what?  I’ve known a few here and there.  I was always kind of annoyed by them, to tell the truth.  They seemed unreal, like a character in an X-Files episode.


Lately though the opposite has been true for me: I find myself even more annoyed by those that are miserable and grumpy and cantankerous all the time, especially those that are doing nothing to change the situation that is contributing to their negative state of mind.  Assuming they are not all suffering from low blood sugar at the same time, there’s a lot of the dejected and downtrodden out there these days.

So I’ve been thinking: is the state of happy one that happens by nature, or by nurture?  Is one born generally happy (or unhappy), or does one have to constantly nurture the factors of their life to bring forth opportunities to experience a positive state of mind?  And if it’s the latter, isn’t that then saying that life is inherently negative and unhappy, and that we then have to swim upstream and make conscious choices to not let it all get to us and to try to be happy and move forward in spite of everything that is happening to us?

OR – is everything that is happening to us, especially the negative, the daily grind of life that brings us down, brought about by our own decisions (be they conscious or unconscious) over time to either do or not do something about the state in which we find ourselves?

Yes I’m getting philosophical.  No I don’t know the answer.  I do know that I haven’t run across very many happy people in most of the jobs I’ve worked in.  Which is really unfortunate, because we spend the majority of our waking hours at our jobs.  When we are miserable there, it tends to have a cumulative effect over time…on ourselves, on our friends and families, and on the other people we work with.  There have been many times when I’ve looked at a coworker (or at myself in the mirror) and wished I could say out loud: “If you hate this job so much, why don’t you quit and do something else?”

Yes yes I know that most people do not have the luxury of choosing their idea of the “perfect” job to pay their bills and occupy their time.  It’s apparent and common, but very sad and unfortunate, that most of us are not living to work, but working to live.  For those lucky few of you out there who get to do what you want and enjoy while also earning enough money at it to live comfortably: I’m convinced you’ve hit the real lottery, even if you don’t realize it.

I just received my first paycheck at my other job – the one I’m actually really enjoying, the first job in practically forever that I actually look forward to on the days I go in.  My paycheck for an entire month’s work (it’s a part-time job) is a mere 60% of what I used to earn every two weeks at my previous miserable city government job.  So over the course of a month, I’ll be earning only about 30% of what I used to.  And of course that’s with no benefits.

And yet despite the belt tightening on my bank account, and in spite of the recent ups and downs of my recent forays,  I’d estimate I’m about one thousand percent happier and more satisfied than I was at this time a year ago.  Would that my satisfaction level could magically pay my utility and insurance bills, and all’s well that would end well.  I’m fighting going into debt with every responsible fiber of my being, but as this amusing (and eerily accurate) articleGeneration X Gets Really Old: How Do Slackers Have a Midlife Crisis?says, “maybe midlife is about figuring out how to accept the limitations.”

Or maybe it’s just about staying afloat the best way we know how, while swimming through and then past all the fish poop in the water. 

Now where did I put my water wings and nose plug…


À la prochaine!

Ant Kristi