You know that feeling you get sometimes; that develops into a smile on your face for no specific reason? You’re just walking or driving down the street, or sitting at your desk, and all of a sudden you just start to smile? Don’t you love that?
I get that feeling a lot, and I’m pretty happy about it. (Apparently I’m also the queen of stating the obvious). Do you ever get that feeling? I really hope you do. Because it really is awesome. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, maybe you’re doing something wrong? I ask that without even an ounce of judgement. I’m the last person who’s going to judge how someone else runs their life. I mean there are aspects of my life that arguably are a bit of a disaster. Anyone who’s ever been in my car knows that. And I’m certainly not the person you want to talk to about keeping a meaningful relationship. I like to think I’m single because I just haven’t met the right person at the right time, but I think a strong argument can be made for I’m doing something wrong. (Announcing that probably isn’t going to help). I am also going through a period of my life where I spend too much time working, which means I’m not finding enough time for my family or my friends. I’m working on that, because my family and friends really are unbelievably important to me, and I don’t want to get to the point where I spend so little time with them that they move on. Since they are such awesome people, it will take a lot to get there; but I sure don’t want to test the limits. Plus the fact that they are so awesome means that I love spending time with them.
Here’s the thing though: Despite these shortcomings, I’m happy. Like spontaneously smiling for no reason on a regular basis happy. In other words, you don’t have to have all your shit together to be happy. But if you aren’t happy, maybe you need to have more of your shit together.
I didn’t always experience this. Or at least not particularly often. It wasn’t until I ditched my engineering career in favour of becoming a personal trainer that these spontaneous smiles started to appear so often. When I think about that, it kind of freaks me out. I mean, I used to be a huge believer that what we do for work is not very important; that it doesn’t and shouldn’t define us; and that it’s really just a means to support our lives. That’s probably still true for some people. If there’s enough amazing in the rest of your life that you are happy, then great. I’m certainly not trying to suggest that improving your work situation is the only root to happiness. I’m really just still shocked that it is a root to happiness.
It’s such a big change from my Lockheed Martin days when my neighbour and I used to talk about our golden handcuffs: the jobs we felt we had to keep even though we hated them because we couldn’t wrap our heads around the idea of the big pay cut we’d have to take to start over in something we might actually enjoy. Every day that we went to work, we were making a conscious judgment in the case of Nice Car V. Sense of Fulfillment.
I stayed at Lockheed Martin for a couple of years after that, and then continued to toil around in similar “great jobs” for almost 10 years before I finally made the career change that brought with it bouts of spontaneous happiness.
Random feelings of happiness entered my life as part of a career change, so that’s my experience. What’s yours? Family? Relationships? Kids? Activities? Or do you even get them? If not, do you think about making changes in the hopes that you will? In the case of the career change, I can say with 100% certainty that the increase in happiness is worth the decrease in pay.