I’ve been thinking about happiness a lot lately. What does it mean to be happy? I know that in general, I am a happy person. I know I feel most content when I’m with my husband, family, and friends. I’m also incredibly happy when I’m alone, whether I’m doing dishes, watching TV, folding laundry, or reading.
Little things make me happy, like watching 30 Rock every single day when I get out of the shower, or finding a new seltzer water flavor to obsess over. Afternoon showers, fresh sheets, old Disney songs, a new book to read, these are all things that instantly make my day and bring my soul a sense of lightheartedness and happiness. The problem is that as easy as it is for little things to make my day, little things can also ruin my day.
My day is never ruined by high gas prices, long lines, or lost luggage. In fact, things that many people find irritating and off-putting tend to roll off my back, I can adapt quite easily. I mean shoot, the fact that I can never go out to eat with my husband, have a glass of wine, or travel to exotic locations because of my allergies doesn’t even make me unhappy. The one thing that sets me off over and over again and can easily ruin my day is when people are rude, inconsiderate, or have an attitude for absolutely no reason.
It is the realization of this that has led me to the conclusion that I will never be truly happy until I can stop letting other peoples’ behavior affect me. It’s just so damn hard for me though. I live in a perpetual state of wanting to help others, it is how I’m hard-wired. I’m not trying to toot my own horn because it’s nothing amazing and honorable, a lot of people are like that. My personality type, INFP, has a lot to do with it. I just can’t help it- no matter what I’m doing I am thinking about a way I can turn it into an opportunity to help someone else.
This is why it is so instantly crushing, confusing, and infuriating for me when other people don’t operate in the same way. I don’t have ridiculously high expectations- I don’t think everyone should tip waitresses 40% and constantly be in search of ways to partake in random acts of kindness. But I do expect courtesy, respect, and manners from complete strangers and dear friends alike. These days? It seems those are too high of expectations.
In my personal life, I can very easily remove myself from those who are rude, entitled, and “unsafe” as my former therapist described them. In fact, I have removed myself from those relationships and that is why I think I’m happy about 70% of the time. The other 30% of the time I am at work, dealing with people I cannot just eliminate from my life.
In the shower tonight, I started laughing thinking about the array of jobs I have had. I’ve been working since I was 15 years old and while I have really enjoyed some of my jobs, the one thing that has made me unhappy in every single one of them has been the people I have had to work with, for, or around. It was so surprising when I realized this because I love people! Scratch that, I love nice people. I love people who are great conversationalists, people who are caring, people who have great senses of humor, people who make me think outside the box and offer new perspective.
But I can quickly go from smiles and sunshine to death threats and snarling when a person ruins my happy, peaceful day with attitude or unwarranted rudeness. I wish I could just let it go, I truly do. But instead I act out twenty different scenarios in my head of responses I wish I could say, but can’t. After all, I’m at work. I used to think I liked customer service, turns out I only like serving those who I deem deserving of my service. Yeah, that sounds really crappy to say but I’m putting it out there anyway. To “deserve” my service, you don’t have to do much. Eye contact and a slight grin is usually enough, by the way. See? Not ridiculously unrealistic.
All day today I had to sit and think about the girl who was insanely nasty and rude to me at 8:03 AM, THREE MINUTES AFTER I HAD ARRIVED TO WORK. It was the perfect start to what became a truly terrible day. I believe in the laws of attraction, so I do think that starting my day off in a foul mood created the opportunity for negativity to consume the rest of my day. And it sure did.
This is why I’m never going to be fully happy in a job, no matter what it is I’m doing. I could be picking up garbage on I-95 or a professional baby tickler by day and ice cream taste tester by night, it doesn’t matter. I’m too easily impacted by the behavior and rudeness of others. Those people exist everywhere and it is not their job to change, it’s my job to stop letting them bother me. It can be done, I know it can. For my personality type, it’s going to take a lot more work than it might for others, but I have to work on this major flaw of mine. After all, when your life is great and the only thing that makes you unhappy is other people, it’s time to realize that those other people should not and DO not have the power to alter your inner happiness.