The other day I got to thinking about when way back in 1979, I was fortunate enough to go to work for the post office as a part time clerk. And when I say "fortunate", I mean blessed. The salary and hours afforded me a luxury few working mothers have. I went in at 6 am and was off by 1 pm. While I wasn't able to see my kids off to school, I was home before them, got to be a home room mother, never missed a school program, was a PTA officer, and best of all, I was given precious time with them when they were small.
One of our station managers during that time was a cute as the dickens woman named Linda. Linda worked right along with us and twice as hard to see that all went smoothly. She was also a great people person. When an irate customer came to the front window we had a method for trying to help calm them down. First the full time clerk would try, then if they were still ranting, I was next to try. I'm the original peacemaker and hate confrontation of any nature, but when even I couldn't soothe the savage beast, then it was Linda's turn.
I can still see her, coming around the corner, walking up to the counter, smiling pleasantly and looking straight into their eyes, very calmly asking "What will it take to make you happy?"
For whatever reason, that one question would shut down their anger and allow her to talk them off the ledge. Oh, they'd sputter for a bit, but when she'd repeat the question, you could actually see the wheels turning. Try as they might, they really couldn't pinpoint why they were unhappy with their service...unless of course their paycheck had been delivered three streets over on more than one occasion!
But the point is, most customers left our PO satisfied and happy. Satisfied because they believed they had won the battle and happy because all they wanted in the first place was to vent, to be heard and know they mattered.
As I sat in the bathtub ('cause y'all know that's where I do my best thinking and listening), the thought popped into my head, "what if no one is really happy."? I see all the negativity on FB, the slurs, tacky comments, braggadocio, and wonder if they know what happy is.
Is it like those customers at the Post Office? Do they have the need to pick and win fights, if for no other reason, to demonstrate their superiority. Or could it be frustration and a feeling of inadequacy brought on because everyone else seems to have it all and to have it altogether?
Is it that the Internet has a way of unleashing our evil twins, allowing us to say things we would never think, much less do, in the real world?
(For the record, I'm not pointing any fingers here. If I'm going to be honest, I find myself resembling Kermit on more than one occasion.)
I asked myself this question last night, so now, in my best Linda voice, I ask you the same one.
What will it take to make you happy?
And before you answer, dig deep. Go beyond happy for the moment or the day and contemplate having it for a lifetime.
Children bring happiness and it's an incomparable joy, but with them can come unbelievable heartache. Too many times, we build our world around them to the point they are our only happiness. And when the time comes for them to leave the nest in search of their own happiness, we are at a loss as to what to do with the rest of our lives.
Outward beauty is only temporary...unless you're Dorian Gray. All the makeup, plastic surgery, etc. can't change our insides. We can plump it, pump it, suck it, augment it, but until the day comes when sunshine can be injected into our veins or a mirror to reflect our true heart, all the Botox in the world won't bring lasting happiness.
I hate to keep using cliches, but it's true...fame is fleeting...sometimes going as fast as it came. And depending on the type of fame, with a heavy price tag beginning with a lack of privacy and ending with a "he/she used to be..."
Money can't buy happiness. It can only buy things for temporary gratification and things don't last. It can bring peace of mind, but only for the physical needs like food and shelter. It can't protect us from life's dings nor provide nourishment for the soul. And no matter how much money we have, it can't buy us one more day than our creator gives us.
Expecting life to move smoothly with no hiccups along the way is impossible. We gave up the chance for a perfect existence with that first bite of the forbidden fruit.
So, I'll ask you once more.
What will it take to make you happy?