FINDING HAPPINESS

I’ve been around our planet long enough to realize that most people have set the wrong priorities when it comes to finding the meaning of life. And it pains me greatly to see dear ones come to term with what’s really important when it’s too late for them to reap the benefits of their discovery.

When I was in the federal workforce, there was a virus going around that infected the behavior of many employees. I hear that the virus is still around today. Rather than being content and diligent with fulfilling their job elements to the best of their abilities and making their programs and offices more successful, they were obsessed with just getting their next promotion. The higher the promotion in the career ladder – like the one for the Senior Executive Service (SES) – the more aberrant their behavior got. For example, I met an African-American manager who confided in me after exiting a job interview for an SES position that he had told the members of the interview panel that he was willing to do whatever it took to keep the managers happy – even to the extent of manipulating the regulations to derail potential findings of discrimination in civil rights complaints. This manager was an embarrassment to the civil service and a disgrace to every employee who filed a meritorious complaint of discrimination. But, he was only thinking about himself and the SES promotion.

And I remember acquaintances who were overly concerned with outwardly appearances. When the disco fever was around, they spent their full paychecks on getting the grooviest wardrobe. To hook up the prettiest women, you had to dress the part – was their motto. And some contracted matrimony without really getting to know each other well – which led often to disastrous marriages and breakups. 

But let’s not forget the couples who had to evince to their neighbors that they had attained the American Dream. Driving a Lexus was not chic enough – a Maserati or a Bentley were better choices. And what better way to flaunt their pseudo opulence than wearing a diamond ring of at least two carats. Never mind that the husband was having an affair, the teenage son had an opioid addiction, and the wife was a victim of domestic violence. What’s most important to them was that the outside world saw a “they-made-it-in-the-high-society” picture. 

Then, there is the person who had a 2-hour commute to get to work, rarely took any vacations, neglected his family responsibilities consistently (like not taking his kids to soccer practice or attending their games), and had no time to take his wife to a romantic dinner at a nice restaurant. His excuse was that he’d have the time to do all these things after he retired.

And then, there is the married couple who argued a lot because they wished that they lived with the “perfect” significant other. Missing from these arguments was a realization that women’s emotional intelligence is far more developed than that of men, or that most men think with their minds first before they bring in their hearts. Moreover, most women want to settle arguments instantly, while men need more time to digest incidents in their caves. To aim for perfection in each other is delusional. To ignore the physiological and psychological differences of the sexes is counterproductive.

Which brings me to the point of what’s really important in life. It’s none of the things that I’ve discussed above. 

Here is the secret that I don’t mind sharing with you. The most important thing in life is “TIME.”

A person who thought that he/she could live forever was in for a rude awakening when he’s told that he/she had stage-4 cancer. The millions in the world could not grant him/her two more weeks to see his/her son/daughter graduate from college.

A member of the military when mortally wounded did not have time to raise his kids, pay for their education, and tell his wife how much he loved her.

An employee who’s suffered a major heart-attack lacked the time to go on vacation and see the world.

And the list goes on and on.

But I choose to go back to the married couple who had frequent arguments because of their search for perfection in each other. And their arguments could last for days and weeks. And one was too proud and silly to tell the other that he or she was sorry. And I think about those wasted moments that the patient with stage-4 cancer, the mortally-wounded service man, and the employee with the massive heart-attack never had. They would have killed to have these moments for themselves!

And I’ve come to the realization that the most precious thing that the married couple above could have to enjoy a happy life together is the time to enjoy life to the fullest, to make every moment count in their love for each other, their families and their friends, and to make an oath that going forward they will be content to accept the many imperfections that we all have because of our humanity.

The world will be a better place when we cherish the Time that we are all granted by our God to make a positive difference in each other. There is not a precious moment to waste. Our God grants us a beginning and an end. What comes in-between is a gift, and it’s up to each of us what we make of it!

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