This article was originally posted on Brazen Life on April 24, 2013.
You Deserve Happiness, So Stop Settling for Less
By: Krista Goral, for Brazen Life
A scene in the film Me and You and Everyone We Know—a quirky love story about a lonely shoe salesman and an equally lonely artist—shows the artist in the store where the salesman works, waiting while a friend shops.
The shoe salesman glances at the artist’s shoes and asks, “Are those comfortable?”
She says, “I guess so. I mean, they kind of rub my ankles, but all shoes do that. I have low ankles.”
He looks her in the eye and says, “You think you deserve that pain, but you don’t.”
You think you deserve that pain, but you don’t.
Too many of us go through life quietly enduring things that make us unhappy. We tolerate jobs that cut into our well-being. We stay in roles that rub and chafe and wear away at our happiness. In short, we settle.
A few years ago, while eating lunch with my colleagues in our corporate cafeteria, I looked around the room at everyone and then turned to my coworker. I asked, “Do you think these people are happy?”
He replied, “Right now they are.”
“In general, though,” I said. “Do you think they’re happy?”
He stared at me. “Do you really think anybody is happy with their job?”
And there it was.
We grow up dreaming of being astronauts and princesses. We’re told we can achieve anything we want. We’re promised the world and permitted to dream beyond its limits. But at some point along the way, we abandon the concept of happiness completely. We build lifestyles of cubicles and commutes. We do what we think we should.
And then we wake up on Monday morning filled with dread and think it would be ludicrous to expect otherwise.
“Nobody likes their job,” we justify, “so I shouldn’t expect to, either.”
The salesman in the film goes on to say, “People think foot pain is a fact of life. Life is actually better than that.”
The artist’s friend adds, “Your whole life could be better, starting right now.”
Your whole life can be better.
You deserve to face Monday with something more than despair. You deserve to feel excited about something more than Friday evening. You deserve to love your job. You deserve to feel that your happiness still counts. Because it does.
Happiness should be a standard that life decisions are measured against, and any decision that undermines your happiness should be regarded as a poor one.
Don’t bind yourself up in a mortgage if you’re going to use it as an excuse to stay in a job you hate. Don’t move to a city you hate for a job you hate just because it pays well. Don’t arrange your life so that you work an hour from home if you’re going to spend the commute missing your children grow up.
Do not settle for shoes that hurt your feet.
Do not justify a job that pains you in other ways.
Happiness is a basic necessity. Expect happiness—and then figure out how to get it.
To borrow one last line from the movie, “I am prepared for amazing things to happen.”
I deserve it. You do, too.
Alison’s reaction (originally posted as a comment on Brazen Life):
I enjoyed how you wove the movie’s themes with this post. (I just made a note to see it!)
That said, something about the sentiments in this article made me cringe. And I’m a career coach who helps people do exactly what you’re saying- move from jobs they hate to work they love!
Here are a few implications I’m getting from this article that I disagree with.
1) It’s not okay to quietly endure things that make us unhappy.
I think that people should work to set up their lives and careers in a way that suits them, but there are going to be times when compromise is necessary to get what we want. In those instances, yes, we’ll put up with what we don’t like, and it’s okay to do so.
2) Happiness lies outside of ourselves in some perfect career.
There are definitely jobs out there that are better or worse fits for us, and finding a good fit does make a difference in the caliber of our days. But holding out for perfection? Talk about giving away all your power. Happiness resides within us and in the way we choose to perceive our circumstances. Believing there’s some perfect career out there that will swoop in and save us will lead to loads of disappointment and frustration.
3) We should not settle for anything less (than exactly what we want).
I think we would all love to be Nobel peace prize winning millionaires who still have plenty of free time for our hot air balloon hobby. But I also think at some point, as we grow up, most of us realize that we are going to lead pretty ordinary lives, hopefully making a bit of a difference in our little corner of the world. There is definitely a settling of expectations that occurs, and that’s a good thing.
4) People should be happy with their jobs all the time.
There are going to be good days and bad days in any field, in any company, anyplace in the world. Even in a career you love.
5) It was true when we were told “we can achieve anything we want”.
You can’t achieve anything you want. You can achieve maybe a few things when you’re connected to people who will help you, an understanding of what you need to do, and a lot of persistence to get it done.
6) You deserve to love your job.
I would change this entire sentence from the passive and entitled ‘You deserve to love your job’ to ‘You can set a goal, work day after day, make sacrifices, and eventually build a career around something you care about. It won’t always be easy, and there will be times when you want to give up. Hang in there.’
Overall, I love the ideals you presented here. I just think they need to be tempered with a bit of a reality check. Hopping off my soapbox!
What do you think? Leave a comment below!