Are you happy? I mean we all have things that make us happy (a favorite food, a favorite TV show etc.) but are you really happy? How To Catch Happy, from Jim F. Kukral, is a reminder of how to reconnect with the the inner happiness inside you. I recently had the pleasure of reading How To Catch Happy.
This short read will inspire you to take another look at your life and career and reexamine your priorities. The book reflects on the differences between doing things that make us happy, and doing things because we feel we ought to because of our sense of responsibility. Obviously we all have responsibilities, but maybe we could go about them in a different way.
For example, an executive of a big company can be worth millions. He feels he has a responsibility to his family to earn enough money to provide for a lifestyle that they have become accustomed to (like expensive cars, flying first class etc). He also feels he has a responsibility to his clients to give them what they need, around the clock. The millions of dollars in his paycheck sure are nice, but what toll has his long hours taken on his marriage and children? Maybe flying first class, and lavish vacations aren’t what would make his family and himself truly happy – perhaps they would really just prefer just being together more.
After finishing the book, I cant help but reflect on my own life. by the second semester of junior year of college I had an epiphany. I knew I would never be happy working for an ad agency. I was majoring in Digital Media Arts and was the queen of adobe products. I could Photoshop and use Illustrator with the best of them. I could create flash presentations and troubleshoot websites with errors on them. One of my classes, I believe it was Design Concepts, partnered with an Advertising class from the Communications department. We were put into groups. The Advertising class had to create the concept and copy and we were just the designers. We had to do whatever they told us. The kids in the Advertising class came up with all these extravagant ideas, and when our Design class tried explaining that we couldn’t actually design it that way for whatever reason, we were basically told, “figure it out”. The teachers stayed out of all our disputes because they wanted us to see what it would be like to work with an ad agency, and wanted the Advertising class to see what it was like to work with designers. My group was creating a campaign for a fake cell phone company. I had to create pop up and sidebar ads I also had to incorporate the same ads into an email campaign – trying to get it to all display the same for various email clients was a nightmare! If I got the ad to work with hotmail, it came up funky in yahoo mail. Eventually I got it all working, but my team wasn’t all that impressed with the amount of time it took. They never wanted to listen to my input, they wanted it done there way with no complaining. I knew Advertising was a cut throat world and I didn’t have what it would take to survive. But the money, oh it would be flowing in if I did make it. I knew I would be too stressed in an advertising career to be truly happy. I spent my senior year in a complete panic trying to figure out what I was going to do with my degree.
Upon graduating I still had no idea what type of job I wanted to apply for. In a panic to just get money comming in I started applying to print shops for pre-press positions. I knew i could fix a file ad get it print ready for offset or digital presses. One place that called me back was a Digital Printing shop. They wanted me to run their digital presses and do a little pre-press work on the side. I took the job in a heart beat. Almost three years later I still had never done any pre-press.. Over my short time there I had been promised my own office, and promotions and stock options – all of which I saw none of. I jumped ship and went to run digital presses at their biggest competitor. By then I was less niave. No pre-press until I see a raise first. I found out their pre-press was making $3 an hour more than me to start – why should I do their work for less pay? I always bring it up that with my degree I should be doing more than running a press, but Im not taking on more work, and more stress unless I take on more pay! They always say they are looking into it, and want more more involved blah blah blah.
So its now five year since graduation and im still trying to catch happy. One line from How to Catch Happy that really struck me was
You don’t believe that you can live the life you want AND make the money you want AND do all the things you want to do. You are stuck believing that you must continue to work at the job you may or may not hate, day after day, year after year.
Tony tells me all the time that he feels I got comfortable at this job and am settling, even though I am not happy. I don’t hate my job, but i don’t love it either. My current shift means that I don’t see Tonys daughter on the weekends, and that has really put a damper on our relationship. The book is right, I used believe that I couldn’t find a job that makes me happy that would provide me with enough money to live comfortably. Now I know it is out there, I just have to figure out what type of jobs are out there where I don’t have to dress up, talk to customers or work weekends.
I really liked that this book is not a step by step book that you have seen around before. The author shares his life experiences about how he had his “ah-ha” moment – for him it was an anxiety attack at work. He also shares stories of those he has met who have caught “happy” at different points in their life.
Have you caught happy?
Or is it something you are still striving to achieve?
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