Thursday, June 5, 2014

Happiness is what you say it is

OK, time for existentialism post grad level.

I heard a report in the last few days about how 3/4 of Americans don't like their jobs, even though they have a job and almost 7% of folks don't--much higher in rural areas and among minorities.

Gone, I suspect, are the days that were what they were for my parents' generation: having a job = happiness.

I was a full-time priest for over 30 years. For the first decade of that, I can't say that I 'loved' my job that much. I felt beset upon by the things that happened and the meaning those things drug after them. Then, in 1987 I think (though my linear time stuff is halting, as you probably already know) I went to The Making A Difference Workshop and learned that meaning is 'what we say it is' and that it is possible to 'be' in the face of what happens and what we say about it.

I know the first time I heard that kind of language I was perplexed and confused. But believe me on this (going back to a recent post about how life is 'empty and meaningless') stuff that happens doesn't 'mean' anything. It just happens and the happening of it is empty and meaningless. The "meaning" comes from WHAT WE SAY about WHAT HAPPENED, not from 'what happened' itself.

"Stuff happens": a baby is born, a war begins, someone visits the moon, a child dies in an accident, the stock market crashes, a war ends, an election is held, a marriage breaks up, someone gets AIDS, two people fall in love, the stock market rebounds, Congress passes a bill, you get cancer, your daughter gets married, you father becomes senile, you get a raise, a hurricane sweeps in off the south Atlantic, on and on.

Believe me on this: nothing about "what happened" had 'meaning' attached. It's just 'what happened'.

Then you and I talk about 'what happened' and weigh it down with 'meaningfulness' and then imagine the 'meaning' came from what happened and not what we said about it.

People hate their jobs and believe, totally believe, their jobs bring the hatefulness with them.

Instead, the jobs are just what they are--no meaning attached--and the transforming, liberating reality is that you and I get to 'say what they mean'.

Stuff happens and we talk about it and we believe what we have to say about what happened came from 'what happened'. NO! We made up the meaning.

Ponder, if you can, what a wondrous thing it is that we can 'name' the meaning of 'what happens' to us.

I'll leave you there. And, I'll be back.

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.