“The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.” ~Marcel Pagnol
I work in Corporate America. If that statement doesn’t tell a story then you haven’t been awake for the last ten years. My day consists of collaborative teamwork and nothingness. The first thing I think of when I say the word “nothingness” is The Neverending Story that I watched as a child. I remember the young princess screaming at the boy reading the story “Bastian, what’s my name?” Then the two of them sitting in nothing but darkness and Bastian asks something to the affect of ‘what will happen to Fantasia’ and the princess says “whatever you want.”
On a daily, if not hourly basis, I find myself in that darkness – it’s a pit of despair that everyone around me is also stuck in. The nothingness has consumed us all. We don’t say anything because we have to be “happy we just have jobs” but the truth is we are silenced by the thought that we and our families could be left with nothingness – but in essence the nothingness has already consumed us. The nothingness monster can be anything from our bosses, to our spouses or even the traffic we get stuck in during our morning drive. Often, we all feel we are in an inescapable place because we don’t try to escape. We feel there is no road out, because there really may not be one. What a waste we are being nothing. Our lives revolve around whether we have a good day at work, essentially whether we please others. No one stops to realize we aren’t even pleasing ourselves. But the nothingness is everywhere, how can you escape it?
“Stop searching the world for treasure. The real treasure is in you.” ~Pablo Valle
I go back to the scene with Bastian and the princess. After spending hours and hours reading this book, he realizes he was the most important person in the story the whole time. So why not be the most important in your story? Stop trying to please others because their pleasure doesn’t depend on you, it depends on their own growth and happiness as a person. I often watch one of the associate directors at my job, nearly skip around the office with pleasure and I find myself loathing him because he has made so many of us unhappy with his ill rulings – yet, he is as happy as a clown. Why? Probably because he doesn’t know everyone hates him and he is stuck in the reality that everyone really likes him. I am jealous. Why am I dwelling on all this hate when he is skipping around? Shouldn’t I be skipping around and saying “I’m not going to let this job affect me as a person. I am happy with my life, I have a family who loves me and nothing about this job defines who I am as a human being.”
"This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time." ~Narrator, Fight Club
If you are an unhappy person, you tend to spread your unhappiness – even to your loved ones. Stop! Stop dwelling on all the things you can’t change and focus on the things you can. If you are trapped in your Corporate America job, only be trapped at work - don’t bring your work home with you! If you are trapped in a leadership role and you don’t want to quit because you’re not a quitter – don’t quit, but leave that anxiety in the emails you read in your inbox. (All lessons I am still working on myself.)
Now I recall the scene from Groundhog Day where Bill Murray re-living every day over and over again and he has an epiphany – “I am going to change.” He takes up piano, starts saving the day and becomes a better person than who he was when we started the movie. We all carry so many unnecessary burdens around with us all the time. Like the fight you had with your spouse this morning – don’t reconvene it when you get home. Let it go. The sooner we find ourselves and try to make ourselves happy, the happier people and things around us can become.
"Be the change you want to see in the world." ~Mahatma Gandhi
Don’t live in the moment, live for the moment. So you had a bad day, so your inbox is full of garbage and drama, so you got stuck in traffic, so you had a bad morning with your spouse. So what? None of these things are worth dwelling on; if for only a minute you try to change your own perspective. You can persevere through this stage in your life. Make the best of the situation you have been dealt. Of course doing the best at a job you hate is difficult, especially without recognition, but by doing your best you are going to feel positivity knowing you are doing your best.
“We practice Buddhism so that we can develop and improve ourselves, and carry out our human revolution in our workplaces, in our families and in our communities. We do so in order to create the greatest value where we are right now…” –President Ikeda, Soka Gakkai International
When we work to improve ourselves, our responses and initiate the mission of kosen-rufu in our lives we are creating order and balance. Good comes with the bad, and the dreaded nothingness disappears and becomes something we could have only dreamed of.I have a job in Corporate America but I know I am the best at what I do and everything else in-between. I am striving for the philosophy of changing my own reality. I will continue to follow a courageous path wherever it leads, whether it is mountains or molehills.