More time for what matters

I short while ago, I wrote a post about the demands of employers on their workers, such as expecting salaried employees to work regular 50 to 75 hour weeks. In an article written for Yes! Magazine, Juliet Schor shared an interesting perspective on why working less can make the hugest difference in one’s life. I particularly enjoyed her correlation between overworking and a need for more processed food, higher energy consumption, increased waste, and more expenditures. Are you finding yourself in that lifestyle (the hour commute each way, the take-out dinners)? Schor offers some easy actions to alleviate this dilemma, as well as terrific insights. I hope you will read the article.

And an argument for employers: imagine how much more dedicated, passionate, and energetic your workers would be if they felt they had quality of life aside from their jobs? I’d like to see thirty-two or thirty-six work weeks lasting four days! Any takers? 😉

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So happy for YOU

Eeyore is a Trademarked/Copywritten character of Disney. This image source: http://www.fanpop.com/spots/disney/images/1348371/title/eeyore-fanart

My three-year old nephew is in the stage where he’s learning to monitor his own behavior – namely self-control. After not getting his way at Grandma’s house the other afternoon, Cruz launched into an adorable, yet fairly familiar, “Eeyore” phase. He moped, he sighed, he pouted. Head down, lip out… there was no way this three-year old was going to budge from his gloomy disposition. My mother saw it as an opportunity. She knelt to the ground, looked at Cruz and said, “Now Cruz I know you’re upset, and that’s okay. But let me ask you something. Do you want to be a sad little boy or do you want to be a happy little boy?” He looked up at his Grandma and said, “Happy.” Mom replied, “Well then all you have to do is put a smile on your face and go be happy.” It was that simple. Instantly his frown changed to a grin, and he trotted away to go have fun again – a real life Christopher Robin.

Could it be that easy? Can we just decide to be happy? For the most part, I say yes. In the face of tremendous pain and discomfort, human beings find reasons to smile as surely as they need air to breathe. It is not that we are incapable of being happy. It’s just difficult to feel happy sometimes.

Often it is difficult for people to find joy within their lives, and it can be even harder to celebrate the happiness of others. When confronted with the good fortune of their friends and colleagues many people prefer to remain securely in their “Eeyore” phase, rather than give in to the good feelings resonating from their companions. After all, isn’t it safer to be in the dredges of their misery – a place safe and familiar? Why feel joy for someone else, when they feel none for themselves? If anything, they feel resentment, right? Won’t it just make them more acutely aware of their misfortunes by rejoicing in the goodness within others’ lives?

Not really.

In this economic climate, it is difficult for even the most seasoned professional to procure suitable professional employment. Most artists participate in a constant battle with their esteem and determination in their attempts to access better professional opportunities for themselves. It could be easy to become resentful of others’ successes. But what good would that do for any of us?

A colleague of mine just received a coveted position at an excellent educational institution in the Northeast: a two-year visiting professor position in art. Having received his MFA in 2010 at the same institution I received mine, his invitation to teach at this school was a beacon of light to those in our field. Surely there will be a few of his colleagues or acquaintances who secretly grumble with envy and resentment, but the majority of us met the news with great enthusiasm. A “win” for him is a “win” for all of us.

And for some of us (er… ahem… ME), it was like our own dreams had come true. When I heard the news, I could not stand still! I was like a child – clapping my hands, bounding through my apartment with unfettered exuberance. That night it didn’t matter that I still worked a mind-numbing data entry job. I didn’t feel an ounce of resentment or jealousy. I felt hope, because someone I knew had just received the kind of news we all dream of getting: a job in our field!

Like my little (nearly!) four-year old nephew, we have a choice. We can decide to be happy. We might not always get our way, but we always have control over our perspective.

Think of it as good karma. Think of it as good manners. Whatever works for you; be happy for others.

After all, when it’s your turn to share your good news you’ll want everyone to be happy for your good fortune too!

Unemployment sucks, say 14 million people

Unemployment. It is everywhere and we hear about it every day on the news. For the unfortunate many, it is reality. Seldom do we hear good news. And on the days there is good news, we are always bracing ourselves for bad news to make its triumphant return.

Then, imagine my happiness this evening to see a positive newscast on employment! The CBS feature not only indicated a tiny glimmer of hope, it actually showed results–people are being hired! Yay! We all need a little pick me up, don’t you think? In the CBS video we learn about one man’s efforts to employ people in his town, through his foundation Hire Just One. The founder’s story, Gene Epstein, is heartening to any listener, but even more is his goal of helping employ people, one job at a time. Take a moment, and watch the feature by clicking here. (You can read the related article, Millionaire’s One-Man Stimulus Plan a Success here.)

Every once in a while, we are reminded that it really can take one person, one decision, one action, to change our reality. If we all made one choice like this, just imagine the strides our society could make toward repairing our economy! So if you are a small business owner, or you know someone who owns a business, why not tell them about this foundation and its ideas? Who knows the effect your suggestion might have in your community!

Find out more about Hire Just One at their website.

Image from HireJustOne.org