Tommy liked his job. Tommy enjoyed his job so much that he actually looked forward to going to work each day. As the foreman of the shop he had a good crew to work with. It wasn’t that long ago that Tommy became enamored with Suzette, one of the administration staff at the facility. They married. Suzette and Tommy were very happy with themselves, their children, their jobs, and their life.
That was his problem.
Generous by nature, Tommy permitted his brother, separated from his wife and out of work, to live with them while he looked for work. Tommy’s father was ailing and he also joined the growing household. Coming over for regular bar-b-que’s and holidays were Tommy’s other siblings and relations. Their lives were filled with problems, resentments, illness, and legal issues. Tommy was concerned for all of them. He and Suzette felt blessed and happy while nobody else in the family did.
Tommy began to feel badly about feeling good. One day he discussed with his boss how he felt guilty because his relations were having so much trouble and his family had it so good. The boss understood, and was prepared to help Tommy. “Tell you what I can do, Tommy,” said the Boss. “You’re fired.”
Tommy was stunned. His boss continued. “Feel any better?” he asked. Tommy was too flummoxed to answer. “Now, as I understand it, some of your relations are jealous of your happy life and that bothers you. So, to help out, I’ve fired you. Now they’ll be happy, right?”
By that point Tommy was thinking more clearly. “But it won’t change anything, except now I don’t have a job.”
“You felt guilty about having a good job didn’t you?” asked the Boss.
“Well, yes,” replied Tommy.
“So by losing your job, you’ll feel better?”
“I don’t know about that,” said Tommy.
“Won’t they feel better, now that you’re in the same boat as them?” remarked the Boss.
“Doesn’t losing your job help them?”
“No,” mumbled Tommy.
“You mean to tell me that their lives aren’t going to get better just because you got fired?”
The Boss smiled. “Well, if losing your job isn’t going to help them, then you might as well keep it.” Tommy sighed relief. “However,” noted the Boss, “You can’t keep feeling guilty. Your having a job doesn’t keep them from doing anything. They’ll be just as miserable regardless of how happy and Suzette may be. That about right?”
Tommy scratched his head. “I hadn’t thought about it like that. My good life doesn’t mean they can’t have a good life. It’s up to them.”
“Bingo,” chimed the Boss.
As with the other tales in the book Habits, Patterns, and Thoughts That Go Bump in the Night, Tommy’s story is true. Isn’t it odd how some people feel bad about having some measure of good in their life? This is another variation of the Crab Bucket. Tommy’s good life doesn’t depend on what others think or do and visa versa - unless he allows it. Tommy wasn’t aware, at first, that he had that ability. Before his realization, “Do I want to be happy?” would have seemed a trick question. Not anymore. Not only does Tommy desire to be happy, he expects it.
A variation is “Do I deserve to be happy?” The very question answers itself – a resounding no. The question implies an obligation to justify existence. Some deeply held thinking habit is embedded in the psyche that forever chides the person to prove they are worthy. Prove worthy? To whom? The first answers are usually mother, father, parents, family, church, boss, and so on. The underlying premise is that happiness cannot exist without the permission (approval) of someone or something else. Whoever holds that approval authority is a powerful being indeed.
The true answer to the question, “Do I deserve to be happy?” is yes. Of course you do. It’s up to you, however, to enter that desired state of being. Happiness cannot be ordained or bestowed from something external. It’s an inside job, so to speak.
The geniuses who founded the United States of America based the entire enterprise on what Thomas Jefferson eloquently penned, with editorial assistance from Benjamin Franklin: “ We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Life and Liberty are recognized as rights bestowed by God (or whatever manner one may title the Creator) on each person. Each also has the right to pursue Happiness. Happiness is not a “right.” Happiness is not bestowed, or given. It is achieved. That is the magic of it. It was true then, it is true now, and it will be true tomorrow.
Happiness is available to anyone and everyone. It is not withheld from them by anyone or anything.
(Excerpt from Habits, Patterns, and Thoughts That Go Bump in the Night)