Stephen works as a coding apprentice in Bliss Inc. – a software development firm. He holds a recent postgraduate diploma degree in software development from MIT. Being brilliant with his stacks, paying close attention to design documentation, maintenance of good fault tolerance is just ‘Business As Usual’ for him- something that he least expects of himself.
Stephen earns a median salary of $150,000 per annum. He has applied for a conventional mortgage home loan and is aiming for a raise and promotion. He also plans to confess to Paulina, his high-school sweetheart, his long-held back fondness for her and get married by the next year. Every day, he can be found wearing a broad smile on his face – He calls it Happiness.
One day Stephen forgot to wear that familiar smile. The very smile that tagged him as a ‘happy guy’ at work. He is a stock that matters to Bliss Inc. His UX interactions have never been cliffhangers. Yet, oddly enough, that day it was pointed out by Shrapnel (the client) that there were some serious errors apparent within the final project submission that he had made. This further blew up to Stephen’s leader, who found it inexcusable and demanded an immediate explanation.
That day Stephen just couldn’t be himself. He found it hard to concentrate on his daily official tasks, let alone come up with an explanation! Still, he stretched on till well after the shift to put together a plausible explanation. As the buzz around his work pod halted to a standstill, he mailed his leader the fault diagnosis report that read apology as its opening line. Stephen swiped out of the office and took the elevator down to the office basement parking. He pushed himself onto the driver seat of his year-old red corvette and steered his way out of the compound.
As he drove his way back home, he recalled the long years of patient hard work and sacrifice that he had put in to get his degree and this job. It seemed very ironic to him that a few mistakes could get his job on the edge.
Now, here are a few teasers for the reader in you:
- Was Stephen aware of what happiness really is before the client meet happened?
- Is happiness synonymous with ambition?
- Is the chase to your goals the best and the only way to attain happiness?
If the answer is yes, let’s read on …
Consider scenario 1:
That day on, Stephen singlehandedly undertakes to remedy the glitches diagnosed in the report. A known perfectionist, he takes it upon himself to code immaculately and regularly stretches his shifts at Bliss Inc. He squeezes on his break time week on week till he obtains his mission. He forgets all about Paulina, who gets married by the fall. Later, Stephen gets to learn from Shrapnel about a newer, superior kind of application that surpasses his, just a day before he is about to submit the re-worked project.
The Outcome of Scenario 1
A possible relationship that Stephen nurtured ended before it even began. His project got by-passed by a better one. Eventually, all of this takes a toll on Stephen’s health. As it turns out, perfectionism and workaholism-induced hard work produces no results
Consider scenario 2:
That day on, Stephen sleeps an hour earlier than usual to ensure his bio clock is keyed-in with 8 hrs. a day sleep. He regularly calls Paulina to set up weekend dates and meetings. He exercises every day, breakfasts moderately, and then takes another 45 minutes off to closely research the newer architecture interfaces doing the rounds of the industry. On reaching Bliss Inc., he smiles just as before, but he also networks with his colleagues better than ever and makes some of them his co-stakeholders in the project. He is articulate, informed, in-sync with his team, and with the most recent trends.
The Outcome of Scenario 2
Stephen’s team completes the project in record time and it turns out to be better than the newer rival version. He kickstarts his love relationship. He feels more robust and resilient. And now, he doesn’t just wear a smile. He and his team belly genuine laughter and echo happiness reposing confidence with one another.
Happiness lies in the moments while ambition in the momentous. Our everyday joys and kind little gestures add up to genuine happiness.
While we all dream and yearn for the realization of our magnum opus ambitions, their achievement merely eases off our immense pent-up stress and we misread the ensuing relief as happiness! This is particularly true in the case of workaholics. They believe that eustress is the elixir of happiness obtained through working 16 hours a day. But, workaholism is an obsessive-compulsive disorder that forces your neurons to needless hyperactivity.
Once Stephen became self-aware, his actions became positive and everything fell in place (amygdala at work). But, when Stephen stood in the self-deprecating perfectionist (mind-ego) mode, his actions became self-pugnacious. Perfectionism is oxymoronic as it serves to defeat what it seeks.
Self-worth needn’t be seen through the lens of ambition. Treat happiness as an end in itself for it is a celebration of your unconditional existence. With enhanced self-worth and a buoyant happy mind state, managing your expectations (not ambitions) becomes much easier. This acquires more significance in the present pandemic-struck times when everything looks so very uncertain and grim. Most of our high flying ambitions have been silenced to a wait that begs the question – When would things get back to normal? If they would that is …
The inner unconditional happiness doesn’t beg the question though!
So, if you picture yourself as the Stephen in Scenario 1, don’t you think it is about time to step-up and transition to the Stephen in Scenario 2?