There is a third component of the Happiness Project, which is an effort to improve our community by helping individuals become more satisfied with their lives.
Mastery is an often forgotten ingredient in a happy person’s life. People who are good at video games take great pleasure in playing. That’s because doing what we are good at makes us happy. While we can’t be naturally good at everything, applying oneself and practicing really can make perfect. The payoff not only includes avoiding unpleasant situations and frustrations, but actively improving our lives.
I remember being in Subway when there was a long lineup. The fellow making the sandwiches couldn’t care less, moved at a snail’s pace, and everyone had to repeat themselves. By the time our food was done, we were all in a fairly impatient mood and somewhat curt to this employee.
By contrast, I have vivid memories of a little Italian restaurant in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The waiter was the owner’s son. He greeted you in a low-key, friendly way, took your order, and you never saw him again until it was time to settle the bill. Yet your food magically appeared in front of you, and your wine glass was always full. I asked him if people appreciated his work. He told me he made $70,000 a year in tips. Back in those days you could buy a new brick bungalow for $30,000. His tips were a huge amount of money, equivalent to $350,000 today. And, he genuinely enjoyed his work.
So, a little effort and lots of practice can make us masters of our work and play time and, most importantly, masters of our destinies. Being able to do something well helps us feel that we are in control of our lives. This sense of control brings people great satisfaction and contentment – in other words, happiness. My challenge this month is for us all to practice one work and one play activity to improve our mastery of it. What part of your universe will you be master of?
Manon is a resident of Boyle Street and an active volunteer in the community. This column contains her own opinions, and is not affiliated with the Boyle Street Community League.