On Wednesday I made a rustic overhead light for our cooking station at home. It involved me sanding down a largish tree stump log, boring holes for wire, stapling cabling to the wood, wiring the light fittings, drilling into concrete… the whole shebang. Always, after making something with my hands, I feel joy and a sense of accomplishment. I HAVE SUCCEEDED, I tell myself. Yet on Thursday morning, I had an argument with my wife (not about the new light). This got me to thinking, how much influence do our accomplishments have on our general levels of happiness? I had just created and achieved, yet I was still irritable the following morning.
I thought back to previous accomplishments; achieving a degree, paying for my first car, moving out into my own flat, buying my first home appliance, learning how the washing machine actually works (it turns out that clothes are not cleaned by the cleaning fairy like my dad said). All these I would consider milestones in life, yet they have no actual bearing on my everyday life. No bearing, but I revolve my life around, “What achievement am I working towards next?”.
On the way to school on that same Thursday morning I saw a traffic officer directing traffic. A task which most would consider dull. This officer was whistling joyously, he was using the hand signals of an airport employee directing an aircraft and his footwork…. Who would think that directing traffic should involve fancy footwork that would rival the great Muhammad Ali. “This”, I thought to myself, “is how you enjoy your job.”
The book of Ecclesiastes contains timeless wisdom about chasing after achievement and the search for meaning. If you are wanting on to chew on a text and wrestle with big questions take the challenge of giving it a read. But here is short snippet I hold close to my heart:
Ecc 2:24-25 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?
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