Happiness vs. Workaholism


Last month I mentioned a powerful book, What Happy People Know, by Dr. Dan Baker. Dr. Baker discusses the CEO of a company whose office was completely wiped out in the tragedy of 9/11, including the death of the man's grown son who worked there as well. The CEO was in Europe on business that fateful day. He received a frantic call from his secretary screaming about fire and gasoline. As he was trying to comprehend what she was saying, the line went dead. Shortly later he understood what her call was about. He lost his son, every employee, and his livelihood. And, on top of all this, he had lost his wife to cancer a year prior. He was all alone and felt that life could not, would not, go on. But it did'and he did'like the rest of us can do when we face traumatic events. And he eventually did so with the courage to live joyfully. Being miserable is easy. Being happy is hard. Dr. Baker says, "Happiness is the art of responding well when trouble strikes."

One of the happiness tools he describes is multidimensional living. The three main components of life are relationships (which we think of as love), purpose (which is usually work), and health. Many people put all their energy into just one area, often work. In fact, being a workaholic is looked at in our society as an attribute'going for the gold!'the one who dies with the most toys, wins! In my private counseling practice, I see time after time the negative effects of being a workaholic. People are exhausted and have no time for rest and relaxation so health problems related to stress abound. They have no time for a weekly date (or even conversation) with their spouse and wonder why they don't get along. The kids are bored as they are being reared by the TV and/or day care. Or they're involved in so many activities that they are emulating the workaholism of the parents! Even the family companion animals are lonely as they are being kept in the backyard or on chains with little or no attention. Dogs are actually experiencing separation anxiety. The effects of this can be emotionally disastrous for all involved.

When I was a child, my father finished his work day at 5 p.m. and was home ten minutes later. We ate dinner together about 5:15 p.m. and then had long, leisurely evenings. In addition to family dinners, we also ate breakfasts together. Kids tell me now that their family rarely eat more than two meals together with everyone present each week. We rode bikes, played badminton, visited relatives, looked through the neighbor's telescope, walked our black Cocker Spaniel Pudgie, talked to my parakeet, Pepper, who had a huge vocabulary, had picnics in a nearby park, read together, drove out to the lake, etc. Where did we go so wrong?

It might be a good idea for us to STOP, evaluate our time spent in relationships, work, and health and see if we need to bring these back in balance. Consider the CHOICE you have to live life tomorrow to its fullest.

Copyright ©2016, Sharon Scott.