-First posted in my Multiply last November 22, 2007-
Contentment, where art thou? I examined the lives of two people in search for it.
In Pursuit of Happiness
I had an enlightening experience two weeks ago over breakfast while dining at Jollibee – Convergys (Ayala Avenue, Makati City). I shared the table with an old lady in her 50’s, and while I’m eating my spaghetti, she asked if the company name in my polo shirt (Source One Asia) is a Call Center. I confirmed, then she told me that she wanted to try applying for a Call Center job.
They live in Bulacan, and she works in an insurance company in Makati with her children who have now completed college. She’s been working for her company for quite a long time now, and wants to try working in a Call Center for a better compensation and for a “new experience”.
She’d often see a lot of classified ads in newspapers related to this, and so she’s curious about what might happen to her if she tackles it. I told her that usually one out of 40 people get hired in the application process, and that though it’s high-paying, the stakes are equally high as well. Working at night plus the stress that comes with it. And yes, most especially, the stress.
I told her how I lost a lot of weight, and eventually got ill while working for my previous company due to the demands of the job. After I finished my breakfast, I learned that her name is Luisa.
Luisa taught me that: Contentment is elusive to an extremely goal-oriented person like the way True Love is to a hopeless romantic.
Last week, going to church on a Sunday morning, I had a chat with Grace Cabote who works as Tutor for Koreans. She’s been working there for two years now. I know that it’s a great challenge teaching English to Koreans because they have trouble pronouncing some letters like “R” and “L”.
Some of them have some sort “superiority complex” thinking that their country is better than other Asian countries, or that their people are more well-off than the rest of their neighboring countries. [I used to do freelance English tutoring to Koreans, too.]
When I asked her if she ever thought of working for another company since she finished a college degree in Tourism, her reply and the glow in her eyes signify that she loves what she’s doing right now.
After hearing from another friend who work for the same Korean school that the pay is not that satisfactory, I asked if she’s happy with her compensation. Since this is her first job after graduating from college, she said that the salary is “fine” because she doesn’t have other point of comparison anyway.
That only proves the fact that salary is not always the reason why an employee stays with a company, but mostly because of one’s love for the job and co-workers, as well as work ambiance.
I admire Grace’s dedication in her job and at the same time, her commitment to her church ministries: Ushering, Puppet Group and International Students Ministries. I realized that she’s walking along the path of God’s will for her life since she has joy and peace in what she’s doing right now, no matter how busy she is.
I reflected about my life: where I am and where I am headed. I’m at a point where there’s a growing discontent inside me because I keep wishing that I was also either working, traveling, or studying abroad like my other friends.
It’s all my fault. I tend to compare myself with others. This reminds me of what Pastor Michael told me once in our counseling session. He said that I have my own “race to run” so I shouldn’t think that I’m left behind just because my friends are moving forward in their careers. Oh, yes! I still have a whole lot to learn in life.
Last night at our Big Group Meeting in Victory Center Galleria, I asked Ate Jojie Balanag, my prayer partner, to pray for me to learn to be content and grateful for where I am and what I have right now and to I excel in my current work.
Maybe in God’s time I’ll be able to work, travel, or study abroad. But in the meantime, I sense God is teaching me hard yet valuable lessons after some of my plans have failed. He’s making me realize that He has better plans for my life, and that I need to consistently obey Him for best results.
From my conversations with Luisa and Grace, I learned that we cannot find contentment in our career, position or social status, nor in possessions. I learned that contentment is more of “a choice,” just like choosing to love a person with your whole life. Above all, contentment comes when we become secure in God.
“Realize that true happiness lies within you. Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside. Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.” – Og Mandino