Column: In 2016, resolve to get involved
When I was a kid, I swore up and down that I would never take an office job. I thought I would never be happy in such a structured, indoor setting.
That’s changed, though. I enjoy my office job, and I really like going to meetings. I know it’s a little weird, but I look forward to them. Heck, I even go to Rifle City Council meetings for fun.
That’s not to say that I’m always content. Some days I watch the clock far more than is healthy. Do you ever spend the entire week looking forward to the weekend, wishing 5/7 of your time away? I have. What’s up with that?
I know people who are exhausted and fed up with both office work and meetings, and then there are those who just plain dread their job. There are drawbacks to everything, working included, but that shouldn’t stick us in a cycle of being continually discontent. I enjoy meetings because to me they mean involvement. Involvement is directly connected to how content I feel in my life.
I was lucky enough to stumble across this at a relatively young age. Involvement, volunteering, and connection in your community can have a huge impact on your personal life. It’s centered on giving our lives a sense of purpose, and doing one good turn can help shift an entire perspective.
It has the potential to be that “ah-ha” moment when you see the bigger picture and how you fit into it. In Girl Scouts, one of our laws was to “make the world a better place,” and my favorite line from the AmeriCorps pledge is “faced with apathy, I will take action.” These add perspective to what can be a very tunneling vision in our daily lives.
Community isn’t defined by physical boundaries; it’s defined by its citizens’ involvement. And happiness is not something that happens to you; it’s something you take charge of.
I know that Christmas is fast approaching and very distracting, but right on its heels is the New Year, so I’m hoping to appeal to your future self. After years of making lists of complex New Year’s resolutions that I failed to keep, last year I finally got simple; I resolved to get a job that was not in fast food.
That was the first year I can recall where I actually kept my resolution. It was simple, but the effect it had on my life was profound. It was so much better for me because instead of focusing on what I could change externally, it shifted my whole perspective, and that in turn helped me be more content internally.
So I challenge everyone to consider a simple, yet far reaching resolution like the one I undertook last year. Resolution: get involved. Get out of that continual repetition of being content. Shake things up, look at them from a different angle. You can be as flexible or as hard-core as you want, you just need to take the first step; I’ve always found that to be the hardest part.
Mike Rowe, one of my favorite TV personalities, put it into simple terms: “And most of all, stop worrying about your happiness. Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.”
For most of us, we will never have the perfect job, so I don’t think it’s worth wasting our lives searching for it. But that doesn’t mean we should feel discontent. Getting involved in the community and doing things outside of the workplace holds vast potential when it comes to being happy.
By letting me see the bigger picture, it helps me enjoy my job and see how everything I do fits in. There’s a reason people who volunteer refer to it as “giving back.” The more involved in the community, the more grateful one becomes to be part of that community.
Warning: Getting involved in the community may not be for everyone. Side effects include an increased sense of purpose, developing strong passions, discovering your own hidden talents, bonding with those around you, making new friends, and feeling good about yourself.
If you’re looking for somewhere to start out, contact me. This has been your friendly neighborhood AmeriCorps volunteer. I am, literally, at your service.
Cathleen Anthony is a member of the AmeriCorps Volunteers In Service To America branch and the assistant for the Greater Rifle Improvement Team. She can be reached at 970-665-6496 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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