THE OVATION

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Every day the same routine: A very early start only to find the everyday sullen colleagues in the rickety van towards the site where they will get the pile of advertisements which everyone in their corner would have to deliver to the hurried pedestrians who would pass by pretending not seeing him in order to avoid the inconvenience of having their hands hindered with the annoying handouts until they reach the nearest dustbin.

He would have liked to get a more exciting job with another kind of routine, a more interesting one, the everyday routine which the footballers he admired so much or the doctors who so carefully cured him every time he had one of his epileptic seizures were supposed to have. Te best thing about the goals or the fact of being able to cure people –he thought- was the applause from the team fans for the players or the silent and admired social acknowledgment for the doctors.

In his case, regrettably, his clumsiness not only was the hindrance which had prevented him to achieve the smallest applause in any sport, it was also the physical sign of his mental sluggishness for understanding the most elemental things as well as to act naturally in the most simple situations of everyday life. Therefore, his only routines were the habits developed in the centre for disabled children where he had spend his childhood and youth: personal hygiene, execution of simple directions and not much more.

So, he knew he was doomed to a routine not at all exciting: he would never be able to score a goal nor perform brain surgery; delivering advertising brochures in his corner or in mailboxes will be the real thing for him. That was why his frustration grew more and more each day.

That morning, however, he didn’t feel so discouraged as always. Particularly interesting had he found some advertisements in the pile of brochures he had to deliver: healthy food he had learnt to eat in the centre for disabled children and which he liked very much. Therefore, instead of “attacking” the pedestrians with their handouts, that morning he offered the brochures with a broad smile while commenting: “See the delicious vegetables full of protein”, “look at the oily fish with its omega fatty acids”.

The handouts were gone in a few hours while his colleagues in their own corners of had still brochures to deliver for a long time.
From this day on, before starting the work, he always had a look to the brochures to see what goods recommend to “his clients”. Gradually, his corner became the most crowded point in that square and it was not infrequent to see a little queue of people waiting for his suggestions.

The boss began to think of promoting his most efficient worker. But, in fact, he didn’t need any promotion. He had got his ovation. His little daily routine had now its fullest meaning and, thus, he was truly happy.

A PRESCRIPTION FOR HAPPINESS
I recently came across an article in which the author argued that happiness is consists of those little everyday routines which we are unaware of: our family and friends, our work, the books on the shelf and so on.

The happiness within our reach and yet so far for the vast majority of us. 

I think the prescription lacks an important ingredient: the MEANING we GIVE to our routine and which is not in or which doesn’t derive from that we do but from WHY and HOW we do it.
Changing a baby’s diaper may be a very upsetting task –if focused from our personal comfort- or nearly sublime if performed from the love and careful dedication to our child.

So, the key for the happiness is not outside –techniques, rituals or pills- but within us. If we consider all our routines within two dimensions: pleasant/unpleasant and emptiness/fulfilment, we can see that happiness is close of fulfilment. Even though this implies a certain amount of unpleasantness. Such is the foundation of our VALUES.

Happiness is not a place to reach to nor a substance to take. Rather it is something we have to make and maintain with our everyday deeds.

As Viktor Frankl noted: Life does not HAVE a meaning; we have to GIVE our life a meaning.