Many years ago, when I was in journalism school, I went to see a doctor. I was feeling lethargic. He ran the usual tests and, when they came back normal, he gave me this pearl of wisdom: “Get off your *ss!” It certainly wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but I never forgot his advice.
About ten months ago, I joined the ranks of the unemployed for the first time. I had worked for the same organization for 16 years and was then “constructively dismissed.” Needless to say, I didn’t take it too well. It was a real blow to my ego and my sense of security.
As I did less and less each passing month, depression set in. Mornings were the worst. I’d wake up, lie in bed, and think about my predicament. I felt like you-know-what. I knew that I could go one of two ways: become lazy and resentful or get off my *ss!
One of the things I decided to do was begin writing this weekly column. I also began studying French on a daily basis, practicing guitar more often, upgrading my graphic arts skills, and putting more effort into finding full-time employment.
It’s tempting to whine about our lot in life. We may be unhappy with our marriages, our jobs, or the price of chocolate. Underlying all the negativity is a “poor me” attitude and a sense of entitlement. If there’s nothing we can do about a situation, complaining won’t help. Instead, let’s try to improve our lives with some intelligent effort.
Maybe it’s just me, but I get the feeling that the “Protestant work ethic” that once characterized our society is quickly eroding. Most of us now seem to want instant fixes and instant gratification and we seem more willing to take the easy way out of our problems. To a large degree, it has become politically incorrect to emphasize personal responsibility, obligation and duty. It’s now a lot more acceptable to demand action and help from governments, churches and corporations — let’s call it the “Marxist blame the rich and powerful ethic.” Yes, the rich and powerful should do more to improve the world but, when it comes to our personal lives, it’s what we do or don’t do that counts the most.
Looking back on my life, I realize that whatever I’ve accomplished took a lot of effort. I should have worked even harder — I would have accomplished even more.