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But are you happy?

The other day I saw a picture of someone I know moving their child into college. I haven’t seen them for some time. Our kids used to play together when they were little, but kids grow up and life changes. Seeing the image took me back to a conversation we had several years earlier.

I had stopped by their house to pick up my daughter, and we chatted as I waited on the front steps. Just about everyday stuff – kids, life, etc. Out of the blue, he made a comment about wanting to leave his job. He was miserable, though he didn’t say it outright. It was written all over his face. I asked if he had discussed it with his wife. He had and she had basically told him to buck up, he had x number of years to retirement. This family had a very nice home, the newest cars and their kids heavily involved in extracurriculars. Any parent knows that costs money. I remember the look of conflict on his face, his desire to find happiness at war with the weight of his obligations.

The whole of our exchange only lasted a few minutes, but the memory stayed with me.

I recently ran across the term dharma in a random read. I’ve seen it before, but didn’t fully understand its meaning so I searched further. Dharma is defined as one’s duty in life, the end goal, finding highest happiness. Karma, on the flip side, is how you get there. What you choose to do, your karma, is energy you send out into the world and what you send out comes back to you.

Money, affluence, the obtaining of things – this has become central to our culture. People are climbing ladders, making deals, buying the bigger house or the newer car. But does it bring true happiness?

Anytime I’ve let money drive my choices, it never worked out well – at least not how I originally envisioned. I do the work and get the pay, but usually at a price higher than anything I gain. Profit is lost due to physical, mental or emotional stress. I end up drained and depleted, my well run dry.

Don’t get me wrong – I love getting paid. Money is necessary to live in this world. But I believe it’s possible to do work I love and get paid well for it. I often say I was called to serve, but I was never meant to be a martyr, though I lived as one for many years. I am letting go of the belief of being undeserving. I am releasing the guilt and opening my arms wide for abundance to enter my life. I want to love my work, to live each day helping others create their best life, for vacations to be gravy on an already fulfilling life instead of an escape. I want to look forward to Mondays, not dread them. And I believe it’s possible.

Often attributed to fortune cookies, an anonymous quote states, “If you continually give, you will continually have.” I believe this. If you release good into the world, it will come back to you. But you must first believe you deserve good and receive it with gratitude. Like a drop in water creates a ripple that flows outward, your actions affect more than just you. You can expand or contract. Choose love or fear. Joy or hate.

Each moment is a choice. No matter what has happened in your life up to this point, you can choose to make whatever you want of this moment. You can choose to keep walking the path you’re on, but…are you happy?

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