Clarity In The Cleaning

Finding Out That Happiness Can Be A Choice

I know you are going to find this hard to believe, but there have been many times in my life when I have not been as happy as I could be. Life, as I’m sure you know, gets “lifey”; things happen for all of us whether it’s divorce, dead-end jobs or difficult dealings. It’s unfortunate that so many of these external factors wind up impacting our happiness. 

Looking back on it now with the mental clarity that comes with taking space for reflection, life’s external factors always seemed to control my moods and mindset. At the time I may not have realized it but now I can say that  the problem wasn’t necessarily what was going on around me but within me. 

“People are just about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
— Abraham Lincoln

In my own home hangs one of those old timey wooden plaques with Lincoln’s wise words. And yet, for years it sat dust gathering, overlooked and ignored. Wisdom was right there smacking me in the face and I was — not so blissful — but totally unaware. Happiness, believe it or not, can be a choice. Over the years I’ve worked in a variety of settings, some more “professional” or mentally taxing than others which were arguably as challenging in terms of physical labor. And yet it wasn’t until I was finally at my end – having left a long-time comfortable career –  and settled into a part-time job cleaning houses that I started to see the light. 

It dawned on me, rather suddenly as I stood scrubbing down a client’s bathroom sink: “You know what? I’m happy!” For the first time in a long time I was content to just be living in that moment — mindful of the task at hand — but, all the same happy to be of service to someone who would appreciate the help. What’s more, I was grateful, and that made all the difference. 

Cleaning is a practical profession. At the time of my bathroom cleaning epiphany I had only been working for the A la Maid cleaning team for a few months prior. I had abandoned a mentally stressful line of work for a physically demanding but ultimately more satisfying situation doing part-time cleaning. In that peaceful moment in our client’s master bathroom, I realized that I was free; finally free to decide for myself whether or not to be happy. 

Although I can’t deny a certain amount of initial self-shaming at the fact that I had put six years of my schooling (at least temporarily) to waste, I do believe the end will eventually justify the means. I was no longer shackled to an obligatory career path that would never bring me joy. Instead, I found myself grateful for the opportunities I envisioned before me – possibilities I hadn’t been able to imagine before. I had been stuck with tunnel vision letting life take me along for the ride. 

We all go through transitions in life, some more difficult to deal with than others. A career change is just one of these challenges, but how we handle ourselves and react to these transitions is what makes or breaks us. Life coach Mike Bayer describes this experience in his book Best Self: Be You Only Better. A recovered addict, Bayer experienced life’s ups and downs — like career changes, homelessness and his family abandoning him at one point – in a major way.

Finding yourself unemployed or between jobs, he says, is a valuable experience if we are open and willing to take the lessons that these tough times bring. 

“No job is ‘beneath you,’ — a belief like that comes purely from ego,” Bayer explains. “Don’t let your ego get in the way of your ability to be your best self and find your perfect career. True happiness down the line  will be worth the struggle.” 

He goes on to make  an excellent observation that resonates with me personally as I now find myself working as a social media content writer for the very company I’d started with cleaning bathrooms. As Bayer again explains,

“You might even be surprised at the incredible contacts you can make at one of those entry-level jobs. “You just never know what awesome opportunities might be knocking at your front door — I certainly can attest to that. 

So while I still may not know for certain what I want to be when I grow up, it’s okay. Life is movement, change and that may include some tough transitions but there is also choice involved. The future is open — you can decide! I don’t know about you, but I decide to be happy. 

From Here To Happy

Positive Affirmations and Words of Wisdom to Guide You on Your Personal Journey

  • Avoid “if-only” thinking. Psychological studies have shown that putting all of your energy into a certain outcome isn’t always healthy and may not make you happy even when you do obtain to achieve the think you’ve set out to. Remember the adage “be careful what you wish for,” right? Anyway, many years from now, what will you look back on as truly bringing you happiness?
  • Positive Self Talk Goes a Long Way in the Happiness Department: This is proven to be motivating and helps boost performance in achieving goals. 

When in doubt, try one of these positive statements out!

  • I can handle this — I got this!
  • I don’t need to prove myself to anyone.
  • You are better than you think you are.
  • The future is open, I can decide. That’s the way it is. Be it so!
  • I am the story I tell myself I am. I’ll do the things I tell myself I can.

Along the same lines, try meditation or a morning mantra. If it helps, repeat as you prepare for the day or relax each evening. If you are of a spiritual disposition, it might be similar to Bayer’s morning mantra:

“The universe has a plan. Let go. Be Yourself. You’re where you’re supposed to be.”