Better to Put on a Happy Face?

Is it best to tell the truth (such as one discerns it to be) or is it better to put on a ‘Happy Face’?  Given the way things seem to be happening all over the place, including our individual lives, it is hard to know the answer to that, as we are each struggling with our own conditioning and foibles.

Recently I was happy to stretch myself in order to do a little job to help me get through the month until my main job starts up again.  It entails driving about 90 miles one-way, spending the night at a friend’s home, then getting up at 4:00 a.m. and

driving another half hour to be on the job by 6:45 a.m.  I am letting go my entire weekend in order to do this.  Once at the assisted living place, I cook three meals for the fourteen residents, which entails being on my feet for eleven hours straight, unless I force myself to take a couple of 10-15-minute breaks somewhere along the line.  I have now succeeded in working three weekends and already am wondering if this is truly, what I need to do.

The fellow who hired me seemed like a decent sort.  It seemed as though we had a good connection, and that communication would not be a problem.  Wrong.  Due to my dislike of being told one thing, and then having it contradicted a few days later, I waver between taking it personally and shrugging it off.  The man now comes across as though he would like to make me feel incompetent, as he always has some sort of criticism to lay on me.  I take it in stride, try to do better, and am relieved when he does not come to the kitchen to look over my shoulder and make unhelpful comments.  Now I find I dread having to talk to him at all, but to do the job, I must.  The feeling is probably mutual.

It is the classic ‘push-pull’ that seems to always come about within the male-female exchange, be it father-daughter, husband-wife, lover-lover, brother-sister relationships.
In this case, it is the younger ‘boss’ and the older, very experienced, good cook, who loves preparing food for any appreciative eater.

I know myself well enough to know how much I despise a man telling me what to do, who gives me no credit for knowing what I am doing.  I do not want to label the man a jerk, but he comes across as one.  I do not wish to react to his jibes, but I am not a rock.  The joy I experience cooking for the elderly when I get feedback from them that “that was good!” somewhat dies when the ‘boss’ tells me, “You are making this too complicated!  They will not remember what they ate the next day, and as far as it being “good for them,” it does not matter.  They are OLD, and all that matters is that you feed them SOMETHING.  Keep it simple!”

In my attempt to rise above my disgruntled feelings, I ask myself, “Why did I set myself up for this kind of interaction?  What is it I need to learn from this?”  What is now becoming obvious to me is that I must never speak how I truly feel and must instead, put on a Happy Face and just keep going.  Otherwise, if the dynamic of “push-pull” keeps on happening, I will step away, quit, and feel defeated, once again.  Clearly, when dealing with a man who wishes to dominate, I need not give him the power to kill what little joy I have when I “do” for others.  I think about the rest of the world, how little compassion and consideration is afforded others on the part of those unhappy in their lives.  Am I also one of these, so unhappy with my life that I wish to blame others for it?  I would prefer to see myself as one who has learned compassion, who can transcend somebody’s need to control, out of one’s own feelings of insecurity.  Staying aware and calm, peaceful in my heart is a challenge.  I sometimes feel the urge to react with a curse, to throw something, to slap the man, and this, I know, solves nothing.  I have to bite my tongue, keep as professional a demeanor as possible, and keep moving.  I have a job to do.  I agreed to do it.  I have to give myself the credit where credit is due, and know that I am doing the best that I can.

There is a book in print, by Don Miguel Ruiz, called The Four Agreements.  I do not have a copy of it, but I have read it.  In it, Ruiz suggests that if people would just try to practice these four agreements, we would discover change happening within our relationships.  The four agreements are:

1- “Be impeccable with your word.  Speak with integrity.  Say only what you mean.
Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.
Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”

2- “Don’t take anything personally.  Nothing others do is because of you.
What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.
When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim
of needless suffering.”

3- “Don’t make assumptions.  Find the courage to ask questions and to express                 what you really want.  Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.  With just this one agreement,
you can completely transform your life.”

4- “Always do your best.  Your best is going to change from moment to moment;
it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.  Under any                        circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-
abuse, and regret.”

I found these words on the inside flap of the book by Ruiz, The Four Agreements Companion Book, copyright 2000 by Miguel Ruiz, M.D. and Janet Mills.  Published by Amber-Allen Publishing, Inc. Post Office Box 6657,  San Rafael, California  94903.

I think I will hand print these agreements onto a sturdy note card and carry the card in my pocket to read a couple of times a day whilst on the job.  I need to remind myself of that which is important, and not succumb to old patterns built insidiously into my psyche.  My life is for not that much longer, and I wish to live the rest of my days as free as possible of perverted thought and reaction.  There is no doubt in my being that the Four Agreements are completely relevant, as well as helpful.

It is a lovely spring day here in these hills.  My body has recovered somewhat from the stress of last weekend.  Today I can go dig in the garden and prepare the spots wherein I shall plant the tomato seedlings, once they are tall enough.  I woke up this morning seeing in my mind’s eye where I might plant yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and corn.  This year will be less intense, my working in the garden.  Instead, I will focus on keeping the jobs I have, as I am ready to be finished with being in debt.  I will mulch everything and hope for the best.  Simultaneously, I will remember all for which I am grateful, and will not have to lie or put on a false Happy Face.  When I wear it, may my Happy Face be genuine.

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