There is a danger that a lack of belief in the feasibility of achieving happiness at work could lead to us giving up on happiness as a goal in life in general and settling for an impoverished life. The Thank God it’s Friday (TGIF) mentality, living for and during the weekends only, is very common and accepted. Work is work and has to be done and in many cases suffered. As a result, lives can get frittered away looking forward to weekends and vacations and even retirement, based on a mindset that work is not meant to be good or enjoyable. People spend no less than 50 per cent of their lives at work and to ‘settle for’ such a large percentage of life being unhappy or even ‘just OK’ is truly serious and sad.
I read recently that in some countries to smile at a stranger in the street can lead to being arrested for being drunk and disorderly. About a month ago, I was driving down the Fairyhouse Road in Ratoath in Ireland, where I live. It was mid- afternoon. As I drove, I noticed a man walking along the footpath, with a huge smile on his face, laughing to himself. I said to myself: ‘He must be a bit odd or a little mad!’ All around were very serious people, sporting frowns and really grim faces. Then it hit me – I had no difﬁculty accepting all the worried and very serious people but a person publicly displaying happiness and joy seemed very strange and odd to me. How sad!
It reminded me of a song by the Catalan singer, Joan Manuel Serrat, called ‘There’s a Man in My Street Who Has a Friend Who Says He Knows Someone Who One Day Was Happy.’5 Serrat’s song deals with this same tragedy that happiness is the exception or unusual, and is not to be expected.
I purport that happiness is not something exceptional and unusual, but it is the norm. Even more, I believe that work is actually the key to our happiness if it is handled and managed well.