A recently released study by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center suggests that those who help others are most satisfied in their professions (see "Workers who help others report most happiness" Monitor, April 17).
Clergy and firefighters topped the list as the most satisfied in their professions, while roofers, unhappily, were at the bottom.
How to find satisfaction is an age-old question. Not all of us are cut out to be members of the clergy or firefighters. But we all – including roofers! – are entitled to happiness.
In my quest for satisfaction, I've found that it's not what I can get from my job but what I can bring to it that matters most. I've held a variety of positions ranging from cook, cashier, and paper carrier to mom, teacher, and spiritual caregiver.
Not so long ago, I took on a paper route for economic reasons. As I prayed, I glimpsed that this was actually an opportunity to love God more by loving my fellowman. I decided to see it as delivering "good" news by making sure I did it well. I strove for precision in everything – neatly folded papers carefully stuffed into plastic sleeves precisely placed on the right doorsteps by the prescribed time.
As my focus changed from "poor me" to loving God through precision, the heaviness of the papers and the dismalness of the early hours ceased to be factors. Satisfaction came from knowing the job was well done. Happiness derived from appreciating the unique perks – sparkling Venus in the velvet black sky, the squeaking crunch of snow underfoot, and comments from extremely pleased customers.
Right where we are now, no matter what condition we find ourselves in, satisfaction can be ours as children of the one all-loving and compassionate God. Looking to God, Soul, has helped me understand that satisfaction and happiness are accessible and demonstrable, regardless of occupation or circumstance.
God loves us and has made us to love Him and one another. Getting to know Soul better and trying to better understand everyone's indestructible connection with the source of all satisfaction and happiness has been and is deeply rewarding.
Jesus had a clear grasp of everyone's relation to God. His love for individuals in every walk of life exemplified God's love for each of His children. As Jesus went about the countryside teaching and healing, he gave the very best example of caring for others. He instructed people to love God supremely and to love their neighbors as themselves.
As I've endeavored to follow this teaching, I've come to see that loving God is more than feeling an emotional closeness. It's being willing to listen closely for how He would have me act and then to be obedient to that direction. In turn, it becomes clear how to love my neighbor – colleagues, family members, and clients.
As a teacher, the opportunities to love and to be kind, gentle, and patient were endless. Now, in my spiritual ministry, I bring all these satisfying traits, and more, to bear each day.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul" (p. 60).
Obedience to Soul's demands, whether we are doctors, lawyers, paper carriers, receptionists, or roofers, aligns us with God, the source of real satisfaction, and opens the "windows of heaven" that we may receive the blessings He bestows – including happiness and satisfaction.