Thursday, February 18, 2016

Living Happy #8: Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously

We all know that guy.  The guy that corrects you when you introduce him--has to make sure you get his title straight.  He's the guy that when you're making a point, you know he's not listening because he's thinking about what he's going to say next.  The guy that's constantly reminding you of his accomplishments and his pedigree.  He's the guy that's first to point out his success and the last to congratulate you on yours.  He's the guy that gets upset when somebody else is recognized for their effort or accomplishments.  He's not above taking a few unfair shots at others when he doesn't feel he's getting the attention he deserves--which is ALL the attention.

Ten years ago, I joined the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville.  It was only a few months after I became a Master Mason.  I only knew a couple people, and was a little nervous when I pulled up to the four story sandstone edifice of the Valley of Danville Temple.  I was told to go to the second floor when I arrived, so I got on the elevator with this huge bald-headed guy--he's probably 6'4" or 6'5".  He's not paying any attention to me.  Never says anything to me or even looks at me.  He's reading something.  The doors open on the second floor.  The second floor is a huge lounge, and it was full of Scottish Rite Masons waiting for the weekend festivities to begin.

I started to step out, and this guy steps out first, waving his hand in front of his face.  "What did you eat for lunch!" his voice boomed as he strode across the lounge.  Everyone turns around and looks at me and erupts into laughter.  The Valley Secretary walked up to me and said, "I see you met Bill Hussey."  And that's how I was first introduced to the members of the Valley of Danville.

To my absolute shock, I saw him later, and he was wearing a white cap--an unmistakable indication that this clown I'd met in the elevator had been awarded the fraternity's highest honor.  The 33rd Degree.  What started that day when I met the Illustrious Brother William J. Hussey, Jr. 33 was an endless exchange of practical jokes, accusations, and insults that have entertained members of the Valley of Danville and amused people on Facebook for a decade.  While Hussey doesn't take himself too seriously, he does take Freemasonry seriously, and his work has benefited the Fraternity in ways that would be difficult to calculate.  He does what he does because he loves it--and honors and accolades he never sought have followed.

I learned from Hussey that I could just be myself as a Freemason.  And I have been.  I set about doing what I had a passion to do--writing about Freemasonry.  Ten years later, I'm still doing that.  Believe it or not, because of all that research and writing, the books, the magazine articles, the papers, the blog posts, etc. THIS clown received a white hat, too!  That's right, the Valley of Danville has two white-capped clowns.  I believe when that happened, Hussey's comment was, "well the standards aren't what they used to be." That's typical.

People that take themselves too seriously are typically unhappy--because they are always disappointed that others don't see them as they see themselves.  No amount of praise or congratulations is enough for them.  They are always looking for more, so everything they do has a motive--to glorify themselves.

They aren't very likeable so nobody really goes out of their way for them.  If they do make it to the top, they've thrown up this huge wall between themselves and other people, so they have nobody to share that success with.  You've heard the expression "nice guys get ahead."  That's true.  When given a choice, people prefer people who are down-to-earth.  And people go out of their way to help somebody they like, so when it comes time for that promotion, or that bonus, or that award . . . who do you think gets it?  It's the guy everyone enjoys being around, the one that isn't expecting anything in return for his efforts besides the satisfaction of a job well done.

Have a look in the mirror.  As it's been said, pride goeth before a fall.  If you want to be happy, you're going to have to drop that pretense.  Get real.  Find something you're passionate about, and do it just for the sheer joy of doing it.  Not for awards.  Not for praise.  Not for promotion.  Not for attention.  Check that giant ego at the door, roll up your sleeves, get down from your pedestal, and join the rest of us.  The game is much more fun when you're part of a team.

~Todd E. Creason

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