When The Wind Blows
Years ago a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast. He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic. They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc(肆虐) on the buildings and crops. As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals.
Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer. "Are you a good farmhand?" the farmer asked him.
"Well, I can sleep when the wind blows," answered the little man.
Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him. The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man's work.
Then one night the wind howled(嚎叫，咆哮) loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand's sleeping quarters. He shook the little man and yelled, "Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!"
The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, "No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows."
Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins(防水油布). The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops(笼子), and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away.
The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew.
MORAL: When you're prepared, spiritually, mentally, and physically, you have nothing to fear.
Can you sleep when the wind blows through your life? The hired hand in the story was able to sleep because he had secured the farm against the storm.
The Art of Bouncing Back
I think the center of my faith is an absolute certainty of good. Like everyone else, I get low and there are times when I feel as if I have my fins backwards and am swimming upstream in heavy boots. But even in these dark times, even though I feel cut off, perhaps, and alone, I am aware - even if distantly - that I am part of a whole and that the whole is true and real and good.
I have never had any difficultly in believing in God. I don't believe in a personal God and I don't quite see how it is possible to believe in a God who knows both good and evil and yet to trust in him. I believe in God, Good, in One Mind, and I believe we are all subject to and part of this oneness.
It's taken me time to understand words like "tolerance" and "understanding." I have given lip service to "tolerance" and to "understanding" for years but only now do I think I begin to understand a little what they mean. If we are all one of another, and this, though uncomfortably, is probably the case, then sooner or later we have got to come to terms with each other. I believe in the individuality of man, and it is only by individual experience that we can, any of us, make a contribution to understanding.
I've always been a bit confused about self and egotism(自负) because I instinctively felt both were barriers to understanding. And so in a sense they are.
I used to worry a lot about personality and that sort of egotism. I noticed that certain artists - musicians, for instance - would allow their personalities to get between the music and the listener. But others, greater and therefore humbler, became clear channels through which the music was heard unimpeded(畅通无阻的). And it occurred to me, not very originally, that the good we know in man is from God so it is a good thing to try to keep oneself as clear as possible from the wrong sort of self. And it's not very easy, particularly if you are on the stage!
I am one of those naturally happy people even when they get low soon bounce back. In minor things like housekeeping and keeping in sight of letters to be answered I am a Planny-Annie. That is to say I get through the chores in order to enjoy the space beyond. But I do find that, believing in the operation of good as I do, I cannot make plans - important ones, I mean - but I must prepare the ground and then leave the way free as far as possible. This, of course, means being fearless and isn't fatalistic, because you see I believe that when I am faithful enough to be still and to allow things to happen serenely, they do. And this being still isn't a negative state but an awareness of one's true position.
Friends are the most important things in my life - that and the wonder of being necessary to someone. But these things pass and in end one is alone with God. I'm not nearly ready for that yet, but I do see it with my heart's eye.
I don't understand it entirely, but I believe there is only now and our job is to recognize and rejoice in this now. Now... Not, of course, the man-measured now of Monday, Friday, or whenever, but the now of certain truth. That doesn't change. Surely everything has been done - is done. Our little problem is to reveal and enjoy.
1. Don't worry about making your dreams come true
College graduates are often told: "follow your passion," do "what you love," what you were "meant to do," or "make your dreams come true." Two-thirds think they're going find a job that allows them to change the world, half within five years. Yikes.
This sets young people up to fail. The truth is that the vast majority of us will not be employed in a job that is both our lifelong passion and a world-changer; that's just not the way our global economy is. So it's ok to set your sights just a tad below occupational ecstasy. Just find a job that you like. Use that job to help you have a full life with lots of good things and pleasure and helping others and stuff. A great life is pretty good, even if it's not perfect.
2. Make friends
Americans put far too much emphasis on finding Mr. or Ms. Right and getting married. We think this will bring us happiness. In fact, however, both psychological well-being and health are more strongly related to friendship. If you have good friends, you'll be less likely to get the common cold, less likely to die from cancer, recover better from the loss of a spouse, and keep your mental acuity as you age. You'll also feel more capable of facing life's challenges, be less likely to feed depressed or commit suicide, and be happier in old age. Having happy friends increases your chance of being happy as much as an extra $145,500 a year does. So, make friends!
3. Don't worry about being single
Single people, especially women, are stigmatized(污辱，指责) in our society: we're all familiar with the image of a sad, lonely woman eating ice cream with her cats in her pajamas(睡衣) on Saturday night. But about 45 percent of US adults aren't married and around one in seven lives alone.
This might be you. Research shows that young people's expectations about their marital status (e.g., the desire to be married by 30 and have kids by 32) have little or no relationship to what actually happens to people. So, go with the flow.
And, if you're single, you're in good company. Single people spend more time with friends, volunteer more, and are more involved in their communities than married people. Never-married and divorced women are happier, on average, than married women. So, don't buy into the myth of the miserable singleton(独身).
4. Don't take your ideas about gender and marriage too seriously
If you do get married, keep going with the flow. Relationship satisfaction, financial security, and happy kids are more strongly related to flexibility in the face of life's challenges than any particular way of organizing families. The most functional families are ones that can bend. So partnering with someone who thinks that one partner should support their families and the other should take responsibility for the house and children is a recipe for disaster. So is being equally rigid about non-traditional divisions of labor. It's okay to have ideas about how to organize your family but your best bet for happiness is to be flexible.
5. Think hard about whether to buy a house
Our current image of the American Dream revolves around homeownership, and buying a home is often taken for granted as a stage on the path to full-fledge adulthood. But the ideal of universal home ownership was born in the 1950s. It's a rather new idea.
With such a short history, it's funny that people often insist that buying a house is a fool-proof investment and the best way to secure retirement. In fact, buying a house may not be the best choice for you. The mortgage may be less than rent, but there are also taxes, insurance, and the increasingly common Home Owners Association (HOA) fees. You may someday sell the house for more than you bought it but, if you paid interest on a mortgage, you also paid far more than the sale price. You have freedom from a landlord, but may discover your HOA is just as controlling, or worse. And then there's the headache: renting relieves you from the stress of being responsible for repairs. It also offers a freedom of movement that you might cherish.
So, think carefully about whether buying or renting is a better fit for your finances, lifestyle, and future goals.
6. Think even harder about having kids
One father had this to say about children: "They're a huge source of joy, but they turn every other source of joy to shit." In fact, having children correlates with both an increased sense of purpose in life and a long-lasting decrease in individual and marital happiness. Having kids means spending a lot of your short life and limited income on one source of joy. You have only so much time and money and there are lots of ways to find satisfaction, pleasure, and meaning in this life. Consider all your options.