Sustenance for The Spirit

The other night I was watching a movie, staying up later than I should. I have always been a night owl, so late night movie watching is a normal, at least once-a-week vice. The movie was cute, in the usual romantic comedy sort of way, and I had settled in to the story, deciding that even if I had seen it before it seemed worth another viewing. As the movie was subduing me completely, one of the main characters said something rather simple, but very astute. The successful advertising executive character said, “Real happiness is bad for sales.” I had to write that down.

I work part-time at a florist, and sales is a part of my job. My job description includes everything from dusting to answering the phone to occasionally helping with minor design work. It is varied to say the least, and I enjoy the diversity. I love a job where I never know exactly what I will be doing from one day to the next. The sales part of the job has probably been the most challenging for me. I have a tendency to be totally honest. I’m learning I don’t have to point out the “cons” to the potential customer, and I try to not allow my poker face to shine too brightly in those moments. Fortunately, I work in a great setting with great product (seriously…I’m being very honest and am not saying that just to stay in good graces with my boss) so it’s not like I have to lie to people to sell things. However, there are times when we are encouraged to sell more of certain things and I struggle with the idea that I’m trying to make someone feel “happier” by owning something they didn’t know they wanted in the first place. Sometimes people need guidance in purchasing gifts, and I’m certainly willing to help them, but if someone is vulnerable, I don’t want to take advantage, which makes me, in the sales world, not the best. I’m working on it with an honest, sensitive approach. Happiness and sales are not necessarily in the same galaxy.

I think of how often we seek to be satisfied by a purchase, a friendship, an activity, a hobby or inclusion in a group, only to be disappointed and continue our search with more purchases, friendships, activities, and the cycle continues. Our discount culture doesn’t tell us “no” but instead, we expect our wants and desires to be for things that are out there somewhere. We need only to locate the desired “thing” in the right online resource or store, and if our luck is good it could be discounted. Consumerism in our culture is sales in overdrive. We have high expectations when it comes to acquisitions. Since disappointment is based in unmet expectations, it is no surprise that happiness is an ever-elusive target.

Is happiness bad for sales? When we become satisfied, are we finally truly happy? I think so. That is my take on the movie quote I referenced, from a depressed ad executive smoking a cigarette while sitting on the roof of his office building. He was far from happy, far from satisfied with life, and he was building a life on selling a temporary form of happiness, not the real thing. In the movie, he finds real happiness when he admits to and accepts priorities like meaning in relationships and honesty in life’s real struggles. Go figure. If life were only like the movies. (sigh)

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon says that God has made both sadness and happiness (Ecclesiastes 7:14) and in Ecclesiastes 3 after stating that “There is a time for everything,” in verse four he continues, “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” (NIV) Being happy and joyful is a gifted part of life. We can enjoy happiness in our lives, but any real happiness, being completely satisfied, can only derive from a deep goodness that is within our beings, regardless of the rough and difficult times, or disappointments we may be experiencing. Candace Payne, author and teacher, includes this scripture at the very beginning of her book, Simple Joys, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11, NIV) Candace talks and writes about joy and happiness, how we can have both. This is real life down-to-earth happiness, not sales invoked, but choice driven.

Choosing to live an honesty-filled commitment to the God that is love, is happiness. We can never have disappointment with that brand of happiness in our hearts. It’s easy to get side-tracked by a sales pitch, so let’s look to scripture, encourage one another, converse with our Lord in prayer and step out with lifted lives. Let’s try not to get sucked into focus on the unfilled and dissatisfaction we may feel from people and circumstances on this earth. It’s easy to do, because sales are built on our desires, which have some basis in expectations. That’s when we’re in scary territory and need to find our way back to the real inner happiness of the spiritual. It seems to boil down to that old conflict between the flesh and spirit. Sales is flesh and happiness is spirit. I think I have to agree…”Real happiness is bad for sales.” Have a wonderful day!

A skeptical baby boomer, a Christian woman with a desire to share honest messages from a heart shaped in a life of stability, yet facing a world on the edge.