Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Way to Be Happy

Image by Phalinn Ooi

Even in religious education one doesn’t always get the answer they expect. In order to teach compassion, one teacher began her class with the question: “What would you do if you were walking along a road and saw a person who was terribly beaten and bruised and covered with blood?” 

In a moment of honesty, a little girl replied, “I'd probably throw up.”

There are many professions I should leave alone. I have neither the constitution nor the aptitude for them. And one of those occupations is nursing. Like the little girl, I might seriously embarrass myself. But I deeply admire those compassionate women and men who labor in the nursing profession.

Some years ago, a six-year-old boy from Corvallis, Oregon (United States) suffered burns over 85% of his body. His condition was so severe that several doctors gave up and one hospital would not admit him because they thought he would die anyway.

His life was saved, however, by eight courageous and committed people – his parents, three nurses and three doctors. The nurses emerged as the true heroines in this real-life drama. After other nurses had quit, these women took eight-hour shifts with the boy, seeing him through skin grafts, operations, crucial periods in which death almost gained victory, and dull, dragging days of rehabilitation. The boy grew to dislike them, as he innocently thought they caused his intense pain.

His room was like a dungeon. It measured 12 feet by 12 feet. The door was tightly shut, shades were drawn, heat blazed from a gooseneck lamp shining as a substitute for blankets. The humidity was so high the walls dripped with moisture, and dank air smelled of burned flesh and chlorine-soaked dressings.

The nurses stayed with him, dressed in caps, gowns, masks and gloves as if they were assisting an operation. Within an hour they would be soaked with perspiration. For 14 desperately long months these dedicated three gave their all to the ailing boy. Then, one day, he finally climbed from his bed and walked.

It was a great day! The nurses were rewarded for their tireless effort. The lives of all three were so deepened and their sense of satisfaction so great after fighting off the temptation to quit for 14 months, that each said they’d put forth the effort again.

What caused them to feel so satisfied? I think it was more than simply the fact that the boy lived. Together they attempted something nearly impossible, but also truly worthwhile. They poured their lives out for the sake of someone else.

It is like something American educator Booker T. Washington once said: “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.” What these nurses did was significant. They worked hard and they worked selflessly. And in doing so, they found contentment.

Do you want to be happier?

Don't pray for blessings; pray for important work to do.
Don't pray for prestige; pray for a place to serve.
Don't pray for more things to use; pray to become more useful.
Don't pray for greater pleasure; pray for greater purpose.
Don't pray for an easier path; pray for joy on the journey, wherever it leads.

If you do, I believe your prayers will be answered.

-- Steve Goodier


Carol Round said...

Thank you for today's message, Steve. I loved it!! Life is all about serving others. That's true contentment and happiness, isn't it?

Carol Round

Maggie said...

I especially love your poem about what to pray for... may I post it on Facebook, with attribution of course?

Maggie York

Steve Goodier said...

Maggie, you may post any part of the article. Thanks for the attribution, and thanks for asking.

Loren Gelberg-Goff said...

Your messages, as always, hit home. I thank you for bringing a clear and direct perspective to life's challenges and how to face them. Thank you! Loren

Steve Goodier said...

Loren, I appreciate the comment and I respect your work in this field, too. Readers should check out your site -