(Note: A downloadable PDF copy of this lesson is available on the last page.)
WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE ALWAYS HAPPY?
A line of research concerning a group of young people called “indestructibles” was reported recently in a leading psychological journal.
These indestructibles lived under extreme poverty, and came from very bad home conditions which were located in slum neighborhoods.
Yet, they were well adjusted and good students.
The researchers wondered if we haven’t erred in the past by studying maladjusted people in order to draw conclusions about good self-images. Why not study well-adjusted people instead?
That question got me to thinking of some people I’ve met in my life who fit the description of indestructibles.
It is true that we cannot prevent troublesome or sorrowful events from intruding into our lives. But some people live heartily, joyfully and considerately one day at a time. They rely on their power of choice, whether their problems are solved today or not.
PHYLLIS AND JIM AREN’T WORRIED
I recently saw Phyllis and Jim weather a storm that would destroy most people.
They had been married sixteen years, and had three children–ages fifteen, thirteen, and ten. The family often did things together…hiking, playing tennis, boating, attending church, entertaining friends, skiing.
In the home, Phyllis had her duties and Jim had his. She was proud of his progress on his job and his civic and church activities.
He admired the way she kept the house, managed the family, and got along with her friends.
THEN IT HAPPENED
Then, without any advance warning, the company Jim worked for suddenly ceased operating.
Just…sudden unemployment…at a time when they were building a new house. Yet, there was no panic.
Phyllis trimmed the food budget, and reassured Jim that she was trusting God to help them in this crisis.
They prayed together and patiently waited as Jim looked for another job. They used his free time for family fun–inexpensive activities, of course.
They went on picnics in the park, hiked over trails, played tennis at the public courts, went bicycling.
Jim reassured Phyllis that he wasn’t afraid–or worried. His faith was in God, and he was enjoying this time of watching an uncertain future unravel.
In a few months, he found another job.
Phyllis and Jim look back on that period as one of the best of their lives.
They are among the indestructibles. They had a faith and hope that enabled them to live above their depressing circumstances.
Now, meet another indestructible.
MEMORIES OF A DITCH DIGGER
He was one of our next-door neighbors when I was a teenager. It was during those turbulent years between 1930 and 1933–-the height of the Depression.
People by the droves were out of work; they were losing their life savings as a result of bank failures and were being evicted from their homes. Suicides were frequent. Nervous breakdowns were common.
Strangely enough, the depression years were happy, positive, relaxed ones for me, partially because of that next-door neighbor.
He was a highly skilled (and highly paid) tool-and-die maker. Suddenly, he was without a job or a paycheck.
The best he could do was get a job with the WPA, a governmental agency which gave menial jobs to as many people as possible.
His assignment: dig ditches.
WE WERE SHOCKED
This seemed a terrible thing to me. Imagine this top-flight craftsman digging ditches!
Without complaining, he went to his job every day. At night he returned, his attitude as positive as if he had his old job.
We had a big front porch on our house, and many nights the people from the neighborhood would gather on our porch. This man was one of them.
One night he got to talking enthusiastically about the fine art of digging ditches and how he was enjoying the opportunity of working outdoors and using his strength to accomplish a task.
“I’ve never felt better in my life,” he commented.