By Jack Cumming

Have you ever taken a cruise? Most cruise workers have nationality outside the United States. Their working conditions are much less regulated than are ours. They work many hours a day, and they work seven days a week with no days off. Technical terms like “PTO” are unknown at sea.

The Cruise Life

Cruise workers are far away from their families. Yet, they seem to be happy. Even when pressed by passengers trying to get to their true feelings, cruise ship workers are, almost without exception, happy to be where they are, and they delight in the idiosyncrasies of the passengers. How can that be?

This is being written while on a cruise, so the observations are here right at hand. Our cabin steward, who has to perform the most menial of tasks, loves his work. He’s been at sea for the past 12 years. He has a 10-month contract. He works on the ships without a single day off for 10 months, after which he has two months at home.

His wife and family have an elevated status in the country where they live. The country will remain unnamed here to avoid associations that one might have with the government there. As it is, the government is not friendly toward that of the United States. Still, the people are friendly toward Americans. Our steward is an example.

The Joy of Senior Living

Thinking of senior living, we all know of employees who are similarly always happy. We also know of others who are never happy. Some employees believe a union can give them benefits withheld by rapacious management.

Others are just happy to have a job. They want no animosity toward the employer who pays their livelihood. One has to wonder why there is a higher percentage of discontent among senior living workers than among those who work so hard on cruise ships.

The answer, as far as this author can discern, lies in the individual. The cruise ship workers are doing something they take pride in. Many love that they can support a small family business back home, to which they look forward to retiring.

Can you find that same resilience in yourself? Of course, you can. If you start talking positively, even when your thoughts are dark, you’ll soon find your thinking following your talking. You’ll be happy. And, you’ll make others happier, too.

Choose Your Happy Self

It’s up to each and every one of us to decide whether to be happy or unhappy. If you find yourself complaining and feeling disadvantaged, take action to create a better situation. If you can, that’s wonderful; move on, and never look back. If you can’t, then perhaps your situation isn’t the source of your unhappiness. Most likely what you have is, instead, your unseen blessing. Let the scales fall from your eyes so that you can behold the joy that is your work.

Realize the buzz for which you work — it might be the paycheck, but in senior living, it’s likely more, much more. Think of the residents whom you lift up even if they don’t know of all that you do for them. Feel the happiness that comes from doing something to make the lives of others better. There is no greater good than that one gives of themselves for another.

Be joyful. You have much to celebrate.