The Crater of Unhappiness

Not everyone is able to lift themselves up out of their unhappy work-lives. We got to help them out.

Many years ago, during a trip through the USA, a friend and I visited Meteor Crater, a giant crater left behind by a meteorite. At the bottom of the crater, there are some remains of a small airplane. We were told that, many years ago, the plane had unintentionally flown into the space contained within the crater, and was then unable to get out. It circled and circled, trying to catch air currents that appeared to be too thin to lift the plane out of the big hole in the ground. The small aircraft apparently also did not have the power to get out by itself. It crashed. Fortunately, the people in it survived, though badly injured.

I remembered this little story recently, when I was feeling unhappy. A small, irrelevant issue had nudged me from my standard level of mild contentment into my own Crater of Unhappiness. Obviously, I didn’t want to be there, so I tried to get out. For an entire afternoon, I tried various things to make myself happy again. “Snap out it, Jurgen!” I told myself. “You’re only doing this to yourself. Happiness is a choice, so choose to be happy again. Now!” Sadly, none of my efforts worked. I circled and circled, but my mind lacked the power to lift me up. And there weren’t many uplifting activities either.

Ultimately, it was my spouse who helped me. The nudge to get me out of the Crater of Unhappiness was even smaller than the shove that pushed me in. Nevertheless, the helping hand was very welcome. And the experience of self-inflicted helplessness left me amazed. How easy it is to get caught in endless circling!

I now feel even more committed to offer my own helping hand to people who feel unhappy in their work-lives. It’s not enough to expect them to climb out of bad working environments all by themselves. If we all give them a nudge upwards, they may be able to escape their own Crater of Unhappiness. Let’s not see people crash.

Join us at Happy Melly if this means something to you.

image: (c) 2013 Graeme Maclean, Creative Commons 2.0


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  • Patrick Verdonk

    Thanks for writing this Jurgen. I’m facing such situation at work (and am trying to build my plane to get out of that crater), thus this does mean a lot to me. And yes, I recently joined Happy Melly…

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