Currently I am reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In a nutshell the author spends a year dedicating herself to happiness through an accumulation of small life changes. The overall message is simple; the quest for happiness shouldn't be a daunting and endless undertaking but a series of small things that lead to something wonderful. It's a good book with a number of great messages, many that I will likely touch on here at some point.
One idea that Rubin addresses is the idea of the "Gold Star". You remember gold stars right? The little sticker attached to one school assignment or another that signified a job well done. In the book (and in adult life) the gold star is still an acknowledgement for a job well done, only this time it may be a few words, a handshake or some other sign of endearment. Rubin suggests that gold stars are wildly important to her, and while they aren't the underlying incentive for a good deed they are a required followup to the task even though they aren't always readily available.
I'm not much different then Rubin really. I truly like it when someone gives me a pat on the back or a word of praise when I feel that I have gone out of my way or accomplished something. And like the author its not the reason that I do things but for me its the point in which I am able to gauge that I am having a positive impact on others, which is something that I attach significance to in my life. On that same note Rubin and I both truggle because despite how important they are to our own satisfaction they aren't common and can't be forced. In some ways, as she goes on to point out, happiness comes from learning to do without the star, to doing the deed for your own satsifaction and never needing outside approval. Interesting concept.
Now imagine my surprise when, during a lunch to commemorate my department's Social Committee's accomplishments over the lunch year, I was presented with this:
A token of appreciation from the committee members for my contributions and leadership over the last 12 months. Each member has taken the time to sign it, personally thanking me for my efforts. It was completely unexpected and unbelievably appreciated. To me it means that my hard work is noticed but even more then that it means that I have been a positive influence on someone else in some way. And what better reason to do anything than to make a difference to someone else?
Kinda like this dinner, which might just deserves a gold star of its own, if I do say so myself
In case you were wondering, dinner tonight was orzo with white beans, goat's cheese and vegetables and a side of bruschetta with feta. Not homemade (and thus no recipe) but a delicious idea all the same!
So tell me, do you want/need the gold star or would you rather avoid the attention?