“I am so excited to go to jury duty!” said no one ever.
A friend just told me she’s been tagged for jury duty—for the third time. Of course it’s the first rule of jury summons that it must NEVER come at a time that would actually be convenient for you (such as during mother-in-law’s surprise visit, high school reunion week, entire year that your daughter turns thirteen…). But it did remind me of this post from several years ago about last time I received a jury summons. And it reminded me of one more thing I’m glad don’t have to give up to be happy—living in another country gets you an automatic pass for jury service! I wonder where my friend would like to move…
After the third friend recommended The World Observer Online’s article, Fifteen Things You Should Give Up to Be Happy, I decided to take a look. The first thing I noticed was that 447,611 people had already ‘liked’ it on Facebook alone. If you don’t count titles with “Fifty Shades” or “Hunger Games” in them, that’s more people than bought any book on the top seller lists in 2012. That’s even more people than Like the posts on Facebook pages of Pope Francis, Queen Elizabeth, and President Obama (not counting the ones with pictures of First-Dog Bo, or the Duchess of Cambridge’s baby bump of course).
And all 447,611of them are wrong. People give stuff up for Lent, to be miserable or something. It’s called a sacrifice, for which The Oxford Dictionaries provides the following definition:
- An act of slaughtering an animal or person or surrendering a possession as an offering to a deity
- An animal, person, or object offered in the act of sacrifice
- An act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy
With the exception of a couple of people I would happily offer as sacrifices, guess what’s not mentioned here? You got it: my happiness. Based on the above definition, I can only think of two reasons for me to make a sacrifice. Reason #1: the chance to win obscenely big prizes (Yes, Monty, I’ll sacrifice the washer/dryer and year’s supply of dog shampoo I’ve already won for what’s behind door number three). Reason #2: someone who shares my bed or my DNA needs me. (Yes, I’ll gnaw off my own hand to help my child on the off-chance that s/he will serve up some grandchildren someday.)
The article goes on to list no fewer than fifteen (!) things to give up. So let’s just take a look at the happiness bonanza if we make those fifteen sacrifices.
Give up your need to always be right. But it doesn’t make me the least bit happy to be wrong (which is pretty much what happens when you’re not right).
Give up your need for control. It’s true that my offspring often refer to me with the C-word (control-freak). Like it’s a bad thing. Like my world wouldn’t just be a better place if everyone did things my way. A few years ago, I was called for jury duty. It was the worst possible time to leave work, but I actually wanted to do it. My smug glow of civic virtue lasted until I met the rest of the jurors. Somehow several newly-minted young voters were called for jury duty and made it onto the same panel. At first the rest of us old-farts were charmed by their enthusiasm and even went along with one young man’s request to serve as foreman.
The trial was straight-forward and everyone knew their role. The defendant, while sentenced to home-detention at his mother’s house, had removed his monitor and was recaptured months later. He admitted to leaving detention, explaining that his mother’s house was in a noisy neighborhood and her TV cable service was cancelled. But he wanted to return to house arrest instead of being sent to prison, so he’d requested a jury trial. We jurors returned to our little room, relieved that we’d done our duty with this open-and-shut case and would soon be back at work. That’s when the young jury foreman and his two-angry-men-sidekicks detoured into TV-La-La Land. “What if the defendant hadn’t called his parole officer because he was afraid of The Man?” asked one. “What if there were rival gang members at the prison who would attack him?” added another. “What if he knew the police were corrupt – everyone knows that, right? – and so he was afraid to turn himself in?” triumphantly finished our feckless foreman.
What if three friggin days of this went on while the clueless baby jury members who had nothing better to do because freshman orientation at the University didn’t start for several weeks and Mom was still cooking their dinners and doing their laundry and Sherlock and Dr. Who were in reruns debated these points with unflagging enthusiasm? Finally on the afternoon of Day Three, as the God help us if this kid represents the future of our country foreman launched into yet another rehash of a plot he’d seen on CSI, I snapped. “Stop. Right. There.” Three young heads shot up in shock. Who let A Mother in there while they were playing grownup?
It was my “You’re-going-to-eat-those-brussels-sprouts-and-you’re-going-to-do-it-NOW” voice. “I’ve had just about enough of your nonsense. We’re going to go around this table and we’re each going to say one word. If you think the defendant took off his monitor and skipped – as he admits doing – then the word you are going to say is guilty. If you think he lied about doing that, then you are going to say not-guilty.” The young man opened his mouth (probably to tell me that ‘not-guilty’ is two words) but stopped when I pointed to the hand he could tell it to. “Not one more word out of you until this is done. Nod if you understand me.” His colleagues wouldn’t meet his eye so he shrugged. [Eye-roll.] “Whatever.” [More eye-roll.]
I pulled out a list of each of our names and made two columns next to them. “Fine. I’ll start. Guilty.” We went around the table, each person echoing me. When it came to him at the end, he started to say, “But…” I held up the hand again. “Did he do it?” The young man rolled his eyes. “Say it.” “Guilty.” As we were leaving, the prosecutor came out to talk to us. The Defense’s only strategy, he said, had been to try to get as many of the young students onto the panel as possible in hopes that they would see themselves as crusaders against The Man. One of the other jurors nodded. “It might have worked, if that Mom over there hadn’t sent them to time-out and made them play nice.” Chalk one up for the control-freak.
Give up on blame. I never blame anybody. Unless they deserve it. Or I just plain don’t like them.
Give up the past. If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s probably something you gave birth to who wants to move back in with you. Or a pizza. A moment on your lips, and your hips are never going give up the past pizza…
Give up on… Well actually, I just skimmed the rest of them. They got repetitive, and pretty much fell into my ‘If I ain’t broke, don’t fix me’ category. So there you have it. I’m pretty happy and I didn’t have to give up a damn thing. Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for 447,611 people to Like this…
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