Part 2: The Four Secrets to Happiness – Mom Style

Part 2: Trust
What do online shopping, dining in restaurants, and taking trips by bus, train, and plane have in common?  They’re all things that make our lives easier and more pleasurable, but at a heftier cost than many realize. 
We could refuse to buy online, and only pay for things at the store with cash, but then we’re limiting our options.  Online shopping offers us greater selection and lower prices without having to leave the house. This is especially beneficial for moms of young children, like myself.  I always say that if I can’t find it on Amazon, I don’t need it.
We could (and should) cook at home instead of eating out, but every once in awhile, it’s nice to be waited on, to eat something prepared by someone whose full time job is to create delicious food and not to have to argue over who cleans up the dishes. 

(Image via Flickr, dalbera)

Most of us spend ten hours a week or more in our car, so it’s a pleasure to use time en route to catch up on some reading when the opportunity presents itself to be chauffeured.  Let’s not forget the time you buy yourself when going to New York by train or to Orlando by plane.  At twice the speed of your car – or more – and not a minute spent in traffic or at rest stops, you will have more time to spend relaxing and sightseeing.
Online shopping, fine dining, and letting someone else take the wheel may make life a little more convenient, but they wouldn’t be possible without the second secret to happiness – trust. 
In writing this, I’m trusting that you already trust in God.  You know that He has a plan for you and as long as you listen to Him, everything will work out just fine.
Trusting God isn’t the problem for most people.  It’s trusting each other that we need to work on. 
Erik Erikson’s psychosocial stages of human development theory describes a crisis for each of eight life stages. The first stage, infancy, centers around the conflict trust vs. mistrust.  Babies who receive appropriate adult attention when meeting their many demands will learn to trust, while those whose needs are ignored will grow to see the world as an inconsistent place where others cannot be trusted.
When I talk to other people, particularly those who follow the news a little too closely, more seem to fall into the mistrust category, which is unfortunate, considering the many gifts a little trust can send our way. 
When we shop online, we are trusting that the company we have provided with our credit card information will deliver the goods we’ve purchased in a timely manner and keep our sensitive financial information secure.  (It would also be nice if they didn’t flood our inboxes afterwards.) 
When we dine in restaurants, we are trusting that the establishment is clean, that our server is in good health and has our best interests in mind, and that the people who have prepared our food did so in a safe and sanitary manner with every intention of pleasing our palates and nurturing our bodies.  Does “dirty food” happen?  Sometimes, but it’s rarer than you think. 
When we travel in something other than our own car, we are trusting that the driver, conductor, or pilot is sober, conscientious, and knowledgeable of our route, that the vessel transporting us is in good repair, and that we will arrive safely at our destination.
(Image via Flickr, preston.rhea)
I won’t even get started with the amount of trust it takes for parents to send their children to school, but you get the idea.  Many things that bring us happiness begin with us trusting that the end result will be worth relinquishing some control over our situation. It’s almost like a cloud, the invisible barrier between us and the entity we are trusting in many cases. 
There is rarely a person at the other end when we shop online – it’s a computer someplace else. 
The kitchen is seldom visible in a restaurant, so we don’t usually see the chef who prepared our food. 
The cockpit on a plane is sealed off from the passengers, who may get a nod from the pilot and a peak at the controls upon deplaning. 
As a high school teacher, I can attest that I have met face to face with less than ten percent of my students’ parents. They mostly know me as a name next to a (preferably passing) grade on a report card that will have a (preferably positive) impact on the future.  And that’s okay.  I can automatically be trusted to look out for my students’ well-being when they’re in my care in addition to teaching them.  It’s my job. 
We don’t even see the people into whose hands we are putting our money, our mouths, our lives, and our children’s lives, but we trust them to care for them properly because it is their jobs.
 When we trust, we are blind, being led to happiness by an invisible force we wholeheartedly believe to be benevolent.  Sound familiar?  It should.
As Christians, we are led by God because of faith.  Trust is like faith.  The difference is that faith is believing without seeing and trust is believing in someone or something else despite what you may have heard. 
You may have seen a news story about someone who had their identity stolen because of online shopping and decided that you’ll only buy in stores.  You may have chosen not to eat at a particular new restaurant because a friend of a friend told you the food was terrible.  You may be terrified to fly because of a plane crash you heard about years ago.  If this sounds like you, you could be missing out.
Seek out online shopping sites with secure checkouts and shop away.  Other people’s opinions are important, but in the case of food, you can’t always trust someone else’s tastes.  So, decide for yourself if that new restaurant is up to par – and tell them if they’re not so they can get better.  Book that flight to someplace fun. 
Not everyone loves his or her job, but most people want to be good at the job they do have.  So, trust them to do it so that you don’t have to. 
Take for instance, the Bay Bridge, a staple for most Marylanders’ Ocean City trips.  Some people are afraid to cross it, but not me.  I trust that the engineers who built it are way better at math than I’ll ever be.  The bridge is that leap of trust that car travelers must take without having to leave the state in order to reach their sand, waves, Trimper’s rides and Thrasher’s fries of happiness.
Is everyone trustworthy?  Unfortunately not, but that’s the most beautiful thing of all about trust.  God gave us a conscience and intuition to send us that uneasy feeling when something is not right.  Develop it.  Use it.  Above all, trust in God.  Then, trust your gut.  Then, you can trust others more.
Did you read Robyn’s first secret to happiness? Find out what it is here

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.