"Calvin, go do something you hate."

"Calvin, go do something you hate. Being miserable builds character." The words of Calvin the comic strip character, from Calvin and Hobbes, in one of the all time funniest examples of the medium, by Bill Watterson. In the strip Calvin's dad is looking for his glasses when Calvin walks in wearing them, doing his best Dad impersonation. The last panel has Calvin's dad a little embarrassed trying to justify to himself why Calvin sees him as a curmudgeon... ...and Calvin's mom laughing hysterically on the floor. Even as I type these words I've got a big cheesy grin on my face at the thought. But think about it for a second! "Being miserable builds character." Huh? Most of us take that statement pretty much as a truism. We may not put it in those exact words, but the thought pattern is generally "if you want to get ahead, you need to be willing to suffer and pay the price." There is a little kernel of truth in that statement. Most of get ahead in life by moving out of our comfort zone...of doing things that don't come easy to us. But miserable? That sounds like a long time of suffering and despair. Yuck! That's not what most of us sign on for. Here's my take on it...humans have an essential nature of seeking, love, excitement, challenge, and ultimately peace. Our ambition is what separates us from our four-legged brothers and sisters. Our true character is developed when we live lives of purpose, service and striving. Being miserable is what people do when they're so unhappy that they don't see a way out... ...or when they've lost their sense of purpose and become resigned to wallow in their own self-pity. Working hard and developing your skills and patience builds character. So does being joyful, loving and grateful for the blessings you've received. Being miserable doesn't build character. Being miserable builds misery.