Since November is an election month, there will be much thought given to the United States Constitution and our representative government. The first great American document was Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence where he wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Constitution echoes this in the Preamble.
Jefferson says we have an inalienable right to the preservation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We can pursue happiness, but there is very little chance that we will catch it 100% of the time. But exactly what is tranquil happiness?
Where to Find Happiness
In The Geography of Bliss (Hachett Book Group, 2008) Eric Weiner, an international correspondent for PBS, set off to find the happiest places on earth. He began in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, with a university professor who has made a study of happiness. The academics found that men are often happier than women; married couples happier than singles; childless couples are happier than those with children, at least those with children who have become teenagers; and the poor are generally no less happy than the rich. Working makes us happy; if you win the lottery and quit your job, you will soon become unhappy. Why? Because you’ve lost your sense of responsibility.
So where did the Dutch professor’s research show people were the happiest? He traveled to Holland, Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland and India, and he found that no place on earth was any more or less happy than the U.S.
Happiness and the Confident Adjuster
Are adjusters happy? Is ours a vocation in which one can find real happiness? As in Weiner’s search of the world it depends on the individual. Studies have shown that those in a helping profession, either as a paid helper or as a volunteer, are happier than those who don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves. Adjusting is certainly a helping vocation; everyone we deal with has just suffered some sort of loss. His car was stolen, her purse snatched, their house burned down or blew away, their kid was crippled for life in an auto accident. It is the stuff we deal with daily. We don’t make million-dollar annual bonuses like those in the Wall Street banks, but they’re too busy doing whatever it is they do to be happy anyway.
Definition of Insurance Includes ‘Peace of Mind’
Being confident, or having self-confidence, can be a major part of tranquil happiness. For adjusters, this is a crucial factor. Confidence means from its origin words, with fidelity or honesty. If we are doing our work properly, with both confidence and competence – an honest day’s work for our salary – we will be happier than if we are trying to out-do Don Draper at the water cooler or wasting our employer’s time texting friends and surfing the Internet. And if we handle our claims with that same sense of fidelity – if not utmost good faith – we should experience tranquility. Peace of mind is supposed to be one of the reasons society created and people purchase insurance; one hopes there will be no loss, but one never knows when that day will come. It’s nice to know that some claims representative will be there in a time of need. Adjusters are the embodiment of the insurance contract.
The claims business is an unusual one. It takes a certain type of person to really enjoy dealing with the troubles of others and seeing if the policy contract or the law will allow some financial relief. All those plaintiff lawyer ads on TV make it even harder. Those guys want us to over-pay the claim; our bosses want us to pay the exactly correct amount. If the boss wants us to under-pay, then we are going to be in a jam, and that is not a happy situation.
So let us think of that Constitutional right to domestic tranquility. When things are equitable then confidence is possible, and there is no sense of panic. We will feel self-confident, and our bosses will have confidence in us. That is a hard goal to achieve, but that is what our chosen professional vocation has stipulated as the objective. Meeting it may not make us giddy with laughter and have joyful reactions, but it will at least let us think we are pursuing the happiness goal.