Most of us have seen quotes relating to things like “being happy is not having what you want, but wanting what you have”. I think this relates to the things that we do as well. Being happy is not about doing what you love, but loving what you do. And so this concept marks yet another Sunday self-help entry. One would think that I must be an enlightened person to have all these views on life — some of them positive and others pessimistic. Well, maybe I am. But I think these ideas develop within us with enough experience of life. I may provide you with guidance on how to see life in a different perspective, but it is only through personal experience that allows you to form your own special take on life.
In any case, while you grapple to understand the many forces in your life, allow me to present my wisdom.
I guess the most obvious application of loving what you do is your job. Most of the time, it’s impractical or even impossible to hold a job that we love. Of course, the ideal is that all of us are currently happily in our dream job, but to many people, they do not have the ability or aptitude to be chosen for their dream job, or their dream job doesn’t even exist at all. Sometimes people are forced into a job, such as “student”. Or sometimes, people end up in their dream job, but after working in it for a long time, it ceases to be something they love.
All these are unfortunate, but quite inevitable. And it extends beyond just career as well. Even our hobbies, such as photography or writing, can become dreary activities after a while.
There are times when we passionately join clubs that exemplify values or interests that we like, or we may join something to see what it’s like and decide that it’s fun and we can stick around. What we should understand is that there will always be a time when we want to leave. Whenever we stay for a long time in a community, 1 of 2 things may happen. First, we become enmeshed in its social circle, become integral to its operations, and start getting promoted to higher social standings within. It is a glorifying feeling to be important in a community, but responsibility also comes with it, and a great deal of worrying and second-guessing your own decisions. Membership stops becoming fun. Second, we wisely stay out of the social politics and remain a bystander, but we will make fewer friends and become less involved in the community. Gradually, the few friends that we make at first will leave or have more friends, and we realise we are less and less important, to the point where there is a larger batch of newcomers who have no idea who we are. With no social or emotional tie to the community, we gradually find other commitments more vital, and will also show up less in the community.
This is really the key not just for communities, but for jobs and hobbies as well. We need a bond, and that bond cannot be fuelled by rationality, because we will run out of logical reasons someday to keep on doing what we do. There is no shame in losing interest. In fact, it’s no loss to you unless you can’t escape from whatever you’ve lost interest in, such as a marriage. In that case, you may want to follow my suggestion, which is to deceive yourself.
There are several stages to self-deception. First of all, you’ve got to pretend that you love what you’re doing. Acknowledge that your job has some drawbacks to it, but tell yourself that you’ve learnt a lot from your job. Which should be true, because we do learn and grow from hardships. Focus on what you get out of your work. Secondly, you should pretend that you represent the community. If you belong to the science club, try and constantly find that science-y side of you that made you join the society to begin with. Look at your fellow club members and find similarities. This fosters a sense of belonging, which will tie you closer to your community. Thirdly, try to find goals within what you’re doing. This can be implementing a project, or envisioning a goal for the community itself that you can work towards, or even telling yourself when you’re going to officially leave. There’s a difference between quitting then and there and giving yourself one year to wrap up your duties before you make a proper departure, and in that one year, you’ll grow to cherish your work a lot more.
Nobody likes self-deception, and indeed it can be harmful if you purposely trap yourself in a destructive environment. However, if what you do doesn’t hurt you and may even help you, then my tactics should be beneficial to give you a sense of grounding in what you do. And I’m sure it’ll make you a whole lot gladder about your life too!