In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun - find the fun and snap! The job's a game! ~Mary Poppins
When I was a young man I never understood the Peace Corps commercials which foretold, "The hardest job you'll ever love." The two seemed mutually exclusive to me. As I matured however, I gained a deep satisfaction in helping others with my hard work, no matter what the task at hand entailed. I know those who define "happiness" as one day being independently wealthy. I explain very gently to them that if they cannot be happy with where they are now, they won't be happy when they're rich. They do not comprehend my words. Much the same way, anything I choose to "work" on doesn't automatically mean it won't be, at times, joyful for me to do so. Anything worth doing will certainly entail some challenge, but I reject the notion it can't be "fun" to "work" on something to conclusion.
Take life for example. Frought with both happiness and heartache, perhaps our attitude alone can carry us through both extremes? If we approach every job with a desire and willingness to do our best, then even if the outcome fails, our time was well spent. Our time was well spent because you can't work that hard and not invest a little of yourself in the job. I damn near preach that the journey, not the destination is what makes the destination worthwhile. I think you'd be hard press to enjoy all the destination has to offer without the fulfillment of how you got there. Then again, it may just be me.
There was a passage in the book Speak Peace which related a story about a mother who hated cooking, but felt she had to - that it was her role to fulfill. The author encouraged her to not do the things which made her unhappy. Gathering her courage, when she got home she announced to her husband and two teenage sons that she would no longer cook. They were thrilled! "Now maybe she won't bitch so much about how much she hates to cook," one of the sons was quoted in reply.
While most of the memories of my grandmother are of avocado and goldenrod appliances, fading like a yellowed photograph, I remember being five years old. It was 1974. I remember my mother and grandmother arguing over a gift my grandmother had given me for Christmas after we'd stopped celebrating it for religious reasons. My grandmother had wholeheartedly accepted my mother's choice, but wasn't aware it was going to limit what she did. It was a shiny yellow metal Tonka dumptruck. At some point, for whatever reason, my mother finally relented. I was thrilled, but also a bit guilty. I wonder if the boys from the passage in Speak Peace felt guilt at eating a dinner their mother bitched about making? Oftentimes its not what we do or do not do that counts, rather how we do it.
I've often said in the annals of this blog, I'd rather you not do something at all than do it with a bad attitude. That's not a trite platitude - its my way of life - and I'm a much happier person for adhering to it. Sure there are things that I must do from time to time that I don't enjoy as much as others, but I know going in if I have a bad attitude toward it, I will be that much more miserable. I simply re-frame, and continue. The job gets done and surprisingly, if I haven't learned something from it, I've at least walked away with the satisfaction that I did my best.
Sometimes, it really is that easy.