Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. Epictetus.
How many of us dread the “Passion” question? What are you passionate about? I’ve felt over the years many times I was still looking for what I wanted to do with my life. Is there an all-consuming passion that some have? It has eluded me all my life. Being a wife and mother included some passion, some drudgery, some just getting through the day, some moments of intense joy and pride, and some moments that brings us to our knees. Being self-employed is much the same.
If we judge our life on the “Passion Scale” and find it wanting maybe we should throw the “Passion Scale” out and continue living a meaningful life where what we do solves someone’s problem. If what we do doesn’t solve someone’s problem, chances are we don’t have a job because that is what we get paid to do. We get paid to make something happen, fix something, change something, provide something, and create something that someone is willing to pay for.
When we do something purely to please our self we call it a hobby. Turning hobbies into jobs and livelihoods has its own problems. When no one pays us they have no say in what we create. When they pay us, they do.
In 1970 it was a radical notion to find out what you like to do… and find a place that needs people like you. This was the premise behind What Color Is Your Parachute.
The unintended consequence seems to be the more we’ve placed importance on the passion hypothesis, the more disinterested, and therefore less happy with the work we do we have become. We’ve built up such expectations about what a life filled with passion and purpose means that even the people who do have the dream jobs doing what they love don’t feel fulfilled.
We are often attracted to ideals we don’t actually want to live. We hear about authenticity – we are attracted to the stories of people living simply in beautiful surroundings. Do we want to live that simply?
Autonomy is a keyword – having control over when and how we work. Do we want the risk of not having a steady paycheck? Self-employed is sometimes a euphemism for unemployed. This is especially so when you want a loan from a bank.
Mission is something we long for – a cause that transforms work into something meaningful. This depends on what we call meaningful. It is meaningful to me when a coffee shop gets my order right. Is that meaningful to the person behind the till? It is meaningful when a plumber can fix my plumbing problem.
Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty. Doris Day
Fixing people’s problems are what we get paid for. The more people there are that can fix the particular problem we can fix the less it is worth. When we find a problem we can fix that is highly valued but not widely available we have something that might pay well.
We might go to a particular restaurant on a particular day because we like being served by a particular server who sees us as a person and makes our day with their kind and positive attitude. That person is likely to make more tips than a server who doesn’t connect with us and doesn’t go the extra mile to help us enjoy our experience.
When we expect too much out of anything, it can spoil even the best things in our life. Perfection is enemy of the good. When we are grateful for what is in our life, we will get more of what we focus on. When we focus on the lack in our life, lack of passion, lack of money, lack of fulfillment, lack of joy, lack of our partner meeting our needs, lack, lack, lack. We will get more lack.
I grew up with my parents saying, “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man that had no feet.” We can all cry about the things we don’t have, but do we look around and see all we do have?
Did we wake up to a warm body other than our own in our house? Did we wake up in four walls with a roof and a floor? Were we warm and cozy? Were we able to have something to eat? Is there transportation to take us to where we need or want to go? Even if things aren’t that great, couldn’t they be worse?
Can we give up our unmet expectations, our impossible expectations and enjoy what is?
Let us rise and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful. Buddha
Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude and love.
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