Doing What You Love v. Loving What You Do (The Sequel)


We should all be so lucky to find our dream calling.  That thing that we are so called to doing that we are “self-actualized” (see Maslow’s Hierarchy; also see The Problem with Maslow).  I wonder if any of you have had a self-dialogue like I have had similar to the ones below:

“As soon as I find my calling, then I’ll be happy.  Certainly, what I am doing now certainly is not it.  I am definitely not fully satisfied doing this/being here.  I need to find my dream job/life/place to live/love/home/etc., and then I will find happiness.” YOU ARE STUCK IN A TASK THAT IS NOT YOUR LOVE.

or maybe you’re here:

“This is not worth the effort.  This is not fun at all.  I thought this was my dream, but I am not really enjoying this, this is so tedious.  This is A LOT more work than I thought it would be.  What a headache!  Why did I choose this path?”  YOU MIGHT BE IN A TASK THAT YOU THOUGHT WAS YOUR LOVE, BUT IT IS NOT AS FUN AS YOU THOUGHT.

Now that I have set the stage, I’d like to discuss these two situations in more detail.  Hopefully this will help us solve the “doing what you love” or “loving what you do” riddle (see the original post).

1) If you haven’t found your dream, indeed even if you are stuck in a miserable condition, you can find satisfaction in what you are doing.  It may be through helping those around you, making a negative thing better, or even performing your function honorably.  For example, I was sent overseas in a war that I felt was a complete failure (as most wars are).  When I got there, my suspicions were confirmed…it was a complete mess, replete with profit-taking, disorganization, stalemate, and death.  On top of all of that, I was given a task that was redundant and useless.  When I was there, I coped with this situation by (a) making things better for those around me, (b) finding ways to save lives if necessary and (c) making the case that the function I was performing was not needed.  As a result, I fulfilled my purpose within my sphere of influence.  As it turned out, I did manage to convince those in charge that the function that my group was performing could be curtailed, if not eliminated.  As a result, future personnel could either stay home or be used in a different way…maybe to save lives, I hope.  I tried to be a hero within my locus of control.  This is the heart of Stoic philosophy.

Happiness in a Foxhole?

Happiness in a Foxhole?

2) Even if you have found your path, there is no paradise on earth.  Making progress always takes effort, and quite frequently effort hurts.  For example, I may want to run my own business, maybe I want to run a fitness studio (truth be told, I have wanted to do this).  Well, I might love helping people make progress with their fitness goals, that would be great!  However, there are also many clients who just won’t make progress, and this will be frustrating.  On top of all of that, there are property taxes, making payroll, paying utilities, paying liability insurance, and completing tax paperwork, licensing, and certification annually…not to mention the long hours!  Uggh!  All of these are a huge pain in the neck, but they are necessary to live out my dream.  I don’t consider any of those things fun, but it must be the price I pay to realize my dream, no?  I may have found what I want to do for the rest of my life, that calling that makes me feel whole, but there will be ups and downs all the time.  (Also, see Dukkha).  My point is that “dream calling” does not mean “easy sailing,” although you certainly will be more motivated to slog through for something you believe in.


Living that Dream may not always be Easy Sailing

So, you can be satisfied in a bad situation, and you can be dissatisfied in a good one.  In the end, your state of mind is what is most important.  In the end, it all comes back to your impressions of your existence.

Just like Epictetus said, “Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them.”

Oh, and Siddhartha said it as well in the Second Noble Truth:  Suffering is caused by our attachment to that which we cannot change, as well as our attachment to our own perception of what we think is true.  You must always contend with Dukkha (I certainly do).

Lots of links in this one…hope you enjoy the rabbit hole…happy “internetting!”

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