“There’s a great lie we tell kids, that pleasure creates happiness. Young people think: “Oh, if I get this, I’ll be happy.” But in a lot of ways, it’s meeting your responsibilities that makes you happy,” the actor Ethan Hawke said, in an interview for The Talks I read long time ago. But only recently I fully understood, how much truth lies in that statement.
We tend to think, that once we get the dream job, find a right partner, earn more money etc., then our life will mostly be filled with passions and pleasures. But that’s not how things work. Struggles, stress, tensions, fatigue and doubts always show up. They are everyday part of our lives, no matter what we do. Significant part of every dream job is difficult and dull.
I know many people assume, that authors enjoy the process of writing, that runners must love running, etc. I thought so, some time ago. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Authors are usually rather suffering during the process of writing, runners have to push themselves to run, successful actors or singers find significant part of what their job takes, frustrating. We can go on and on. What they love and what does push them forward, is the love for the results they achieve.
I can speak from my own experience. What I love about having a blog, is to see the new post completed. It’s a perfect world, I create through the process full of struggles. I rarely love writing, but I do it anyway, because of the desire to express something, to share my vision. I love to see the final output of my creative process. But I really have to push myself into it. Once I get on the track, I start enjoying it. I don’t feel that when I’m painting, but it’s just because I don’t feel the need to be good in that. Painting is my own way of meditation and therapy. I have no ambitions with that and I don’t try to learn or improve in it. I think we all should have hobbies like that.
Martin, my partner, says he loves running. I never liked running, so I asked him, whether he really enjoy it from the start to the end. He answered, not at all. Usually, first kilometres are really hard, he has to push himself each time, only then it starts to feel great. I had it the same with horse riding or yoga. It was my dream to ride a horse, but, especially at the beginning, it was also difficult and painful. I have to get up on Saturday morning and push myself to go there, sweat and conquer to often a stubborn horse. But it gets better after some time, in some moments I felt amazing, so I knew it’s something I really wanted. I had the vision of myself, feeling confident on a horse and enjoying the ride, at the breath-taking place.
I’ve started to search this topic more and found out, that almost everyone who says, I love doing this or that, has it similar. Someone starts to enjoy the second half of the process, someone only the feeling after or only the fact that they are improving in something. Usually, the better we become in something, the more we like it. But then we realize, that the challenge always has to be present, otherwise it can become all too comfortable and boring.
However, we make for living something we enjoy the most and we got used do it effortlessly, it’s different when we have to produce it for the client consistently in a great quality, to meet their expectations and get results. Not even mentioning, the part of our job will always be negotiations, finances, dealing with technical issues etc.
I think the quote “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” and similar, are pretty terrible career advises and very dangerous, too. It’s the other version of fairy tale, ending “and after the wedding they lived happily ever after”.
I mean, everyone knows, that on the way to success and happiness, one has to overcome some obstacles, work hard, bla bla. But many expect, that then, once happiness is found, life becomes a fairy tale.
Everyone knows someone or experience by themselves, the situation, when a person, after years of dreaming about something, decide to pursue their dream, but soon they give up, because, it’s not all fun, they didn’t make a fortune in the first two years and aren’t famous yet and it’s, actually, really difficult. If the main reason is their unrealistic expectations, it’s quite a shame.
So, should we do all these things we dream about, even though they don’t make us generally “happy”?
Of course! Everyone has a different definition of the success and happiness and they should have. For someone, it can be becoming a great lawyer, a good parent, for the other, to help people, write a screenplay, got promoted in a big company, travel the world. Or even combination of those things. Nothing of that is less or more, but all of that would take certain sacrifices. No one have it easy, no matter what they choose to do.
What makes me believe, that something is the path for me, is the attraction I feel towards it. The feeling I have a certain gift that will be developed, if I keep doing this or that. For someone else, that fuel can be different.
There are those easy pleasures, too. I described mine in this List of Frivolous Joy. These are the moments of pure happiness and pleasure, between the struggles and the sweat. Having a lot of those moments in our lives might be a sign that we do something right, we have a good life. But if we wanted to feel and experience only that, certain law of life would be broken, and we would feel miserable. We can see it on many rich people who have it all and are more desperate than ever before. The spark, the interest, the desire and the challenge still must be there.
On the other side, there are also many people that believe their life must be full of sacrifices, because if it was not, how it would be any different from heaven? It’s quite an extreme religious interpretation, but also very common, in many parts of the world. We see, there are many people, who literally gave up on their life here. Not only that, they even push their children to the life choices that would make them apparently unhappy for the sake of doing “the right thing”. These are sad cases and, in my opinion, only the result of the wrong interpretation of the religion principles and, subsequently, of certain cultural and social pressures.
I’m sure we should do all we can, getting the most of the lives we have. But what about the things we can’t change?
What I’ve always seen as really a frustrating part of the life, are those small routine things that don’t feel like being a part of my development, but need to be done, anyway. Taking care of laundry, cleaning the house, go to the post office or seeing the doctor, always something to fix or manage, etc. I’d always seen this like a pure waste of time.
Call it the first world problems, but I realized many people are frustrated by that. Once you find a right partner and job you like, you can pay your bills, this will hit you. The frustration of lack of time to enjoy that, to focus on what is important, because all those little things steal your time. You know million ways, how you could spend your time better and productively, but you always have to deal with those minor tasks.
Why we have to spend such a big part of our life just on self-maintenance or house maintenance, technical issues, answering emails etc.? Even when you get help with those things, finding a right people and managing them, they are usually time consuming, too. These things used to be my main sources of procrastination. But the more I tried to avoid them, the more new, little disasters seem to show up. This way I actually gave them even more power over other areas of my life, too.
Though, it’s important to mention, that for many people, those activities are the escape from the things they are feared of and they actually need to do. It’s no coincidence, that many good motivation speakers, authors and psychologists give plenty of space to the topic of time management and productivity. To learn, how to manage our time, how to get things done while taking care of ourselves, is the key.
Just recently I understood, how postponing of minor duties can influence me. Therefore, I decided I will not ever question again, why it’s necessary to do this or that. I just try to do it asap and do it well. I try not to get upset about it anymore. So, my parcel was not delivered to me, because of someone’s mistake and now I have to spend half of my day to fix this? OK, I promised myself I won’t question anymore, why things never go smoothly, why other people failed doing their job well. I’ll just do what I have to do, using 5 seconds rule of amazing Mel Robins (I recommend you, to check her). Count 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and do it without too much thinking about why, how and when. Oh, what a relief! It’s a different kind of satisfaction, but it feels really good then.
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