Dueling perspectives

I’m thinking about two different views on work, either one coming from people who I perceive as being successful.

One of them writes about work as being hard and constant. I don’t quite get the impression it’s done unwillingly, but I get this pervasive sense that to this person, work is really hard and success takes a lot of it. Work, work, work, hard, hard, hard, struggle, struggle, struggle.

For the other one, success doesn’t seem to be nearly so arduous. There’s a much more positive, much more buoyant spirit in their words when they talk about work and achieving success.

I’m seriously thinking about the apparent difference here, because I want to know where the truth lies — more even than my usual interest in ferreting out truth, because this one is personal. I want to know if I need to be girding my metaphorical loins for work, work, work, struggle, struggle, struggle, or if doing the work of becoming successful isn’t that painful and I can sigh in relief and just get on with it.

Thinking about it more deeply, I have a feeling Arduous-Person really does find satisfaction and enjoyment in the work they do, and I know Buoyant-Person does really actually work at gaining their successes, it’s not all cupcakes and butterflies for them. So why do I get such a difference sense from either person? And which way do I lean myself? Which way would I rather lean?

Perception has a lot to do with it. We filter experiences through our own perception, and assign our own interpretations and meanings. I’ve been doing a bit of reading about happiness and what makes people happy, and it has more to do with internals than externals. Abraham Lincoln summed it up tidily: “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Our happiness comes up out of our responses to situations, not from the situations themselves. I think our ideas and feelings about work are affected by this too.

Lately I’ve been slipping quietly toward fear and paralysis, I think, from holding too much of the “work, work, struggle, struggle” perspective. I feel like I’m not spending enough time working, I can’t possibly get enough done, so I don’t know how I’ll ever be successful. I’m afraid I won’t be able to do something that I haven’t done enough of to even know what it’s like, let alone if I can handle doing it.

I’m forgetting basic things. Time isn’t the best measure of creative work. Creative work, heart-work, work that comes up out of one’s deepest being has a way of bending time, making time irrelevant. There’s enough time to do what needs doing. It’s always been better for me to just think about the work and get going, rather than when to start or how long things will take.

Plus, worry and fear slow everything down. They gum up the mental and creative works terribly. I’m not running at my best capacity when I’m hindered by fear. I can do more than I’m doing now, if I’m working now while being dogged by fear.

I’ve also been forgetting the joy in the work. I actually like what I’m doing, putting words together, thinking deeply about things and writing about them. Is it hard? Sometimes. Is it still fun? Mainly, when I think of it that way, yes. When I write about what interests me rather than write from a sense of obligation, certainly. What if I spent more time looking for what interests me rather than fighting with words that seem like they ought to get said? What if I remind myself that everything is interesting, cast in the right light? What if I seek out a sense of play within the work, to give it a lightness and buoyancy? What if I don’t take myself quite so seriously, and breathe a little deeper, and smile a little more quickly, and enjoy the hard work I take on, appreciating the opportunity I have to do it? What might be possible then?


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