Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why I'm Happy

In My Work

I think I'm happy in my work (T'ai-Chi, Writing, and Music) because I get to creatively solve the kind of problems I like solving, the kind I feel I'm good at solving, and I get to enjoy the solutions I come up with. Also the balance of solving problems and enjoying the solutions is about right. Nothing but problem solving eventually becomes too stressful.

I wonder if this is true for other people who are happy with their work lives?

I really love coming up with ways to reach and teach each of my students. I love finding the right words to express myself, whether it's right here on this blog, in a facebook post,
in a song, or even an email. I love working with whatever voice I have each day and seeing if I can get it to express whatever each song I sing has to express. I love trying to find the right guitar sound for each moment of playing. I even love figuring out the logistics of my life: lesson scheduling, recording sessions, assembling CD's, household chores, paying the bills, doing all the stuff around gigs, all the communication tasks...When I don't like all these little tasks, it's not because that I don't like the tasks themselves. It's almost always because I just have too many of them.

Sometimes I can't come up with a good solution to one of my problems, or I can, but don't execute it correctly, or things that are out of my control interfere with me being able to execute it. Sometimes I just miss the mark and that's no fun.


As long as they're aren't too many problems to solve, as long as we're still above water financially, and as long as I have some time to breathe a little between the solutions I am able to come up with, I'm pretty happy. I would hate a job where I had to solve the kind of problems I don't like solving, or the kind I don't feel good at solving, or where I had no time between problems to enjoy the solutions I came up with. That would suck.

I guess my advice to young people who want to be happy in their work, though not necessarily rich, would be: Figure out the kind of problems you most like solving and the kind you solve best, and then try to find work that lets you do that as much as possible.

1 comment:

  1. Something else: I found the life I'm living by following what I call "the most deeply right feeling". If something felt wrong I'd stop doing it.

    For instance, I got a massage license and practiced massage in Seattle for several years. But it just didn't feel right. I gave it a real serious effort but It just wasn't my thing. So by trial and error, going by that feeling, I found a life's work that involves solving the kinds of problems that I like to solve and that I feel good at solving.

    What I wish is that someone could have framed things the way I have above, to me, when I was younger, in high school for instance. I never saw different kinds of work as involving different kinds of problem solving. I just saw tasks that I thought I'd like or wouldn't. But I didn't think about exactly why I wouldn't like them. I didn't put it together that some jobs involved solving problems that I didn't like solving or thought that I wasn't very good at solving.

    I think it would have been valuable for me to have looked at the life ahead of me as choices about what kinds of problems to solve, rather than choices of what I'd "like".

    And "problems" isn't the best word for what I mean because it sounds perhaps that I'm making life a bunch of "problems" in the usual every day negative sense of "issues".

    I mean problems like a basketball player who has with two guys covering him and 3 seconds to shoot the ball or lose the game, or the problems a school teacher might have getting through to a difficult but promising student, or the problems a writer might have bringing the final chapters of novel "home" in a way that works best, or the problems a waiter might have juggling an extra table into their routine, or the problems a massage therapist has deciding where to start and where to finish and how much time to spend in between, or the problems a songwriter has making the words and melody of a song work together...

    As I see it, all work, no matter how pleasurable or not, involves problems and solutions. And looking at work that way can be very useful and educational. And hey, in my case, better late than never!