Finding happiness with work

I love when people talk about their work and their eyes light up. I usually hear that it doesn’t feel like a job, they’re happy because they’re doing what they love.

On the flip side, I have empathy for those who feel uninspired, tired and are looking for ‘the next thing’ but aren’t sure how to get there.

In Roman Krznaric’s book, How Should We Live? he explores many ideas about life including love, travel, time and how humans have valued these ideas throughout history.

On the topic of work he compares our freedoms to that of the industrial revolution – which, let’s face it, would have sucked to have been a worker then – implying that now is a greater time than ever to do what we want.

He writes, “… the history of work suggests we can find careers that not only embody our values, but have meaningful goals, give us a sense of respect and use our talents. Some, if not all these, may be within your reach, offering you a job that is big enough for your spirit.”

Krznaric’s goes on to talk about living a polymathic life and gives the example of Leon Battista Alberti (1404-72) who was an author, architect, poet, linguist, cryptographer, philosopher and musician.

Alberti hung out with Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. The man rolled deep. Michelangelo was renowned for encouraging people to put their range of talents to full use. Inspired by his peers no less.

A life of work could mean doing a lot of things.

Today we call these people slashies. And it usually comes with a huge serve of eye rolling.

Should we really believe that people have only one talent important enough to pursue as a lifelong career?

That was a rhetorical question.

I think, at least to some degree, this type of reaction stems from a fear of trying new things, both in work and life.

Perhaps other people’s responses are simply a nervous reaction of them not ever wanting to be in that position. Personalising. That they have life “set”. For good. And so should you.

Yes to trying new things! Even if you don’t make money off the new things, perhaps not at the beginning, at least you get to explore what may truly be a spark. And who says that you can’t start over again… and again?

One of my favourite people I’ve ever interviewed is Owe Sandström. Owe is known in pop culture for having designed the costumes for ABBA in their hey day. ABBA’s costumes are so treasured they’re protected by Sweden’s National Archive.

Owe just so happens to also be a Zoologist and Biologist.

When I met Owe in his home studio, his fashion career was well behind him. He spoke with such joy about his morning on the farm collecting eggs for his breakfast.  And after his very passionate interview about his work with ABBA, he told me he was off to a University to guest lecture about sustainability on behalf of the World Wildlife Foundation.

My face hurt from smiling so much in his presence. He was genuinely living life to the fullest.

Back to Roman Krznaric. Krznaric cited a great Ralph Waldo Emerson quote in How Should We Live:

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments the better. What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled and torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble” 

Listening to: Duke Dumont – I Got U feat. Jax JonesThe Giver and the gentle hum of home appliances and the distant mumble of my friend in another room practicing lines for a television pilot.