Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Summer Book Club // Chapter No. 3

"What do you do in your spare time?"

March -- Work

  • Launch a blog
  • Enjoy the fun of failure
  • Ask for help
  • Work smart
  • Enjoy now

I immediately related with Gretchen with the start of this chapter. First of all, it seems like common sense but this hit me --
Happy people work more hours each week -- and they work more in their free time, too. They tend to be more cooperative, less self-centered, and more willing to help other people - say, by sharing information or pitching in to help a colleague -- and then, because they've helped others, others tend to help them. Also, they work better with others, because people prefer to be around happier people ...
I could really dig into how the people who work the most aren't always the happiest ... but I really related to was following your heart and doing what you love. I left a corporate job to become a photographer. I always meant to be in a creative field -- I just let my stupid head get in the way of what truly makes me happy. I'm glad for that first diversion in my life because it brought me friends who are family, great experiences and life lessons. And it taught me who I don't want to be and how I don't want to act. I remember vividly one weekend at home and saying aloud to myself "I ... am an artist." It just clicked. Why was I trying to deny what was in my heart and soul? In almost every aspect of me, I can relate to that. Once I embraced that, everything fell into place.  So I really connected with Gretchen's journey and how she always admired her sister who never apologized for who she is. I love that ... and would say that I've been teaching myself that lesson almost daily ever since I had the "artist" revelation.
Enthusiasm is more important to mastery than innate ability, it turns out, because the single most important element in developing an expertise is your willingness to practice. Therefore, career experts argue, you're better off pursuing a profession that comes easily and that you love, because that's where you'll be more eager to practice and thereby earn a competitive advantage.
Where are you in your career right now -- are you doing what you love, or are you clocking your time and hoping you can do something else? What do you love to do in your space time? I loved Gretchen's revelation about asking her friend if her school program made her read the text books. And her friend saying that's what she'd want to read anyway. That led Gretchen to realize that she liked reading, writing and research ... and ultimately her new career.  I was talking to Wendy a few weeks ago and we laughed about how in our first job out of college (where we met) everyone loved to work and their hobby was what they did for work. I never understood that at the time. Now I do -- I just wasn't in the right place, I wasn't happy.

I obviously related BIG TIME to her launching a blog.  That whole part about being driven crazy with frustration? Totally true. And for many of my friends who want to start a blog, I know that the first step is crazy scary! Obviously blogs aren't meant for everyone but I think the important step is just that -- a first step toward something that will make you happy. But I loved this -- "One reason that challenge brings happiness is that it allows you to expand your self definition." I think it's so true.

Speaking of the fear of failure ... I read with bated breath the title about enjoying the fun of failure. What? I couldn't wait to see what that was going to be about! But it boils down to being fearless, giving yourself a break with perfection and standing up for yourself, doesn't it?  We always hear "The only thing to fear is fear itself." Putting yourself out there is hard, especially when so many people are mean-spirited and love to knock you down.  But I really loved that she wrote the letter to the guy who critiqued her book. Wasn't that great?!? Who cares what he said in reply -- it must have felt so good. There's such a mentality of letting others get a one-up on your psyche.  Just because someone else thinks you failed does not mean you failed. So I was inspired by that act -- and like her sister said, make no apologies for who you are.

And then she talked about time management, oy!  I'm not sure there's a magical answer. Have any of you tried her 90-minute rule? I have yet to try that -- my workload isn't manageable in that chunk of time. But I do start my day early, and when I'm working on all cylinders, I do find that taking just 15 minutes to tidy up email or my desk or the nagging little things on my list ... well, it really works. But the big thing is that I really want to enjoy now -- that segment hit me hard. I'm always so focused on the goal so I loved hearing about Tal Ben-Shahar's "arrival fallacy:"
... by the time you've arrived at your destination, you're expecting to reach it, so it has already been incorporated into your happiness. Also, arrival often brings more work and responsibility. It's rare to achieve something that brings unadulterated pleasure without added concerns ... You look forward to reaching these destinations, but once you've reached them, they bring emotions other than sheer happiness. And of course, arriving at one goal usually reveals another, yet more challenging goal. 
And she wrote "the fun part doesn't come later, now is the fun part." Every day I try to enjoy the journey ... but it's so hard. Do you struggle with this? How do you enjoy the journey? And what are your examples of the arrival fallacy? I'd love to hear!

I loved this chapter.  Did you? I can't wait to hear what you think! Don't forget ... MJ is writing about her journey with happiness this summer over on her blog, too. Please share if you are doing something similar!

P.S. I know some new photographers read my blog so I want to share this nugget with you -- only expect about 10% of your photos to be worthy of something. Even that's a lot. I learned that back in the days of film -- on a roll of 36 exposures, you could expect to like about 3-4.  Don't expect every single photo you take to be a masterpiece. Even the legends don't make a perfect shot every time -- you just don't see all of their mistakes.  I still use this rule today and I think it's true. And I think that's a good lesson in not being afraid to fail. 

{Collage above from this cute tea towel & this book}.  


  1. Hello, hello!

    Well, I am nodding my head in violent agreement with you and laughing as I read this post. Every quote you quoted was one that I both highlighted and starred!

    This chapter definitely spoke to me. As you know from our chat, I *like* what I do, but I don’t LOVE it. So, just like what we talked about, the lines about enthusiasm and passion really made me think. As did the quote, “one reason that challenge brings happiness is that it allows you to expand your self definition”. Top of my “to-do” list is to figure out how to tweak – or completely overhaul – my professional endeavors; I want to do for work what I love, do what won’t feel like work because I love it, and I am thinking it will likely involve some expansion of my self-definition. Good stuff.

    I loved the part about the arrival fallacy and enjoying the journey. I am so, so bad at this. I really like to check things off my list. Sometimes I put things on my list that I have already done, just so I can check them off. Given that, I am not enjoying the journey, rather looking forward to checking the box. Need to work on this…

    Phew! So much to work on and think about in this chapter.

    1. I always nod my head when I read things from you :)

  2. Thanks, lady, as always for the shout out. I'm really enjoying this chapter. Though I love what I do, now more than ever, I still long to love it always. I have found, actually, that having the blog has allowed me to express my creativity and establish professional connections in a way that I'm not always able to do in my work.

    I always look forward to Wednesdays to hear how your take on the next chapter. Happiness! XO, MJ

  3. Love this chapter. And I laughed when you wrote about your first coworkers loving what they did inside and outside of work. I found that in my first career too - my coworkers LOVED it. Loved reading about it, living it. Me? Although I was good at it, not so much. I was always - lemme say that again - ALWAYS doing creative stuffs in my off hours. I actually prided myself in being different. Took me years to realise that I was in the wrong place.

    And thanks for the photography tip. You know I am just learning but I was feeling discouraged the other day because I took a zillion shots and only a few were worth keeping. I am getting so ruthless with my editing and deleting.

    Yup to the fear of putting yourself out there. But it feels good to do it! And poo on anyone criticizing. At least we are taking a chance and trying something new.

    1. From reading your blog, I totally get the sense that we've had such a similar trajectory in our lives :) And NEVER delete! That's my rule. NEVER. You'll be amazed at how you'll go back to a shoot -- whether it's a few days, months or years later -- and have a completely different eye. Sometimes we are our worst editors. Try having someone else edit your work and then talk you through their choices. Some shoots you get nothing. And other shoots you are like "Man, I am soooo good!" LOL! Oh, and always shoot RAW. How you process your files is super important. OK, I'll shut up now ... I could obviously talk about photos FOREVER!