Many people think that giving involves unreasonable sacrifice, unpleasantness, and, in general, doing things that you don’t want to do, but which you have to do for another person. Or, another way of saying this is that many people think that giving is having something taken from them – their time, their money, their leisure. So, giving is seen as an activity that is necessary, but not necessarily enjoyable. And it certainly doesn’t involve giving things that you love to do, or that are pleasant for you to experience.
However, giving in its highest form actually involves three things: 1) it is done voluntarily (no feelings of resentment), 2) it is done joyfully (it is pleasant to give of yourself in a particular line of work, for a cause you believe in, or for a person you care about), and 3) it is done with no expectations of anything (you are not looking for something in return). The power behind giving is in the intention behind it.
One of the most important ways you give to mankind is in your daily activities, simply because it makes up the majority of your day! Choosing work and activities that you enjoy, that you love, is very important in fulfilling all three of the above aspects of giving. In short, if you do whatever you want, the things that come from that will be your best gift to mankind.
What you enjoy the most you have the potential to excel at
Spending time on activities/work that you don’t really care about, usually doesn’t lead to great things, although it can lead to average and even above average things. Simply because you are not engaged enough in the activity to really be creative. Usually, when we are doing something that we don’t really want to do, we do it to a certain point and then stop. We get it done, and then leave it alone, because we’d rather be doing something else. If you are doing something at an average or an above average level, that is a gift, but it’s not the best gift you can give.
In order to give your best gift you have to really be engaged in what you are doing, you have to really care about it because then you want to be creative, you want to figure out new and better ways of doing something, you want this thing to be the best quality that it can be, and you want it to be done timely. In short, because you love this thing, you are not going to stop until you feel it’s at its best. And, giving the gift of an excellent job done is always better than giving an average job.
Being more engaged in what you do, you will also be more innovative, because you are spending time on this activity and because you want it to be its best. It is enjoyable in itself to simply do the activity, so you tend to play around with it more. This innovation is important because basically, innovations solve problems, and on planet Earth, we have a lot of problems to solve. And, it’s this problem solving that essentially leads to the progress we make as human beings. But, you really have to want to play with your work first, which brings me to my next point.
In order to be Creative, you have to Play
Playing is very important in the problem-solving process. When is the last time you played around with something that you didn’t really like or even felt neutral about? Probably never. If we don’t really want to do something, we usually just do it as much as we have to and then leave it alone. The aspects of play make it so that we really have to enjoy an activity if we are going to play around with it.
Think about a time when you “tinkered around” with something. Or even think about when you played as a kid. What qualities did that experience possess? And now, compare that experience with a lot of the activities you do everyday. Do you play very much?
Play involves a certain “lightness of action,” really a detachment, because while you are playing you are not really afraid of the outcome of that play. Every outcome is fine. Even failure. (If there even is such a think when we are playing.)
Curiosity is also important and is related to “lightness of action.” You ask questions, you try your hypothesis, and you see what you get. But you’re not really that worried about what you get.
Also, playing is enjoyable in and of itself. Or, maybe I should say the activity is enjoyable in and of itself. And, because of that, you lose sense of time. The clock does not matter when you play. These aspects of play that I am describing are also part of a concept called Flow developed by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Bottom line, you won’t play with something you don’t really enjoy, and therefore the potential to be really creative is restricted.
When you are delighted, so is everyone else around you
Have you ever been around someone who really enjoyed what they do? Do you remember how that impacted the atmosphere around you? Contrast that to being around or working around someone who is miserable and how that impacts the atmosphere.
People who are delighted in what they do often have a positive impact on the people around them. It is highly enjoyable to watch someone who is engaging in an activity that brings them joy. I think it’s because it reminds us that there are things that bring us joy also. And, they even inspire us to seek out what brings us joy. Joyful people doing things they delight in set off a ripple of joy in the people around them.
To sum it up, doing the things that you want to do in life is not a selfish pursuit. In fact, it helps you to give what is best inside of you, helps you to play more often, and therefore, solve more of life’s vexing problems, and helps you to bring an atmosphere of joy with you, rather than the opposite. So, what do you want to do?