Smile First and Then the Sweat (365 Days of Spirited Living – DAY 248)
“Power means happiness; power means hard work and sacrifice.”
— Beyonce Knowles
Work, by definition, is hard. Very, very hard. After all, it is a curse. It was never meant to be so tedious, laborious, or painfully egregious. But yet it is and we all have to submit to its direction. It probably shouldn’t be this way, but a large part of who we are and what we become is defined by what we do — our work. Our days are ordered around work. Work, no matter how much we don’t like it, comes first and foremost, above and beyond anything else we want to do.
Most people don’t work because they want to, they work because they have to. Similarly, most people don’t really like the work they do. Yet they do it anyway because it is wholly necessary for survival. At the end of the week, it converts into money which, over the weekend, converts into more material possessions or vacations or baby clothes. Work matters. It really does. Because without it, we’d be bored, listless, and not at all productive.
But there are two kinds of work. The first is the work of the world. By this I mean work that demands you be in by 8 AM and that you personally can’t wait to clock out of at 5 PM. It is the work of necessity. It gets you by so you can pat yourself on the back for slogging through another day, another week, month, or year of putting up with an overbearing boss and snooty co-workers. This type of work is the kind in which you don’t really want to be doing it in the first place. You suck it up and fake it for however many hours because you have to. You only do it for the money because, well, you need the money.
This work of the world doesn’t demand necessarily commitment or dedication from you. After all, in return, it doesn’t give you any confidence or joy or peace. It’s a rat race that you only do because everyone else is doing it. You would look like a loser if you didn’t wake up everyone, toot your horn and curse your way through traffic to get to your place of doom and gloom, otherwise known as your employment. But this is the way most people live their lives because it takes too much courage to do anything else.
Those who have the courage indulge themselves in another type of work. It is the work of the soul. Of course, this work is hard too, even harder. But it’s a different kind of hardship that those who do this kind of work are willing to endure, even pay a hefty price for. The hardness here is necessary. The work of the soul requires commitment and a crushing, unmistakable courageousness. It is the work of hundreds of brilliant and not so brilliant people who turned on a light switch in their souls and decided to dedicate themselves to the goals of the heart and the work of one’s purpose.
The work of the soul is that one thing, or it could be two or three or four, that pulls you forward and pushes you continuously. It gets you excited and inspires you to truly work at it no matter what helps threatens to get in your work. There’s no such thing as blue Monday or hump Wednesday or even thank God it’s Friday for the work of the soul. Because every single day is one of opportunity and possibility and choice. Work is then glorious, even sacred. It bleeds but it does so only because it will produce something that was worth it.
When you find something to do in life that you love so much, it becomes so much easier to do the hard work and the heavy lifting that is required to get it done. It doesn’t really matter what your work is. What matters is that you find something that you would do every day of your life that you don’t have to retire from. When you’re doing the hard work of the work you love in the context of happiness and purpose, you tend to complain way less about doing whatever it takes to reach your goals and accomplish achievement. So smile first because you have meaningful work to do and then even the sweat to make it happen is a pleasure. Embrace the mandatory hard work to reach your dreams.
“You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.”
— Alan Alda