Finding the Joy!
One of the keys to fulfillment is to be doing something that has a purpose. Something you really care about. Something that you believe will make a positive difference in the world. When you’re passionately engaged in this kind of activity – even though you may be working really hard – it doesn’t feel like work. Instead, it brings a sense of joy. Some people have the great fortune to find this sense of purpose in their job that provides income. For others, they find immensely purposeful activity outside their chosen job. In either case, it is the joyful pursuit of a worthy ideal or activity that brings purpose and meaning to our lives.
This week, I think you might enjoy going back with me to a moment that occurred in 1973. A young, unknown writer from New England had just finished the first draft of a manuscript for his 4th novel and began reviewing his work. After reading a few chapters, he became so frustrated with one of the plot lines he’d written and threw it in the trash. His previous 3 novels had been rejected by publishing companies and he felt that if he couldn’t bring the goods on his 4th attempt, he may never be able to make it as a writer. The next day, the writer woke to find the manuscript back on his desk. His wife had found it in the trash and encouraged him to finish it. He’d write a few more drafts before finally submitting it to a publisher, who boldly rejected it. The writer would submit the manuscript to 30 more publishers who would all go on to reject it before it was finally picked up by a company called Doubleday. The book, titled Carrie, went on to sell over 1 million copies and inspired a feature film directed by Brian de Palma. The young writer, named Steven King, would go on to publish over 85 books, 200 short stories, and win numerous awards for his contributions to literature.
Years later, when reflecting on his career, and the moment he threw his first manuscript for Carrie in the trash, he said, “I realized I never want to set a single word down on paper with the thought of being paid for it. I have written because it fulfilled me. Maybe it paid off the mortgage on the house and got the kids through college, but those things were on the side--I did it for the buzz. I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for the joy, you can do it forever."
Do it for the joy. I find those words remarkable. Remarkable because it’s estimated that each of us will spend a third of our lifetime working. With so much time committed to our work, what we choose to do has an enormous impact on how we find joy in our lives. I think I speak for many when I say there have been jobs I’ve had where it’s hard to see the joy at all. There’ve also been jobs that were so fulfilling that I would wake up excited to continue the work. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to ask whether or not the work we take on serves a higher purpose for ourselves. Does your work bring you joy directly, or does it allow you to do so in other parts of our lives? Does it do both? Does it allow you to spend more time with your kids, work on that hobby you hope to turn into a business, travel, or volunteer? Is it simply a means of paying the bills? If there’s one thing this crazy year has put into perspective, it’s that the things which bring us joy, the very things that make life worthwhile, should never be taken for granted. And if we’re meant to spend a third of our lives doing something, shouldn’t that thing bring us a sense of joy and fulfillment?
With all the experiences and uncertainty 2020 has brought into our lives, the new year therefore offers us an opportunity to make sure the work we do brings us the joy you seek, and the joy you deserve. And, if you find that your job is not fulfilling and for whatever reason you can’t make a change, then see if there is some ‘work’ – outside your job – where you can devote your energies to a purposeful pursuit. It’s a surefire way to get excited about life. And, even though you may be exerting extraordinary effort, the great thing is – it won’t feel like work.
The Santa Fund – Thank You ‘Union Leader!’
The Christmas season is officially upon us and what makes it such a joyous time of the year for me are the acts of kindness I see, read, and hear about throughout. And, special ‘thanks’ to the team at the New Hampshire Union Leader for all the great things they do – especially during this time of year!
So many important organizations with great causes have had to readjust their efforts this season due to the pandemic. It’s inspiring to see all the nonprofits and all the people who, despite the challenges, are still stepping up this holiday season to help make a difference. From providing warm meals or a blanket to those in need, to ensuring that every child has a toy this holiday season, it goes without saying that those serving our communities will all be on Santa‘s ‘nice list’ this year. But there is one organization that truly leads the way with their continuous impact on our community, the New Hampshire Union Leader and their Santa Fund. This Christmas season, they’re not just serving as news leaders and news distributors, they’re also making an incredible contribution in community support.
For nearly 60 years the union leader has partnered with the Salvation Army to make sure those children who are less fortunate wake up on Christmas morning with joy, happiness, and a very Merry Christmas. Because of the hard work and the Union leader’s efforts with the Santa Fund, they have raised over $8 million to benefit children in need through the holidays. A truly remarkable achievement that goes a long way in helping spread joy throughout the state.
I strongly encourage you to visit unionleader.com/Santafund to learn more about how you can be part of this outstanding program.
In Favor of Fairness – A Level Playing Field
We all support ‘fairness’ and are in favor of a level playing field. But, as we look out across America – during this pandemic, we see so very many instances of ‘unfairness.’ In other words, instances where government mandated shutdowns are not being applied in an even-handed manner. And, this has had and continues to be having a devastating impact on small business – the true lifeblood of our economy. Let’s stand up together for ‘fairness!’
Government has picked which businesses have to shut down and which do not. Not surprisingly, big business has done remarkably well during COVID-19. Wal-Mart, Target and other large chains have generally remained open. But, not so for so many family-owned small businesses. Many of which sell the identical types of products and goods found at Wal-Mart and Target. So, where is the fairness in this?
Unfortunately, our small businesses have been ravaged and many of the rules that have forced them to close seem arbitrary at best. This is not to say we do not want people and businesses to be safe, but any decision for government intervention must be based on logic and science. And of course, applied fairly. For instance, no one has explained why it is OK to go to Wal-Mart but not eat at a restaurant. Especially as in California – where even outdoor dining has been banned – with the explicit admission by government officials that there is zero science to support the decision. These shutdowns have sent our economy into a death spiral with massive unemployment and businesses on the brink. And, beyond the economic impact, the immeasurable harm to individuals, families and our social fabric.
I wonder - Would we see a much different approach to the shutdowns if the people who were making the decisions were in danger of losing their paychecks too? If their income was tied to those who they were shutting down, would we see some decidedly different outcomes.
Just as troubling is Congress’ and the Senate’s failure to act. Politicians are busy playing games, forcing shutdowns, and then doing nothing to help. It is time for a fundamental change in how D.C. operates. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how different things might be if the politicians’ salaries and those of their staffs were tied to the economy and the well-being of their constituents? I have a strong suspicion that the definition of ‘essential’ would be radically different if the people imposing the rules were subject to the same outcome as those that are being affected.
Ironically, the pandemic is doing a wonderful job of exposing the unfairness in our system and is providing us with a marvelous opportunity to make positive change. Let’s seize the moment!
Positive Profile of the Week: Corky Messner
As you know I have a great respect for our veterans. I also commend those who take the risk, seize the opportunity and create a business. And, I applaud those who step up and run for public office. My good friend Corky Messner has done all three and the impact he has made in New Hampshire and across the country is outstanding and appreciated.
Corky entered West Point Military Academy at the age of 17, and following his training and graduation, he served abroad in Europe during the peak of the Cold War. Today, Corky is someone who inspires enthusiasm and positive spirit. He is always there to encourage, protect and aid. There is no doubt in my mind that his actions today have been greatly influenced by his dedicated service during his military career.
After leaving the military, while raising a family Corky went to law school. It’s no easy thing to pass the bar and to do it while raising a family - It takes true commitment. And even more impressive, Corky went on to start a nationally recognized law firm – with more than one hundred attorneys - that bears his name. Messner Reeves, LLC. He did this with optimism, courage, determination, and a spirit of entrepreneurship.
This last year Corky ran as a candidate for U.S. Senate here in New Hampshire. During his race he was known as someone who was helping party teammates up and down the ticket, with an emphasis on the New Hampshire State House. While things did not work out for him on election night, Corky has not given up. Instead, he has repurposed his political efforts to continue to help fellow Republicans. He will be focusing on young people, women, and expanding in our cities. I applaud Corky for his ‘never give up or give in’ mentality and for his continued support in expanding our messaging and outreach. Thank you, Corky Messner!
Quotes of the Week: It’s Not Work!
“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
“Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.”
“Let us realize that: the privilege to work is a gift, the power to work is a blessing, the love of work is success!”
David O. McKay
“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”
“To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.”
Pearl S. Buck