“Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.” – George Eliot
“The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.” – Elbert Hubbard
“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” – Arnold J. Toynbee
Last week I wrote about serendipity and how it has worked for me in my writing career. Trusting that serendipity will happen is a key element to being successful, but you can’t just sit back and let serendipity happen. Some say it takes hard work, but instead of hard work, I like to think of it as focused attention.
The reason I like to replace the words hard work with focused attention is because when we think of hard work, we equate it with stress and strain. However, I’ve learned from being involved in the theatre that hard work can be fun, fulfilling and energizing. If you like what you do, you can be focusing your attention on the task at hand, but it won’t feel stressful; it will be fun.
I’m sure you’ve experienced what I’m writing about. You’re doing something that captures your attention. You love every aspect of whatever it is you’re doing. It might be building a sand castle, skiing, playing with you children, cooking, or gardening. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, it’s your feeling about it that makes the difference. Time slips by and suddenly you realize that you were so absorbed in what you were doing that it seems like only a moment has gone by since you started your project. That’s focused attention.
Our souls rejoice when we’re doing what brings us joy. Isn’t that a much better way to live than dragging yourself out of bed every work day and dreading being there for the interminably long hours before you can go home? Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if everyone woke up excited to get to the work they love? So why do so many people stress themselves out doing work they hate?
Many of us cling to the old idea that we have to support ourselves somehow. Most of the time we think that means sacrificing doing what we love so we can put a roof over our heads and food on the table. I’d like to challenge that idea. Everyone of us can live the life of our dreams. It may take some effort to transition from our old life to our new, but that’s where focused attention and serendipity can help.
Our minds are powerful beyond what we may think. Many people are convinced that events happen TO us, but science and the ancient wisdom traditions tell us that what we think creates our reality. If we think we must stay trapped doing work we hate for twenty, thirty, or forty years before we can do what we love, we’ll be miserable most of our lives. I don’t know about you but I didn’t want to face that prospect.
I won’t say I was always completely successful in my efforts to find work I loved. I loved doing theatre, but it didn’t pay much and took up a great deal of my time. I missed many a family gathering because I was in rehearsal. The day came when I had to decided what was more important to me, my relationship with my husband, or theatre. I gave up theatre. But then a few years later, I got a job teaching drama. Ah, I could do what I loved and still go home at night to my husband. Yet there were aspects of teaching that were stressful. Teaching drama was nearly the right match but not quite. While I was getting my Masters in theatre, I discovered that I loved writing, but not many writers make a good living. So I buried the idea of becoming a writer and moved on.
The thing is that through the years I continued to believe that I would find the work I was meant to do. I kept my attention focused on doing what I loved to do as much as possible. One day, I remembered that I’d wanted to be a writer, but somewhere along the way I’d become convinced I couldn’t make a living doing what I loved most. My mind was split in two and clouded with thoughts that only the most special people are lucky enough to be successful at the thing they love doing. I tried to stay close to my first love. Almost all my jobs throughout the years involved some aspect of story telling, but I was never the story teller and that’s what I longed to do.
Who knows why we block our own happiness. However, something inside me kept prompting me to keep searching for the thing that would make me deeply and completely joyful. One day my focused attention paid off. Something clicked in my head and I realized I just needed to make the decision that writing is what I was going to do no matter what and that’s when serendipity began to work for me.
I haven’t published my first novel yet. Who knows if it will sell millions of copies. If it sells one or thousand copies, my efforts will be worth the years of work. Something else wonderful has happened during this process, I’ve met other authors by writing reviews of their books. I didn’t know that they would contact me when I wrote the reviews, it just happened that way. So, I’m creating positive change by meeting and supporting fellow authors and by allowing myself to tune into something greater than myself as I write my blog and books. Every little positive ripple changes the world. Because I believe that is true, I encourage you to find ways to do what you love even if it’s only in your spare time. Who knows where that focused effort will lead you.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015