Happiness = Fulfillment + Community. Should You Do What You Love?

On a bike ride today I came up with two equations:

  • Happiness = Fulfillment + Community
  • Fulfillment = Purpose + Execution

I think this accurately sums it up for me. Though I imagine everyone is different. Here’s how I define the terms:

  • Fulfillment = Doing things I find fulfilling and/or enjoyable.
  • Purpose = the “why” of why one is doing something. This is often overlooked or lacking. Money and fame are terrible purposes that are practically never fulfilling on their own, though they can be tools leveraged for something more meaningful. It’s important to clarify one’s purpose and long-term goals.
  • Execution = Actually doing it and making progress towards some longer term goal. Purpose without execution is just dreaming.
  • Community = A good group of friends, good relationships, fulfilling social life

I was watching an interview where an ex-porn star who now apparently makes porn vlogs was complaining about life feeling meaningless and feeling down and depressed lately. Well obviously. When your life has no meaningful purpose, what do you expect?

Should you “do what you love?

One common trope is to “do what you love”. This advice used to annoy the hell out of me because I felt it was totally unrealistic and ignored the reality of having to make money to survive. I love learning about things, wanting to bring basic income to the world, writing articles / making videos, making music, etc., but it doesn’t mean I can make a living doing any of these. At the end of the day I need money to survive, and the very act of having to monetize anything destroys any enjoyment of it. Right?

Now I’m realizing that the advice above is correct. But I’d add a little bit more nuance to it.

First of all, one does have to be realistic. There’s no getting around that you do need to make a minimum amount of money to survive. If you’re broke and have bills to pay, then there’s no shame in picking up a non-ideal job just to make ends meet. Just don’t make the mistake of spending the rest of your life in some miserable job putting your dreams on hold. Marcus Buckingham says that staying in a job you hate is psychologically damaging. I can personally attest to this.

But what about that person who really enjoys music, but they just suck at it and/or aren’t able to make enough money to support themselves through it? Or somebody who loves playing basketball and want’s to be a professional, but is 5’4″ and just not good enough?

I think that most people think too small, a symptom of having a weak purpose. Ask yourself “why do you want to be a famous musician”? If the answer is just “because I enjoy it”, then that’s fine. If you truly enjoy it enough to do whatever it takes to achieve this dream, then you will find a way to make it work. But if your answer is because you want to be rich, famous, and every other job looks lamer, then your purpose probably isn’t strong enough to stick around long enough to succeed in it.

If your goal is simply to win an Olympic gold medal or be the best boxer in the world, you may be surprised to find that when you actually achieve your goal, instead of being in this pure state of eternal bliss, you may just be thinking “ok, now what?”

More than likely your purpose is not so narrowly specific. You probably have many positive and unique strengths and perspectives you can bring to the world. How about instead of just trying to be a famous musician, be someone who contributes to the world in the best capacity they can? Not just climbing up some predefined ladder, but creating their own path in this world?

Most people see someone like Lebron James and think that they want to be just like him. But there is only one Lebron James, just like there is only one you. We all have something unique to bring to the table, so don’t simply confine yourself to the paths that other people have already carved. Create your own path.

Instead of striving to simply be a famous musician, entrepreneur, or influencer one should strive for a more meaningful purpose. Spreading love to the world, inspiring others, sharing your unique perspective, ending poverty, curing the mental health crisis, saving the planet, bringing us to the moon, bringing a voice to the voiceless, connecting us closer to each other, etc.

People with these stronger more meaningful purposes are more likely to create a life doing what they love. I think people like Gary Vaynerchuk and Steve Jobs definitely fit into this category. Both of them obviously love(d) what they do and are not/weren’t just in it for the money. Gary V is doing so many different things, many of them totally out of the norm like what he’s doing with NFTs, and he’s so obviously passionate and enthusiastic about what he does. Elon Musk would be another example of someone extremely driven by what they enjoy. You should also strive to live doing what you love like these people, but again create your own path – don’t just try to copy these people because what works for them won’t necessarily work for you.

What you should not strive for is climbing up some corporate ladder in some career path that you don’t give a rat’s ass about. That doesn’t mean that if you don’t love your job that you need to quit your job or abandon your career. Maybe you just haven’t found the right job for you yet.

Again, this does not mean you need to be an entrepreneur and create some billion dollar companies. The point is to do what you enjoy., driven by a strong purpose. If your purpose is just to get rich and famous, then you will probably be no happier than the corporate wage slave with golden handcuffs because your life has no meaningful purpose. When you add value to other peoples’ lives, then naturally you will capture some of that and/or be able to monetize it.

Maybe I’m just pumped up after having watched some motivational videos/podcasts (eg. Charlie Rocket’s interview on Impaulsive inspired the hell out of me last night). I realized I’ve been neglecting my passions and living too comfortably. I truly believe that doing work you don’t enjoy for too long is psychologically damaging. It makes one accustomed to torture and suppressing one’s dreams, and the longer you go down this path the harder it is to get out. Dare I say that a comfortable wagie job is almost like a drug. But I’ll caveat that by emphasizing that of course one needs to be realistic and do what they can to make ends meet.

But if you have 1-2 years of savings, hate your job, and have a clear plan of what you want to do, but aren’t executing then what the hell are you waiting for? If you don’t yet know what you want to do and have a plan, then figure that out, get out there and start doing it, and stop wasting your life.

It’s 3:26am right now. Sorry if I’m sounding repetitive. Anyways I’m not just preaching here and will be walking the walk, stay tuned…

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