Why did I find myself going from the life of the party to someone seeking purpose in work?
I’m the type of person who attempts juice every positive emotion from any given moment. Never in short supply of joy, however, how I obtained this emotion has evolved overtime.
This started with chasing youthful passions, became the highs of partying, before striving for purposeful work.
From the rush of playing, to the elation of dancing, to carving my own way.
But why the change?
The law of polarity.
The law of polarity is the principle that everything has two “poles”: good and evil, love and hate, attraction and disconnection. By extrapolating this we find that you can't feel the high of one emotion, without the depths of another.
No hope without fear, envy without desire, ecstasy without grief.
Consequently, we don't have a choice in the emotions we feel, we only choose how we arrive at them. I see transitions through life as a reflection of these choices changing.
My first transition came from attempting to regain control of that choice of where I found joy. The second was a choice in how I found it.
My journey of regaining control is a story of escapism. One that was triggered when the joy I once felt playing a sport I loved was no longer worth the suffering. Where what was once a game became an exam, every training an assessment. Every move analysed as I strove for a standard I had no control over.
When I failed to live up to the expectations placed upon me, I entered a shame spiral. I was no longer able to live with the disappointment. The joy I once found in the challenge of the game, I now sought to find in the highs of drinking and dancing.
By now choosing a life where I found joy in the cheap thrills I became controlled by my instant gratification monkey. Work became a tool to fuel my desire for more. The equation became more leisure, more drinking, more fun.
It’s only now I realise this was a symptom of the culture I found myself in. One where you jump on the conveyor belt of life. Where you go to school to get into uni, uni to get a degree, a degree to get internships and internships to get a full-time job. Why? Because that was the safest bet. The surest way to earn enough money to be able to go out on the weekend, to go on holidays, to buy a house one day. All the ingredients to a happy life.
However, when pausing to take a look at the recipe I was forced to stop. It wasn’t because it was technically wrong. It was the discomfort of the underlying notion that these things would be the roots to my happiness. I realised I was designing my life around a principle that didn’t make sense to me.
In this reality the purpose of work was so I could buy joy. A transaction where in exchange for the 9 - 5 grind, I was free to spend my remaining time in a way I considered was a life worth living. Parties, holidays, events, anything that would give me a high and lead to an escape of my day to day reality.
It’s from this realisation that I decided I no longer wanted to be a cook, someone following predefined recipes but to become a chef, someone who is purposeful in their trade. To change and redesign how I found my joy.
Buddha’s “life is suffering” echoes around my head. From this perspective the key to fulfilment is finding a cause worth suffering for and living to make that cause a reality. Or more simply, aligning the change you want to create in the world with your career.
This paradigm empowers us to see our relationship with work through a new lens. Whereby in doing purposeful work, you may in the moment of work feel discomfort. However, in consequence you attain fulfilment as the change comes to life.
It's a mindset shift. One from chasing highs, to investing in them. The equivalent to borrowing money to investing it. In one instance you pay it back, in the other it pays you back.
We all face this decision. However, we rarely see it in this way. Do we invest in a change that we want to create and receive dividends of fulfilment as it eventuates? Or work for the money, where you earn a dollar and try to purchase the emotion?
In one instance, you suffer to buy the joy. In the other, you suffer to achieve it.
For one, their joy is tied to money, to another, money is a by-product of their joy.
This is how I found myself going from the life of the party to someone seeking purpose in work.
Where do you find yourself?
To receive a weekly newsletter on:
One thing I’ve learnt to ponder between sips of your iced oat latte.
One essay from me, that on average I promise will be slightly above average.
One entertaining failure from my week.