When I was in middle school, I had a math teacher named Mr. McDaniel. Mr. McDaniel was amazing, he was a rock star teacher and everyone loved him. It was clear from the moment you met him that he loved what he did and he had a passion for teaching math. He was the kind of guy who was all-in; who gave every bit of himself to teaching math every single day. This man showed up ready to roll, and he inspired us to get excited about math and to love it just as much as he did.
He said something to the class one day that I will never forget. He said: "I love teaching math, and I'll keep teaching it as long as I feel that way. But the day that I stop loving it, is the day that I'll stop doing it."
Even back then, my young mind knew what a significant statement that was. As the years of my life have passed, I've found myself wondering how he could make such a bold statement. Was life really that simple? It certainly didn't seem that simple to me. I have always found myself feeling trapped by the things that I don't enjoy doing. I've felt that I have to suffer through them in order to be a "good" person. I thought that suffering through made me dependable, or honorable or somehow "better". But what if Mr. McDaniel was right?
What if, instead of suffering through something when I don't enjoy it, I simply stop doing it and go do something else? Just the thought of that makes me break out into a cold sweat. I am not a quitter!. But this isn't really about quitting. It's about making small adjustments and course correcting when you find that you're headed in a direction other than straight toward your North Star.
It's usually immediately obvious when someone is on the wrong path. We've all encountered the sales clerk who gives us the look of doom, the nurse or receptionist who doesn't give us their full attention, the snarky waitress, or the burnt-out professional who would rather be anywhere else on earth than at the office.
But here's the other side of the coin: I bet that Mr. McDaniel made a conscious decision to LOVE what he does. I bet that he made up his mind that he was going to be the best math teacher that he could be, despite the downfalls and the negative aspects of being a teacher. I bet that he psyched himself up every morning so that he could get into a positive mindset before he stepped foot into that classroom. Of course, I have no idea if he did those things or not, but I'd be willing to bet that most people who claim to love what they do have some sort of similar routine. Sure they may love what they do, but I'd bet that they also make a conscious choice to focus on the positive aspects of their situations, and tune out the negatives.
Earlier this week, Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables, was honored on Google for her birthday. I was browsing through the information about her, and one of her most famous quotes immediately caught my attention:
"It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will."
Maybe that's the real secret to loving what you do: simply making up your mind that you will make the most of wherever you are and whatever you are doing.
I think we always have three options in any situation:
1. Accept and embrace the situation.
2. Take action to change the situation.
3. Continue to resist the situation, not take action, and remain miserable.
The Serenity Prayer has been on display in my Mamaw's bathroom my entire life, and even though I've never sat down to memorize it, I know it by heart from just glancing at it all of those years.
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference."
I've been reading that prayer my entire life, but I'm just now really starting to understand it. That is really the struggle of life itself; knowing when to stay and when to walk away. When do you make up your mind to make it work, and dig in as hard as you can, and when do you just let go? I guess all we can do is ask God to give us the wisdom to know the difference.
What about you? Do you love what you do? Or have you ever been in a situation where you made up your mind that you would make the most of your circumstances? Let us know in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you!
Till Next time,
© Haley McManigal 2015
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