Fill in this blank: “I love the way I ______.” Don’t worry; no one else will hear you. What is the thing you think you do quite well? Try some of these on for size:
I love the way I cook.
I love the way I play the piano.
I love the way I can raise a garden full of vegetables.
I love the way I paint, sing in the shower, tell jokes…whatever.
There should be something, ideally several things, that you really get a kick out of doing and for which you really get a kick out of the result as well. If not, you either need to get better at the things you are sort of good at now, or quit being such a niggling perfectionist. There is scant delight to be had in a life that’s “never good enough.” Thinking ourselves modest, we are really just killing a lot of fun and enjoyment that might have been had if we’d acknowledged that sub-perfect can still be pretty amazing if we’ll allow it.
I’m going to stick in a disclaimer right here. We all know some people (I am thinking of one now) who truly believe that any effort, even the paltriest, is deserving of a great deal of pomp and circumstance and maybe a cash bonus as well. To them this post does not apply. But these are typically adults with personality disorders and illusions of grandeur, or millennials. Neither which comprise my readership I assume.
The other pseudo-modest side of the coin is to claim we do whatever it is we do for the sheer enjoyment of the act itself with no thought to the final product. Like it doesn’t matter if everything I bake turns out shit, I just so love rolling out those pie crusts or mixing up those brownies. Really?
That’s child’s play. Children do mindless, inane things with no thought to the result because they have this very special gift of living right in the very moment (not necessarily a bad thing) and also the inability to properly link cause and effect. They could be mixing up mud pies in the garden and out of the oven come chocolate chip cookies and for them there may be no great disconnect at all.
But for the adult mind there is a necessary connect. We associate good doing with good results. So I would wager that those who say they just delight in the doing also get a secret charge out of the done. And there is nothing wrong with this at all.
For example, I love the way I cook. There is almost no one else’s cooking I would rather eat than my own (‘cept Mom’s, of course). I literally astound myself in the kitchen and as a result I eat my creations with a lot of satisfaction (maybe too much satisfaction?) and delight. Does everything come out Thomas Keller-quality? Not necessarily, but I am happy in the act and usually happy in the result so when I cook something that’s a flop, I am reminded that most of the time I am knocking them out of the park.
I am also a writer, evidenced by what you are now reading, and I find I like the way I write. This wasn’t always the case, but it is more and more now. Is everything I pen Pulitzer-worthy? Obviously not, but because I write what pleases me or is humorous to me, I am equally amused by reading it.
Am I an egomaniac? Depends on whom you ask, I suppose, but in my estimation I am simply honest about the fact that I find enjoyment in the results of my labors as well the labors. And I think this is how it should be and we should be free to admit it without being thought grandiose. So here’s the takeaway: like what you do…a lot. It’s far more delightful that way.