This guest post is by my friend and co-author Joel D Canfield. His newest book (his tenth!) is cheekily titled You Don’t Want A Job, newly available on Amazon. I can attest that it cogently analyzes the ‘risks’ and rewards of being self-employed. Please make him welcome:
We don’t let it define us. We rarely let it stop us. Where ordinary folks use fear as a compass to show them what to run from, we use it as an anti-compass, to show us what to run toward.
We spend our days overcoming. We don’t avoid, we conquer.
We are driven. We don’t put in time waiting for the next day off, we thrive on the challenges.
We are solitary. We don’t look for approval, we create it within ourselves.
Sometimes, it’s not enough. It’s largely because humans are social creatures.
Confidence is the juice in your veins, but it’s tiring to always break trail instead of strolling once in a while.
It’s important not to need approval but it’s nice to hear it.
Loving your work is so much better than the alternative, but running the machine flat out will burn it up, and quicker than you think.
We get precious little confirmation from the world at large.
Let’s get some from modern science, then, eh?
The Psychology of Happiness Is On Your Side
Here are some quotes from my newest book. Since I’m not a scientist, and possibly not even modern, they’re from a couple chaps you may have heard of. Just in case you’re not familiar, I’ll introduce them both. (Emphasis in all quotes is mine.)
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Flow
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is noted for his work in the study of happiness and creativity. He is best known as the architect of the concept of flow, the altered state of consciousness we sometimes find ourselves in when totally engaged with a challenging task. Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association, described Csikszentmihalyi as the world’s leading researcher on positive psychology.
Csikszentmihalyi on why it matters what we do for a living, and whose job it is:
“Because for most of us a job is such a central part of life, it is essential that this activity be as enjoyable and rewarding as possible. Yet many people feel that as long as they get decent pay and some security, it does not matter how boring or alienating their job is. Such an attitude, however, amounts to throwing away almost 40 percent of one’s waking life. And since no one else is going to take the trouble of making sure that we enjoy our work, it makes sense for each of us to take on this responsibility.” — Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, p. 101-2.
Abraham Maslow and What We Need
Our second expert is Abraham Maslow, whose name is forever tied to his theory of self-actualization as illustrated in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
From Maslow we learn that personal growth, not complacency, is the path to happiness.
“All people in our society (with a few pathologic exceptions) have a need or desire for a stable, firmly based, usually high evaluation of themselves, for self-respect, or self-esteem, and for the esteem of others. These needs may therefore be classified into two subsidiary sets. These are, first, the desire for strength, for achievement, for adequacy, for mastery and competence, for confidence in the face of the world, and for independence and freedom. …More and more today . . . there is appearing widespread appreciation of their central importance, among psychoanalysts as well as among clinical psychologists.
“Satisfaction of the self-esteem need leads to feelings of self-confidence, worth, strength, capability, and adequacy, of being useful and necessary in the world. But thwarting of these needs produces feelings of inferiority, of weakness, and of helplessness.” — Motivation and Personality by Abraham H. Maslow, p 45
Again from Maslow, consider these benefits of seeing a higher purpose in our own actions:
- Living at the higher need level means greater biological efficiency, greater longevity, less disease, better sleep, appetite, etc.
- Higher need gratifications produce more desirable subjective results, i.e., more profound happiness, serenity, and richness of the inner life.
- Pursuit and gratification of higher needs represent a general healthward trend, a trend away from psychopathology.
- A greater value is usually placed upon the higher need than upon the lower by those who have been gratified in both.
- The pursuit and the gratification of the higher needs have desirable civic and social consequences.
- The pursuit and gratification of the higher needs leads to greater, stronger, and truer individualism.
- The lower needs are far more localized, more tangible, and more limited than are the higher needs. Hunger and thirst are much more obviously bodily than is love, which in turn is more so than respect. In addition, lower need satisfiers are much more tangible or observable than are higher need satisfactions. Furthermore, they are more limited in the sense that a smaller quantity of gratifiers is needed to still the need. Only so much food can be eaten, but love, respect and cognitive satisfactions are almost unlimited.
from Motivation and Personality by Abraham H. Maslow, p 98-100
You. Right There. Take a Bow
Taking responsibility for our own personal and financial condition is a tough job. The experts I respect tell us that it’s a job worth doing.
You’re doing it. Give yourself a big round of applause.