Unhappy Humans at work.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” —Steve Jobs

I feel it is so cliché having to quote Steve Jobs, however, if he is quoted that much is because he is so damn right. When I first watched his Stanford Commencement Address, I felt inspired (who doesn’t?). I really love the way he becomes intimate by sharing stories… so today, I want to share a Happy story with you.

After inspiration faded away, I began asking myself about what I love. I had a great job at an agency I still consider to be family and community instead of a team work… but back then, I didn’t want to settle so I thought “Gee, what is it that I love doing that much?”

After some introspection, I found that I’m an evolving human being with a curiosity as dangerous as that of a cat. Secondly, I found that I’m a sucker for information: I love procrastinating, cool-hunting, researching if you must call it in a “professional” sounding way. After winning the lottery (I’ve never won the lottery but I think that finding this kind of insights ought to feel like that), another me (a sleazy alter-ego), whispered in my ear that I couldn’t make a living on what I am or what I love doing; that maybe this Steve Jobs’ advice meant that I had to learn to love what I did instead of going after what I loved.

Later I knew that thinking this way was a highway to mediocracy.

~

I consider myself as a modest cat. I don’t really need nor want much to live. All I need is to express. Since childhood, all I wanted to be was an artist. I wanted to create beautiful images for the world to enjoy. I wanted to capture emotion on a single perfectly crafted frame. I wanted to share a point of view and create concepts that would entice people so much that we would change our way to look at the world together. That’s what great art is all about.

From an industry perspective, all I wanted was to create  sticky heart-felt ideas such as MasterCard’s “Priceless” campaign or McDonald’s “I’m Loving It” campaign.

“Too dreamy” the sleazy alter-ego thought.

Due to [insert any excuse here], I ended up in the advertising world: jumping from one agency to another, working along with fantastic creative human beings, learning to do and forcing myself to love a job for which I invested myself for so many years at the university… but there was a catch: I never wanted to be a MadWoman. I never aimed to travel and shoot T.V. commercials, design billboards or build websites. I never dreamed of winning Cannes Lions or Clios. I never thought of myself as a selling agent and I never saw myself as a commodity to the marketing/sales department.

So I left. I’ve never had trouble [inserting any excuse here] to leave but this time I didn’t excuse myself, this time I was brutally honest about why I wanted to leave.

I trust my intuition when it comes to the heart matters and as well as my friend the rat Remy, I too have a highly developed sense of smell and I can tell when something’s rotten in Denmark… I know when things just don’t feel right.

I’ve left so many jobs that my resume starts being asked about my leaving, but it’s not the jobs thing or the Human Resources inquiries what’s important. What’s important here is that I left my love and my dream too.

~

Over year ago, I had an epiphany, a brief moment of clarity that “the art of choosing is also the art of leaving and that the art of leaving is also the art of finding the unexpected.” A happy friend who now lives in Budapest with her husband and beautiful girls even shared a poem with me about this losing art.

Now, when I think about this epiphany I think it’s true but it’s bullshit at the same time. I realise how stupid “choosing” is. I found that I don’t have to choose anything since choosing is the art of closing to posibilites because “something is desired”, and that this “desire” is nothing but a mutating opinion.

And there’s nothing more stupid than to be miserable over mutating opinions, meaning: doing what you don’t love. If you don’t know what you love, you are doomed to spend your days “excusing” yourself for your non-development, for your unproductiveness, for your wasted time, for your unhappiness.

This is how I can define failure and in spite of my professional career advancements, I’ve been productive at failing for so many years.

However, when I think about my Failure Master, it is fair to think about the Happy Human Company I discovered unexpectedly and that made this MBA bearable: valuable gems of advice and warm hearts have crossed the sky and lit my way.

Last year, a-now-happy-back-then-miserable-soon-to-be-dad friend of mine hated his agency responsibilities as much as I did. He resigned his status quo to work independently and build a pizza joint.

He recommended me that I had to read Scott Belsky, here’s an advice extracted from his book “Making Things Happen” :

“Productivity is not about how efficient you are at work. Productivity is really about how well you are to make an impact in what matters most to you.”

A box of full of paint, watercolours, pastels, ink and brushes; folders of quality artist papers and canvases; a box of written notebooks, newspaper cut-ups and random papers lay in my house. Loads of word documents, spreadsheets and annotations are stored in my computer. Tons of ideas in my head waiting to meet the world.

Yes, I know what I love. I commit myself to be truly productive.

I hope you commit to your love too.

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Happiness: You’re doing it wrong

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Oh the Internet… It is amazing how it is filled with inspiring quotes and cats and rants and advice and LOL things and random things as this.

It’s 10:10 a.m. I should be working but I’m guess I’m procrastinating, using my time to find anything curious and useful… or not. I wear my earphones but no music is playing, I’m just pretending to be busy so people won’t disturb me in inspiration hunting. I’m on Pinterest, when I find this image posted by some apparel store. I stop. I don’t like it. I don’t pin it. It just makes me think whether it is some actionable recommendation or not.

“Think Happy Thoughts” seems like an easy reminder, however, it’s not. Instead of a motivator, I think this quote is a stressor. What if I forget this piece of advice? What if these happy thoughts aren’t truly mine? What if these happy thoughts are a distorted tale I tell myself for the sake of happiness at my own convenience, ignoring, and what’s worst, choosing to forget how things truly are? Been there, done that. Awful.

Being happy is not about thinking: It’s about being.
Thinking is a habit of the smart (read “Happy vs Smart” the very first post of this blog). Thinking is something you learn, you’re trained for. Thinking is something, that if you don’t build as a habit, you forget to do.

Being is something inherent to yourself. It’s what you are. Happiness is like air, you cannot choose not to breathe. Happiness is what you become, consciously or not, by your thoughts, actions and words, and since we are always changing our actions, we never “are”. We are always becoming. Constant change all along the watchtower! (ok, not this has nothing to do here, but I like this song!)

Descartes said “I think, therefore I am”. Sure it works like that as well but personally, I find it too elaborate for a living. I say, stop thinking, over-thinking. Reconcile with your feelings and start being. Being what you want to be without judgment, without constraints. There’s nothing wrong with feeling for the sake of feeling. Feel sad if you must, Feel happy if you have to. Feel love above all.

Word of advice: feelings are great. Beware what you think about your feelings.

So, stop thinking happy thoughts, read this NY Times article and don’t fall in the trap of positive thinking, wishful thinking.

Just feel. Just be.