When I was younger I found myself ebbing and flowing through being happy, being complacent, and being unhappy.
It seemed like I would work hard and it would make me happy and I would accomplish things that were important. Then I would gain an entitlement mindset and feel that I shouldn’t have to work so hard to be successful.
This would shift my work from being one filled with effort and quality, to an approach where I was always looking for the shortcut. Eventually this would lead to unhappiness.
I didn’t realize that I was in control of this feedback loop. The more I followed shortcuts and slacked off, the more likely I would be unhappy. The unhappier I was the more I would look for shortcuts and feel too entitled to work hard.
Luckily I was able to see what was happening. But even after I saw the structure, I continued to follow it and found it difficult to change.
It actually took a lot of work to slowly change the way I approached work. I had to tackle my sense of entitlement, I had to stop searching for shortcuts and start looking for improvements, and I had to realize that we could be happy and content and still work hard.
The key is to learn how to be content. Being content means that we don’t need anything more to be happy. Everything we need to be happy is right here, right now and it is up to us to accept that contentment.
But the key here is to avoid becoming complacent. Too often we don’t really feel content so we start to accept the situation as something we can’t change but that we don’t like.
Instead, we can slowly shift our approach. We can start to work on constant improvement and work to grow and get better. But if we maintain the content mindset we can do so not from a drive out of pain or unhappiness, but through a calm, confident, happy frame of mind.
To me this is one of the most important lessons I learned in life and one that I had to struggle with before I started to understand. Being content and happy is something that is available to all of us and something that can help us grow and improve, rather than something to slow us down or leads us towards shortcuts and complacency.