Doing What We Love (Or Not)

What prevents us from doing what we love? Some of us blame it on laziness, others on our other commitments we have to attend to, and they probably are relevant factors. But as I started to introspect into my own mind on this issue, I discover one very important factor that others have not discussed, at least not very often. It is this subtle fear that whenever we do something we love, we are doing it the wrong way.

When does an activity go from being fun to being work? Is it the amount of time and effort that we put into it? Yes, this is certainly a very large factor, but as you start looking for example you will find a lot of exceptions. Many people put a lot of effort into gambling, dancing, and playing video games for fun. Another factor must be involved, and I think I know what it is. Whenever an activity turned from being “fun” to being “work” was usually the point when someone tells me the way I was doing the “fun” activity was “wrong” and that I have to do it the correct way.

The first time (that I have a conscious awareness of) this happening was when I was in kindergarten. As any other kindergartener I loved drawing. The living room wall was plastered with the childish pictures I drew at school. My parents eventually decided to send me to a class where I learned to draw “properly.” (That is, not like a child.) I learned tons of rules about how to draw, such as how to hold a brush correctly, the proper techniques for making brush strokes, how to blend colors, etc. After a few years of these classes I was completely cured of my urge to draw.

I find that whenever we try to engage in an activity, one of the biggest barriers is this fear that we will do it in the “wrong” way. Take anything that you enjoy doing, but having someone tell you that you are doing it wrong, and it will usually take away your joy quicker than anything. Whether it is writing a book, learning how to dance, writing a computer program, this is a cause for endless procrastination. The problem is that sometimes there is a right way to do something. For example, suppose you were a brain surgeon, there is definitely “wrong” ways of doing your job. Even though this fear is real, it also is a major psychological blockage for most people.

I don’t think there are any good ways of resolving this problem. The only way around this problem is to be delusional enough to believe that you are doing your job correctly yet not so delusional that you will not accept any criticisms of what you do.

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