Gretchem Rubin, in a recent posting on her “Happiness Blog,” wrote about a conversation she had with retired Justice Sandra Day O’Conner. (In her earlier life as lawyer Grethen clerked for the justice.)
Reading it brings to mind the men we have met who enjoy “Celebrating the Ordinary.” Like the ones we have been interviewing and filming, men who seem to be happy when they are working on their projects: collecting bricks, milk bottles, vacuum cleaners; moving rocks to build seawall; photographing postboxes; baking bread; Roundabout Appreciation Society.
Excerpt from Gretchen’s’ blog about her interview with Justice O’Conner:
“I can tell you what I believe is the secret to a happy life,” the justice said.
“What’s that? What’s your secret?”
“Work worth doing,” she answered firmly.
“What about relationships?” I asked. From what I can tell, looking at modern science and ancient philosophy, if you had to pick a single factor as the one most likely to lead to a happy life, having strong relationships would be a strong candidate. Of course, most people form a lot of strong relationships at work.
“No,” she said. “Work worth doing, that’s all you really need.”
“Can I quote you?” I asked.
“Yes, yes,” she said.
The more I’ve thought about “work worth doing,” the more I realize the brilliance of this three-word encapsulation. Because, of course, “work” can mean so many different things, to different people; and for us to do work that’s “worth doing” means that we must choose work that reflects our values. If you feel that your work is pointless, well, that’s not good. And most of us have many kinds of work: work-work, and relationships-work, and self-work, for instance.