On doing things

October 3, 2017

When browsing BrainPickings’ archive today, I came across Philosopher Erich Fromm on the Art of Loving and What Is Keeping Us from Mastering It, in which an observation on how people perceive love is described:

Most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather than that of loving, of one’s capacity to love. Hence the problem to them is how to be loved, how to be lovable.

People think that to love is simple, but that to find the right object to love — or to be loved by — is difficult.

Going beyond the context of human love, I found this to be a powerful advice on looking at the relationship between us and our works. Among many others, consider the two reasons we are attracted to what we do: to gain popular votes, or just for the joy of doing it?

Happiness coming from others’ approval should not be mistaken as love, or as the reason to love our works. It is merely a side effect of doing the job.

“Approvable work or not?” and “Loving what you do or not?” are two different questions.