“The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.” –Julia Margaret Cameron

Delight in what you’re doing each day. All day. Every day.

Delight can be contagious – pass it on to your customers, your stakeholders, your employees and subcontractors, your family.

Why are you doing this work if not to create some delight in your life?

“Happiness is a direction, not a place.” –Sydney J. Harris

What if the work you’re doing today is one of the best sources for the delight you’re seeking in this life?

Turned around: what would your work look like if you treated it as a contributor to the meaning and delight in your life?

How would you do the work in front of you today?

Your work has a big role to play in making meaning of your life, as well as creating delight and happiness. Moments of any task offer the possibility of experiencing delight. You need to pay attention, be present, to that potential. Sometimes you need to actively create the conditions for delight, especially in tasks that are undesirable. Sometimes you just need to let go and be ‘in the task’ at that moment.

If you haven’t already, I recommend you take a look at the concept of flow discussed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in a TED talk: Flow, the Secret to Happiness.

I don’t know about you, but frequently I fall into the mindset of just having to get stuff done – and maybe that means doing my not-so-favorite tasks, but I need to ‘hold my nose’ or ‘swallow the frog’ and work through them, right? So that I can make something bigger happen. Hmmm…

As the queen of delayed gratification, I have spent much of my life with my head down getting stuff done in the service to some greater accomplishment. And I’ve recently realized a couple things – realized not just intellectually but deep in my soul:

  1. Life, that precious gift, is what happens in those small moments of every hour each day when I have my head down trying to get stuff done.
  2. Spending too much time sacrificing the present for the future also wears your body down in addition to your soul. I’ve actually got a ton of autoimmune issues – all-consuming, uncomfortable, big impact issues – because I sacrificed myself on the altar of delayed gratification. Turns out I have a great capacity for pushing through discomfort, living in stress, and asserting my will over my body. And while much of our culture rewards that behavior, it’s really not serving a life of happiness. And too often, life ends before realizing all this…

We have a choice:

  1. Spend the time we’re given in this life – any of the time – ferreting out and living into the delight in our tasks OR
  2. Keep our head down on tasks that seem dull, unpleasant, or taxing and just muddle through. We might justify the muddling through approach by saying: “this won’t last forever, just deal with it” or some such thing.

One of the benefits of living into your work as a source of delight is that your customers will feel it. And you can intentionally create delight for them out of your own.

A lot of brand marketing, advertising, and customer journey work in marketing includes creating delight for customers. And that covers anything from special and fun packaging (think of the unboxing experience) to the buying experience to product features. All of those ideas do create a certain type of delight for customers because they’re unexpected pleasures. And if those experiences require significant work to create, customers can feel that effort coming through.

However… think about this: have you ever bought an handmade product from an artisan who loves what they do? And had a conversation with them about their work or their product or their service? Most often, their passion for what they’re creating for you comes through in their description and energy. The delight they take in creating something of value for you becomes evident. And then you feel delight too. And that delight gets carried in whatever you bought so that it becomes a pleasant memory when you engage with the product or remember the service – that delight is inseparable from whatever you purchased. You’ve taken home a little piece of the artisan’s exuberance and passion.

That kind of delight isn’t just created out of a packaging experience. And its impact isn’t determined by the effort put into creating the experience to delight you. When communicated to your customer, the delight that comes out of the passion you feel for the work you do stays with your customer a long time. They have a little piece of your energy and that makes the product or service not only a thing in itself, but a symbol of a warm, inspiring experience.

Letting delight into your work life helps you enjoy life and maintain a healthy balance. And when you share your passion and delight with your customers, you brighten their lives too.

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