One of the things I love to do for my family is cook breakfast. I usually cook scrambled eggs and toast. It’s one of the few dishes I cook that doesn’t end with the fire alarm going off and us eating at Mc Donald’s (most of the time).
Angela, my two-year old, likes to help. She’s not at the age where she can scramble eggs or anything like that but she sets the table and lets Sarah know when it’s time to eat.
As we were sitting down to breakfast recently I had an epiphany. The simple elements I enjoy about making breakfast for my family are also the same elements that lead to enjoying life:
Life is more meaningful when we’re helping people with people we love.
I had a volunteer years ago at a church I worked at who loved to teach kids but was terrible at it. I inherited him in this spot so I worked hard to coach him to be a better teacher, but it wasn’t enough. Eventually I had to ask him to stop teaching because his stories were totally inappropriate for children.
Likewise I have a friend whose great at math but hates doing it. He has a job where he uses a lot of math in his daily routine. So as a result he really hates his job. He gets paid a lot of money to do something he’s good at but really doesn’t like. I know not to ask him to help with our accounting outside of work because it drains him so much.
But I have these two friends who get it right. They are great at making video games and really enjoy it. It’s not their full-time job right now but they spend just about every waking hour after work making video games and video game tutorials for designers.
The key isn’t just to find something you like to do or something you’re good at. You’ve got to find something you’re good at AND like to do. It’s at this intersection meaning is birthed. It doesn’t have to be your full-time job. But it does need to be something you spend time discovering and doing.
Giving leads to getting happiness. There have been studies on this; that the brain experiences pleasure when it is expressing altruism. Something about how God has hard-wired us leads to generosity being one of the keys to happiness. So to be really happy we need to figure out a way to do good with the things we’re good at.
And we shouldn’t do this in a vacuum. I’m an introvert who values time alone. But when I’m alone too long it makes it harder for me to have good interactions with people. So doing things I like with people I like helps me break out of that routine in a healthy way that’s not draining.
One of the things to remember is they don’t have to be good at and like all the same things you are good at and like to do. That would be boring. But they should compliment something you don’t do well or don’t like to do and the two, three, or however many of you working together make up a whole that does good with what you’re all good at and feel good about doing.
Want to find more meaning in your life? Do something to help people with people you love.
What do you do really well, that you like doing, and that could help someone else? Who do you like that can help do that?