Do what you love. Love what you do.

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Do What You Love. Love What You Do.

The line above is a catchy tagline for Life is Good, don’t you think?  It’s simple, fun, phonetically playful, and memorable. But it’s far more than just a tagline. It’s a way of life. And it’s our single most important piece of advice to share with the world.

Life is Good has always been less about us, and more about the receivers of the message. As a result, the feedback we have received from our customers has always paved the way. Our customers have co-authored the story of Life is Good. We don’t dictate the exact meaning of our messages. Instead, our messages are always open to interpretation. We just throw ideas out there to get the conversations started, and then we listen and watch to see where folks take it. The best insights become part of our brand. That’s why we never feel like we’re selling something.  We always feel that the LIG community owns this movement with us. Here are a few things we’ve learned about “Do What You Love. Love What You Do.” from optimists who have inspired us through the years.

Dear Bert and John,

Do What You Love.  Love What You Do.  I noticed that both of these two short sentences use the exact same four words, but since the order of the words in each sentence is different, the meaning of the sentences becomes very different to me. Does that make sense?”

“Do What You Love” reminds me to sing. I’m not a good singer, but I love to sing anyway. There is nothing in this world that makes me happier than singing.  I have a Life is Good towel in my bathroom with the words “Do What You Love. Love What You Do” on it, and it gets me singing in the morning. Singing puts a bounce in my step on my way out the door.

The “Love What You Do” part is just as important to me. It reminds me not to be so hard on myself.  Life is not easy for me. I have had real challenges in my life. But I’m trying. I still make mistakes, but I don’t dwell on them the way I used to. Instead, I focus on my progress, and that calms me down. I’m not perfect by any stretch, believe me. But I’m a better person than I used to be. And I’m proud of who I am today. I honestly couldn’t say that in years past. My friends today are my friends for life, and my students count on me to be there for them.

So for me it all boils down to this: I know I have my best days when I let myself sing a little, and I know I improve the most when I allow myself to be my own biggest fan. I know these things, no question about it, but I sure do appreciate the reminder on my orange towel.

Sincerely,

Tiara

School Teacher, Chicago

Most people we hear from perceive “Do What You Love” to be about action.  It says “Do,” not “Say,” so that makes sense. It seems to tell people not to think so much all the time. To relax the mind and do what feels good. Your body is wise. Listen to your body. If your body wants to run, run!

“Do What You Love” tells some people to go mountain biking or fishing, do yoga, take a nice walk in the woods with their dog, play football or go for a refreshing dip in the ocean.  We are physical creatures and we sometimes forget that in the digital age. Our bodies were made to move.

“Do What You Love” tells other people to read a great book, create a delicious meal, get your hands dirty with some gardening or play guitar. These may seem like little things, and they are at the time we are doing them. But for more than twenty years now, we’ve heard folks from all walks of life tell us over and over that regularly doing what they love has an enormous impact on their energy, their self image, their performance at work, their coping skills, the health of their relationships, and their overall happiness.

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Many tell us that “Love What You Do” is about pride in one’s actions – in other words, living in such a way that when you look back on your actions, you feel satisfaction. That view requires a wide-angle lens. It’s about living a fulfilling life, a life with purpose.

In recent years, we have been inspired by Generation Y, “The Millennials.”  Never before had we interviewed people for positions at Life is Good who ask more questions about our nonprofit work than they do about our for-profit work. They want real purpose in their lives, and they’re not shy about it.  They ask about our vision for making the world a better place before they even ask how much the job pays. They want to make a difference.  Millennials are our kind of people.  They seem determined to Love What They Do.  We’re fired up about the quality of people coming our way.

 Some people see the words as advice about career paths, like Ted, a recent college graduate who interned with us a few years ago.

Hey LIG!

It’s me Ted!  How’s everybody doin’?  Do you miss me? I can’t believe you’re able to stay in business without me. JK J

I also can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write you about the idea that has changed my life. I had worn LIG t-shirts since I was a kid, and I must have read the words “Do What You Love. Love What You Do” a thousand times, but the real meaning went right over my head. I only associated it with simple pleasures, like having a cookout or going to the beach. 

I was a business major in college, but I struggled in courses like Stats and Finance. I was never very good at math. Accounting was the worst for me. In between my junior and senior years, I looked into switching out of the business school altogether, because I just didn’t know if I was cut out for it. It was too late to switch majors though, and that’s when I took the internship with you guys. Thank God for that because it made me realize there is a great place for me in business. I may not be a numbers person, but I am a people person.

I absolutely loved working in the Human Resources department at Life is Good.  Human Resources is all about helping people, and that’s what I’m all about. I had never really looked forward to working before. I don’t know if most people do. But it surprised me when I was in Boston that I really looked forward to working every day. What a great feeling.  While I was up there, a friend asked me how I liked what I was doing and the words just popped out of my mouth, “I love what I do.”  “That’s so cool”, my friend said, “Having a job where you love what you and you actually get paid to do it would be the ultimate.  That’s what I want.”  For me, that’s now the real meaning of Do What You Love. Love What You Do.  OMG!  I can’t believe I never realized that. Am I stupid?  Don’t answer that. I’m on a roll.

I am now working in recruiting at a great tech company down in Raleigh, North Carolina and every day I am helping other people to Do What They Love and Love What They Do.  Yeehaaaaa!

A young dad and creative director from Southern California wrote this about his breakthrough:

Hello Life is Good,

I’ve writing you today because I’ve had an epiphany in my life, and it relates to your slogan, Do What You Love. Love What You Do. 

For years, I would try to stay motivated by saying these words to myself, “Be the best husband you can be. Be the best dad you can be. And wherever you work, be an irreplaceable asset to the company.”

They were noble thoughts, but it really wasn’t working.  I wasn’t a bad husband or dad or leader at the office, but I was frustrated because I knew I could do better. I was trying like mad, but I was just not myself. I was uninspired, and at times it was obvious. I was even embarrassed by it. I was always happy and inspired as a single guy. I love my wife and kids – I never had second guesses about that. But I just wasn’t happy a lot of the time and I couldn’t figure it out. My company is awesome too, and there are huge opportunities for me to grow here. But I wasn’t happy at work either. 

You’re going to think I’m crazy when I tell you this, but I figured it out and here’s what I say to myself now: “Be selfish.”  That’s right!  Be Selfish. Why? Because giving myself completely to my family and my work wasn’t working for me. My quantity of giving was high but my quality of giving was low. I didn’t have joy and enthusiasm myself. I didn’t love myself. So how could I give love and joy and enthusiasm to my family and to my work if I didn’t have those things myself? The answer is I couldn’t. This was like the sky opening up for me.

So I sat down and thought about the things I used to love to do that I gave up in pursuit of being a great dad and husband and employee. They were all things I just didn’t think I had the time to do anymore, and things I thought I could easily do without. On the top of my list was playing soccer. I had played soccer competitively since I was nine years old. Soccer is part of who I am. I love the game, and I gave it up cold turkey at 27. I am also a movie nut. I love comedies and science fiction and I love to go to the theatre, but I hadn’t been to a movie since I got married. What was I thinking? And finally, but most importantly, I lost all contact with a few close buds from college who actually don’t live far from us at all. That wasn’t a conscious decision, but I also wasn’t consciously trying to do the things I love, like hanging out with them, so I just let it slip. 

Anyway, I talked with my wife about all this, and she is just plain smart. She knew I was barking up the right tree. She knew this was going to be good for all of us, so she smiled at me and said, “Go for it.”  I joined a local men’s soccer league last fall and I’m going to play on another team in the spring. I’m not in the best shape, and my skills have waned a bit.  But running on that field and having teammates is incredible. I can hardly express what playing again has done for me. Just putting on a uniform is magic. When I come home from playing, I am super dad!  And every other Wednesday I go to the movies, sometimes with my wife, and sometimes with one of the guys I lost touch with. The stress goes away and I let the movie take me to some place cool. I love my movie night. I feel like I’m born again because I’m doing the things I love.

Never change that slogan for your company. Do What You Love and Love What You Do. I live by those words. My goals were to be a great father and husband and employee. Life is never perfect, but today I can honestly say I’m getting it all done. Who would have thought the best way for me to accomplish my goals was by chasing a ball around a field and watching movies?”

Thanks for the wake up call,

Ben

 

This article is excerpted and adapted from the book Life is Good by Bert and John Jacobs, published by National Geographic on September 1, 2015. Copyright © 2015 The Life is Good Company.

Read more in Life is Good: The Book