Updated on 02.10.12

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #59

Trent Hamm

Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well.

1. J. M. Barrie on work
I don’t really think of work as being time spent earning money.

Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else. – J. M. Barrie

I sometimes earn money doing stuff I like to do. I sometimes earn nothing doing stuff I don’t enjoy doing. The real question is whether you enjoy what you’re doing, I think.

2. Spring
We’ve reached the point in winter where I am strongly yearning for spring, so expect a lot of spring pictures this week and for the next month.


The field behind our house fills with wildflowers in the spring. I love watching it change from the white of snow to the brown of dead grass after the melt to the green of fresh grass in the warm weather to the multicolored array of flowers.

Thanks to Dean Ward for the picture.

3. Emerson on what to do when in doubt
If you’re unsure what to do, do what seems right in your heart. That way, the reason why you chose that path will have a natural explanation.

Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

On the other hand, if you do something just because others are doing it, the explanation of why you’re doing that is often really hard to find.

4. Jennifer Aaker on the pursuit of happiness
Chasing happiness often doesn’t lead to happiness.

I observed this in my own life, particularly during the period in my life when I was always chasing the new shiny thing. Getting that new shiny thing offered a tiny burst of joy, but over a lasting period, I felt sad and empty.

5. Tony Kakko on money and problems
The more I learn about personal finance, the more I realize that it has little to do with money.

Throw money at a problem and it will remain. – Tony Kakko

It has to do with behavior and the choices we make more than anything else. Give a financially senseless person a million dollars and they won’t have it before long. Give someone with some financial sense a million dollars and they’ll live forever on it. It’s about the person and their choices, not the million bucks.

6. Dwarf tulips fighting up through the snow
I love to see things that are overcoming a struggle and surviving.

Dwarf tulips in snow

Flowers pushing up through snow are a wonderful example of something beautiful persevering over a hardship.

Thanks to David Short for the picture.

7. Listia
Imagine eBay without having to actually pay money. You list items. People bid credits. The highest bidder for those credits gets the item, so you either give them the item or send it to them. Then, you use those credits to bid on other stuff.

It’s actually quite fun. I’ve picked up a few interesting things on the site and tossed out a few odds and ends, too. It’s one of those really good ideas that, when you see it working, leaves you amazed someone didn’t do it sooner.

8. Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come
I listen to this song whenever I’m down. The music captures my mood, but the words, they stick around. They eventually help lift me up.

Isn’t that what music is supposed to do? It captures a mood. This song captures a mix of despair and hopefulness in a powerful way.

9. Carl Sandburg on money
Money is different things to different people.

Money is power, freedom, a cushion, the root of all evil, the sum of blessings. – Carl Sandburg

It’s different things to the same person at different times, even.

10. Spring showers
I even love spring showers, because I love the smell of fresh growth outside following the rain. It smells alive.

April Shower

I really miss that aroma.

Thanks to Don O’Brien for the picture.

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  1. kevin says:

    It’s okay to work just for money. You don’t have to love or be “passionate” about your job. Do you think a garbage truck driver loves his work? Do you think a fireman loves to run into a burning building? Do you think the person who cleans your motel room is passionate about his job? Of course not. But all of the above are honorable jobs that need to be done.

    Yes, it’s nice if you can earn a living doing something you enjoy. But society could not function if no one was willing to do work they did not enjoy. It’s okay – in fact it’s necessary – for people to work “just for money”.

  2. Kai says:

    ^I think too many ‘do what you love!’ gurus forget that they can do their jobs only because others do the basic work of keeping society running.

    There’s nothing wrong with seeking things that will make you happy if you do understand what those are.
    The fact that you state that ‘chasing happiness’ doesn’t work, then immediately equate ‘chasing happiness’ with ‘chasing after shiny new things’ shows where your problem is.

  3. David says:

    One piece of inspiration:

    The sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
    But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
    And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
    Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

    It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
    It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
    It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
    Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

    They say to mountains “Be ye removed.” They say to the lesser floods “Be dry.”
    Under their rods are the rocks reproved – they are not afraid of that which is high.
    Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit – then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
    That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

    They finger Death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
    He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
    Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
    And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

    To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
    They are concerned with matters hidden – under the earth line their altars are;
    The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
    And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.

    They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
    They do not teach that His Pity allows them to drop their job when they damn well choose.
    As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
    Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s days may be long in the land.

    Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat –
    Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha spilled for that.
    Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
    But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

    And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessed – they know the Angels are on their side.
    They know in them is the Grace confessed, and for
    them are the Mercies multiplied.
    They sit at the Feet – they hear the Word – they see how truly the Promise runs.
    They have cast their burden upon the Lord – and the Lord, He lays it on Martha’s Sons!

    Rudyard Kipling

  4. valleycat1 says:

    #1 & #2 I agree fully. And this applies even within a couple – in many households were one person is able to do what they love as work, it’s because the other person is working a conventional job. And no matter how much you enjoy your work overall, there’s always some part of it that’s not so enjoyable.

    I, for one, work at a job that pays all our bills and provides excellent health insurance, in an area where those types of jobs are difficult to come by, but I don’t get my life satisfaction from going to that job every day.

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