Thursday, 25 February 2010

Do You Love What You Do?

by Melinda Briana Epler, One Green Generation

This weekend I spent a lovely evening with my grandfather and his wife celebrating their 99th birthdays. I shared a bit about it at One Green Generation, and many people wanted to know his secret.

When my grandfather was in the hospital 2 years ago - for the first time ever! - he was asked that very question:

A nurse came in to see my grandfather just before his surgery, looked at his chart (born in 1911), and marveled at his age. She asked him how he lived so long. He thought for a moment and said, “Well, I suppose it’s because I always loved what I was doing.”

My grandfather came of age during the Depression, so he learned early on to be able to adapt to new jobs quickly, juggle multiple jobs, and when you can, move on to something new if you were better suited for it. Every time he had learned all he could, and taken that business as far as he could go, he moved on. And he was able to get through the time “in between” jobs because he was smart with his money: investing wisely (and conservatively), minimizing debt, and not buying things he didn’t need.

What did my grandfather do? Well, I’m sure I’ll miss about half of his jobs, but from what I remember, he: worked in a grocery store, owned one of the first self-serve hardware stores, was a fireman and helped create the first aid car in Seattle, was a private detective for small businesses, was a pilot in the Marines in World War II, was a business consultant, and was hired to gracefully take several businesses out of business. After all that, he started up a Savings and Loan with two others who didn’t know anything about banking either, and brought it to such success that he was flying his own Cessna to other areas where they were set up franchises. He retired at the bank when he was 65 (about ten years before the S & L scandals in the 80s). After retiring he consulted with several businesses, and spent about five years bringing profit to three of my cousins’ businesses. And to this day he still volunteers.

He was also a father of 2, a grandfather of 6, a great-grandfather of 2, and a great-great grandfather of 1!

With everything he does, he infuses it with passion.

Do You Love What You Do?


Mia @ agoodhuman said...

Incredible. What an inspiration! I can only hope I live such a long, full life filled with interesting challenges and people I love.

Rose said...

Great post and a truly fabulous photo. Greetings to your grandparents from Australia.

Chookie said...

Happy birthday to the grandies!

But be careful how far you push the loving what you do idea. I have a friend who has always loved what he does, and he's just been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He isn't 40 yet. I don't know what kind it is; some are much more survivable than others.

rachel said...

so inspiring!

especially this:

With everything he does, he infuses it with passion.

happy birthday to them! xxx

オテモヤン said...


Rachael said...

Wow! They don't even look 99! I will have to apply his secret to my life now. Amazing :)

Jaime Santos-Prowse said...

I think it also has to do with activity level. I've noticed that elderly people who are active regularly - working, community games and events, singing in a choir, volunteering, etc. - not only seem to live longer, but seem to maintain their capabilities longer. My grandparents are really spry for 80 year olds (or even compared to some of my friends, ha!) and I know part of it is because they've always wanted to DO things.

Michelle said...

99, Fantastic! I always say that life is to short to be misserable. I love the farming life but haven't started yet. I still do love most of what I do. I work at a small greenhouse for a few months each year. I walk around orchards for four months in the spring and summer. I garden and I dream of my someday life as a farmer.

Someday I will love what I do more than I can imagine!

Nancy-Jane said... beat me to it. They don't look 99 at all! I think it all boils down to good genes.

Michelle said...

They don't look a day over 75!

Laura said...

I agree that activity level has a lot to do with it. My own grandmother is 92, still lives on her own, does her own yardwork, and is very healthy. She has always been very physically active, had a busy social life, and participated in hobbies like sewing and painting. Of course genes don't hurt either; and I'm sure doing something you love helps too. But I don't think there's one secret to a long life.

Damn The Broccoli said...

Whenever the topic of what do I want to do comes up with my daughter I always tell her to pick something that will make you happy.

In response to Chookie, I don't think you can push this idea enough, your friend will have few regrets in a life they have enjoyed, and that would be my point.

It may not lead to a long life but it will generally lead to a fulfilled life that the chasing of wealth will never give you.

I am in a position to judge as I have far more wealth than I ever had, not enough to be free but enough not to have a worry really, and I am far from happy with the direction my life has gone in as a result. So I am changing that direction and if the wealth goes so be it.

Be happy, it is the one thing that cannot be taken away from you because it comes from inside! We focus readily on the negative not the positive in any situation

Farmer's Daughter said...

I love what I do! Teaching environmental science to my high school kids is really my passion. Actually, today at the doctor's office when she told me I should stop working tomorrow due to the swelling in my legs (I'm 38 weeks pregnant) I burst into tears! I said I'd miss my kids and I thought I had one more week with them!

Though I'm sure I'll love being a mom even more than I love being a teacher :)