Great advice can come from a song

Image courtesy of Flickr, Richard

I was driving along listening to Curtin FM 100.1 when the Jimmy Buffett song, “It’s my job” came on.  I love it!  It’s uplifting and, in a melodic way, it contains some great advice.

Here’s how it starts:

In the middle of late last night I was sittin’ on a curb
I didn’t know what about, but I was feeling quite disturbed
A street sweeper came whistlin’ by
He was bouncin’ every step
It seemed strange how good he felt
So I asked him while he swept

He said “It’s my job to be cleaning up this mess
And that’s enough reason to go for me
It’s my job to be better than the rest
And that makes the day for me”

So the standard the street sweeper set for himself also set his level of satisfaction 

The psychological research around pride is fascinating.  Pride, like shame, is an emotional reaction to the self.  People can feel pride when living up to a standard they have set themselves ~ just like the street sweeper in the song.  This is healthy pride, as opposed to the arrogant or conceited pride of seeing yourself as better than others.

Got an uncle who owns a bank.  He’s a self made millionaire
He never had anyone to love, never had no one to care
He always to seemed kind of sad to me
So I asked him why that was
And he told me, “It’s because in my contract there’s a clause

That says, ‘It’s my job to worried half to death
And that’s the thing people respect in me
It’s a job but without it I’d be less
Than what I expect from me’.”

Although I don’t think that just because you’re a self-made millionaire you will automatically end up being alone and unloved, it’s the line about “I’d be less than what I expect from me” that I like.  I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling satisfied at the end of the day when I have lived up to my own personal standards.

I’ve been lazy most all of my life
Writing songs and sleeping late
Any manual labor I’ve done purely by mistake
If street sweepers can smile then
I’ve got no right to feel upset
But sometimes I still forget.

Resilience & Gratitude

Part of the resilience of being human is that we get accustomed to conditions very quickly.  The downside is that we can forget to be grateful.  A privilege very rapidly turns “in our minds” to a right.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.  Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”  [i]  A friend of mine has a small card on her car’s dashboard which reads, “I am grateful for…” and she uses it to remind herself of all the things she is grateful for.  I put one in my car – and it works.  It’s hard to be cranky about the traffic when you are reminding yourself of being grateful for; your health, that you have a car, that you can afford to put petrol in it, that you have somewhere to go, people to meet… and, of course, Curtin FM 100.1 on the radio.

It’s my job to be different than the rest
and that’s enough reason to go for me
It’s my job to be better than the best
and that’s a tough break for me
It’s my job to be cleaning up this mess
and that’s enough reason to go for me
It’s my job to be better than the best
and that makes the day for me.



[i] Harvard Health Publications; Harvard Medical School, “In praise of gratitude”, November, 2011,

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