Before we leave the topic of working hard for our families, I have to give you the trick to keeping things going.

It’s all good to talk about work, but actually doing some every day…can be painful.

I know you’re all hoping my trick makes work easy.  In a way, it does.  But only because it takes out the drama/trauma of decision making.

…the effort of decision is the most exhausting effort of life.

-Charlotte Mason

Such an absolute statement!  But it’s so true in my life.  Decision is half the battle in most of the things I do.

Later she says it’s not all of those things we have to do that exhaust us so much, it’s the “making up of one’s mind as to which thing to do first” (or if we are going to do it at all…).

Each of us has in [our] possession an exceedingly good servant or a very bad master, known as Habit.

-Charlotte Mason, Ourselves

Habits.  They’re your ace in the hole.  When put to good use (as your servant), they can save the day!

It is pleasant to know that even in mature life, it is possible by a little persistent effort to acquire a desirable habit. [A habit] falls in with our natural love of an easy life.

-Charlotte Mason, Home Education

She says that we are willing to work hard at first when we are promised that a habit will get easier as time goes on.

The beauty of a habit is that after a certain amount of time, we just naturally “do the next thing” if we are giving our attention to what needs to be done.

But where is the joy? Well, I think the joy is in the triumph of making yourself do the thing you know you ought to do.  And doing it well.

This power of making oneself work is a fine thing. Every effort makes the next easier.

-Charlotte Mason, Ourselves

Charlotte reminds us to form a habit of distinguishing what must be done at once from what may be done.  Then, once we form the habit of singling out the important things and doing them first, we have saved ourselves and others a lot of annoyance and have gained what she calls “integrity in our work”.

Integrity (in our work) makes for [joyfulness], because the person who is honest about his work has time to play, and is not secretly vexed by the remembrance of things left undone or ill done.

-Charlotte Mason, Ourselves

Sometimes we need a little inspiration to think how this might look in “real” life.  So of course it makes sense that I would quote some fiction…

Polly was tough as a pit pony, and a wonderful worker. But she did not find drudgery monotonous, and she was possibly the happiest person in the city…

…her face was flushed and beaming and instantly the atmosphere of the cold stuffy room was subtly changed because she was happy.  Polly’s chief joy in life was feeding people.

-Elizabeth Goudge, The Dean’s Watch

And there you have it… “she didn’t find drudgery monotonous, and she was possibly the happiest person in the city”.

Jean-Francois-Millet bread