A friend of mine recently read me a passage from a book talking about people’s different views on what work should be like. One view was that work should always be perfectly fun, that you should be in flow and that as soon as it becomes difficult, you’re not doing your best work. The opposing view argued it is from difficulty that good, high quality work arises.
I found it interesting because somehow I agreed with both of these views.
I think the reconciliation comes from the fact that the word difficulty has a very negative connotation. I don’t think it’s natural to associate difficulty and enjoyment. Difficulty usually brings to mind thoughts of stress, late nights, cramming and the like. But I think it’s possible to meld the above two views into one in which you can be in a very happy state of flow solving very difficult problems. The trick would be to know when difficulty turns to stress and when you should take a break :p