…continued from 7 Steps to Loving What You Do – Discovery 1:2
Few of us deny that the natural events in life—birth, death, illness, and aging—cause us pain, grief and sorrow. We accept that these occurrences are natural, yet each time we encounter one we allow ourselves to suffer and rail against the injustice, the unfairness of the world. Time and time again we are confronted with our lack of control and the inevitability of change. When the winds of change subside, when things return to normal, we breathe a little easier and fool ourselves into thinking that this normal state is fixed, rigid, unchanging and that the catastrophic events are abnormal and infrequent. We hold on that much tighter to what we think of as our predictable everyday life, believing that our suffering is over for the time being, at least until the next catastrophe hits.
The very first thing we must do to find happiness (and isn’t that what we all want?) in our work life (or in any area of our life), is to come to terms not only with the fact that things change, but with the fact that these changes—even the seemingly minor ones—cause us to be dissatisfied with ourselves, with our lives, and with those around us. Here’s an example of how it happens:
We arrive at work one morning expecting to be met with our usual tasks, with the usual faces. Our boss greets us first thing and informs us that for the next three weeks everyone in the department will be working together in teams on a special project. This will mean working overtime and on weekends. We are teamed up with the one person in the department that we don’t get along with. Rather than greeting this news with excitement (it’s a challenging opportunity to use our skills, which could lead to recognition and promotion) we mope and complain. Our weekend plans are destroyed. We become angry and sullen both at work and at home. We make the next three weeks miserable for ourselves and everyone around us. We see no joy anywhere.
We are all looking for certainty. And when we construct in our minds a vision of how things should be, of how they should play out, of the perfect scenario, we can’t help but be disappointed, since the reality is always different. But we can help ourselves and lessen our disappointment by refraining from the mind constructs that will only lead us down the road to pain.
Here are some truths to consider:
Change is inevitable.
Nothing is permanent.
Intellectually we can all grasp these truths. We need only take a quick review of our lives, or for that matter the past week, or day, to prove them. So if our mind agrees with these truths and if we agree that it is our mind that regularly tries to convince us that they’re not true, where does that leave us? Logically this conclusion would lead us to look elsewhere.
We must go to our spiritual self to fully grasp, understand and live with the truth that impermanence is the way of life and acceptance of that truth the only key that will release us from our suffering and dissatisfaction.
So then, where is our spirit located? Is it in our heart? Is it in our gut? Does it have a specific locale within our body? For the time being let’s not worry about where our spiritual center is, let’s just simply decide that it’s not in our brain. Let’s also agree that while our spiritual center is not in our mind, we might at some point need to engage our mind, once we begin to activate our spirit, to fully understand what is going on. But for now our practice will be pulling away from our mind’s activity, and breathing our way toward our spirit. Concentrate on the following exercise each time you feel your mind struggling for an answer:
Breathe deeply. Concentrate only on your deep breath. Draw your breath as deeply into your tummy as possible. Imagine your center of gravity just below your belly button. Concentrate all of your energy there so that the activity of your mind falls away and you are centered in the middle of your body rather than in your head. Breathe, breathe and breathe some more. Breathe until your thoughts have quieted down. Breathe until your anxiety has abated. Take the time to do this every day and you will soon know, without a doubt, where your spiritual center is. Your breath will guide you. Trust it. Don’t listen to the chatter in your brain, it is only chatter. Listen to what your breath wants to say. You will know it when you hear it. Understanding will be yours in time.
- Write down everything that you are presently dissatisfied with in your work life. And about how your work (and your dissatisfaction with it) spills over into the rest of your life to cause yet more dissatisfaction.
Some areas to think about:
The office environment
Your compensation package
The work itself
- Write about what you would change to make it better, to make you happier.
- Write about those things in your work/job that make you happy, that you wouldn’t want changed.
Don’t do anything with this information yet. Just sit with it and trust that you’ll know what to do when the time comes. Or live with doubt. That’s okay too.
To be continued…