Discovery 1:9 – The First Step: Understanding & Acceptance
We can be happy, even at work. But first we have to come to a truthful, non-judgmental understanding of why we’re unhappy. It’s easy enough to recognize our unhappiness, our discontent and our dissatisfaction with work. The hard part is truly understanding it and then beginning the process of learning how to change the way we relate to our unhappiness. For only then can we transform it into its opposite: happiness.
So, let’s take a moment to review what you did in this first step toward understanding.
- You identified the elements of your work that cause you dissatisfaction and how these feelings seep into other areas of your life. You also identified those aspects of work that make you happy.
- You made a balanced assessment of your current job—the pros, the cons, your contribution to it and where you might be lacking.
- You appraised your personality, your thoughts and feelings, and looked at how you move through your world with your unique take on things.
- You reviewed your self- and career-expectations and noticed the disappointment attached to them.
- You began to observe yourself in your daily work routine and how you might be contributing to your own dissatisfaction by taking the focus off yourself and placing it elsewhere, either in blame, envy or anger.
- You looked at your work history and uncovered the pattern you wove.
- Then you began to see things as they are by stepping outside those aspects of your work that cause you dissatisfaction and observing without judgment these elements and your reaction to them.
In order to fully and objectively understand our work life it is important to have a clear picture of not only what pleases us but also what pains us, and then to see clearly where we fit into the scheme. As we learned, one crucial aspect to this step of understanding is the notion of impermanence. The sooner we grasp this truth, the sooner we will reach a permanent state of joy. Don’t let this seeming paradox bog you down. For if we accept that change is inevitable, that from one moment to the next nothing is exactly the same and that no matter how hard we try we cannot fix anything or anyone, including ourselves, into a static frame, then we are on our way to seeing clearly and exactly how things are. A realization that will lead you to the happiness you seek.
You may be having a lot of feelings about all of this right now. This is natural, especially if you fearlessly and honestly completed these first-step exercises. But do not be discouraged. All of this work is necessary if you want to love what you do and do what you love. This will lead to a clear understanding without judgment of you and your relationship to work. The sooner you get to this understanding, the sooner your work life will be transformed. And in place of fantasy and illusion, or delusion and denial, your work life will be grounded in a reality that will bring you true happiness.
In dealing with the perplexities of body and mind
can you create harmony between them?
As you concentrate on your breath
can you become as supple as a child?
In polishing the mirror of your mind
can you keep it free of impurities?
Without being sly and cunning
can you love people and lead them?
When it comes to matters of life and death
can you let events take their course?
Even as your understanding grows
can you return to not-knowing?
It gives birth and nurtures,
It has but doesn’t possess.
It gives generously without expectation,
It takes care but doesn’t control.
Such is called the supreme virtue.
Tao te Ching (#10)
To be continued…