Is it just me, or does summer make time simultaneously speed up and slow down at the same time? The days are longer, yet, there always seems to be so much to do. In Maine, that means more working hours (the tourists are here) with the chance to slow down after Christmas. Add to this, the fact that I’m moving and also helping my in-laws move into a new place, all within the same week. The challenge, as always, is taking care of myself even when I think I’m too busy to do so.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my work lately. The hours, my energy level, and how to balance my commitment to writing with what I do on a daily basis to earn money. The more I look around, it seems that the more spiritual of us – myself included- are giving away most of our time and values in exchange for security. We are doing this, even though we know intuitively that God/Universe is the true source of our abundance.
We’ve fallen into the trap of thinking that our jobs are the only means to receive money, that there’s never enough time, and that we have to do whatever we can to survive – health or comfort be damned. In truth, in order to take care of ourselves, we need to slow down, work less, and cherish our gifts. At the very least, there should be a work/life balance.
Still, I can’t help but find myself overworking and forgetting about my writing (yes, dear readers, that includes this blog and you have my sincerest apologies). I can’t help but wonder what life would be like if I were to give up resenting what it is I do out of necessity? In a world full of either/or propositions, perhaps I can allow my daily work to enrich and enliven my writing, instead of using it as an excuse to forgo my passion.
I once read a book by The Dalai Lama called, “The Art of Happiness at Work.” I’ll never forget his illustration of a man who worked in a factory doing the same thing day in and day out. This was a labor job – probably with long hours and low pay. Yet, this man never failed to keep a smile on his face, to show a new worker the ropes, and to generally appreciate the contribution he was making to his company. He saw himself not as a cog in a wheel, but as an integral part of a team.
So many times we complain about our jobs. I know, because I am guilty of this. We find ourselves stuck working extra hours while one of our co-workers seems favored by the boss and gets weekends off. We feel stressed and under-appreciated. Our clients don’t pay us on time. The commute is too long. Over time, the list of complaints gets longer until we eventually sink into apathy or move on to another job, only to repeat the same patterns. Little wonder, then, why most of us are unhappy in our occupations.
While it’s true that we should strive for continual self-improvement and leave jobs where we feel un-appreciated or that make us stop caring for our needs, there’s something to be said for just going about our work with a smile. I find that amidst all of these changes in my life, my primary truth has been that on a personal level, I can choose to give up suffering. That doesn’t mean that life may not be challenging, but I can choose to give up on the “poor me,” “this sucks” mentality and simply embrace the good that is within each experience.
Recently, I found myself in the position of needing to take on a second job. This decision was months in the making and was made consciously because my husband and I have the financial goal of releasing our debt and buying a house (and no, the two aren’t mutually exclusive). Even though it feels good that I am finally able to contribute more to our savings, a small part of me still wanted to say, “This isn’t what I want! I should be writing for a living, not doing x, y, and z.”
Then, the conscious, self-aware God within me spoke up. I remembered the guy in the Dalai Lama’s book. I remembered my financial goals and my commitment to my marriage. I remembered that I will be able to be of service no matter what job I hold and that nothing – not even work – is permanent.
I’d love to say that I’m 100% okay with working six days per week or that I still don’t want to seek a content writing gig, but that wouldn’t be the truth. The point is, I’ve learned to be comfortable with where I am. Besides, as we all sometimes forget, there’s more to life than work. There’s more to our identities than our bank account or position. This is especially easy to forget in the U.S., where the primary question upon meeting someone is, “What do you do for work?” That still doesn’t negate the fact that we are unlimited spiritual beings, choosing to have a human experience. That’s the truth, no matter what company we work for or how much we earn.
When I think this way, I can stop fighting my circumstances and feel the gratitude of what it will be like to be free of debt and living in our first home. Instead of feeling angry and worried, I get to relax into the moment and just enjoy whatever comes my way. After all, life is easier (and more abundant) when we can accept things as they are – nothing more and nothing less.