There are probably not too many people who just love going to work every day!
Is your job a labour of love or a labour of… labour?
The ‘world of work’ is based on a simple exchange of our energy and expertise in return for some money! However, just the idea of ‘labour’ triggers obvious connotations of laboring and laborious. In other words, a ‘joyless pursuit’! That’s not helped by the obvious need to work in order to survive physically. Work and survival then become synonymous both in our mind and in our conversations. So it’s not surprising there is so little joy for so many people during their ‘employment activity’ known as ‘the job’. One of our favorite clichés best sums up the daily grind when some refer to work as a ‘necessary evil’.
It all adds up to a mindset that doesn’t bode well for someone whose life is defined and confined by the 9 to 5 routine, and often way beyond the 5! It’s a mindset that guarantees some level of work related unhappiness will likely be the hallmark of our entire working life. But it will be a level of unhappiness that will be tolerated and accommodated. The good times, such as vacations and pay rises, promotions and perhaps true friendships forged, will compensate sufficiently to ensure the anti-depressants are kept off the menu!
For those who are NOT doing what they love in exchange for the money they need, the unhappiness will occur in many forms within the context of the job and the workplace. It includes the ‘stress emotions’ known as anxiety, insecurity, frustration and resentment. It will likely extend into some ‘difficult relationships’, and if conflict doesn’t develop then some simmering resentments will thrive. All together they throw us off center and out of balance. They drain our energy, affecting both our performance at work, our relationships at home and sometimes our deepest friendships.
So how can we thrive and not just survive the work part of life and living? What can we do to make both the tasks and the process of ‘employment’, the relationships and the rewards of work, more… rewarding! Where reward doesn’t mean more money but greater satisfaction and meaning.
Being Well and Staying Well at WORK
Here are seven essential insights into finding and sustaining your joy, nurturing your enthusiasm and being well in your workplace. See if any are useful for you. They also apply to all the ‘other’ areas of your life.
1. You are 100% responsible for your thoughts and feelings anywhere, anytime – accept it!
While the body may develop many kinds of ‘pain’, which we call disease, the ‘self’ suffers from many forms of dis – ease, which we call ‘suffering’! Some pain is inevitable, but suffering is always optional. Pain is physical and suffering is mental/emotional. Pain will inevitably come to you through your body, but suffering is created by you because you are 100% responsible for your thoughts and feelings, regardless of what is happening around you. That means all your stress is self-created, as stress begins with the thoughts you create in your own mind.
This means that it’s not the other person, the event or the circumstances i.e. your job, that make you unhappy. It’s you! Some people don’t like this idea while others love it! Why? Because they realize they don’t have to feel like a helpless victim any more. They don’t have to wait for others or for circumstances to change. They can do something about their stress, their suffering, by changing what is going on within their own consciousness. But first you need to fully realize ‘it’s me, not them’. It’s easy theory but not so easy to translate into action/behavior. Theory first, then practice, then mastery.
2. You are not responsible for others happiness – realize it!
Give the same chocolate cake to two people and one says, “Wonderful, thank you”, while the other says, “Yuk, I hate chocolate”. Same cake, two people, different response! It’s not easy to see but just as we are each responsible for our own happiness so too it’s not your job to ‘make’ others happy! Sounds obvious in theory but take a moment to consider how often and how much you try to ‘please’ others!
Take a moment to contemplate the simple idea that everyone makes themselves happy, or not, as the case may be, and see if you can ‘see’ this truth! Even when you realize this for your self it’s highly likely everyone else around you will not have realized it … yet! So you have to step lightly and carefully until they do.
Serve the customer well but don’t become dependent on them being happy with you just because you think you did a good job. Keep being kind to your family but don’t ‘expect’ your kindness to always be repaid with a happy gratitude. Relationships are much more complicated than that. When we learn to believe that others make us happy, and vice versa, relationships become ‘messy’. That’s just a fact of life until we realize we are each responsible for our own happiness.
3. You don’t derive your sense of your value from others – end your neediness!
When we are children our parents tend to teach us (mistakenly or otherwise) that we need to be approved and affirmed by them in order to know and feel our own value. As we grow up the authority figure of the parent is replaced either by a manager in a formal context or perhaps a strong senior personality in an informal context. We then look to them to give us our sense of value. Then, when we perceive we are not getting that approval/affirmation, we start to make our self feel inadequate and unvalued. This easily leads to resentment and perhaps anger towards those figures simply because we have learned to believe that it’s their job to give us our sense of value.
This can make the workplace an utterly miserable place for some and not a very happy context for others. Most of us tend to be somewhere along that spectrum. This means we are dependent on others for our self-esteem. Can you learn to find your value from inside out and not outside in? Yes you can! But first you need to decide that you are going to ‘unlearn’ and undo your neediness!
4. Your most difficult relationships are your teachers – use them!
Sometimes you encounter someone who, right from the start, presses your buttons, or rubs you up the wrong way, or just seems to get on your nerves! They are your teacher! But don’t tell them that! Who put the button/s on? Who is creating the feelings of resistance towards them? It’s you, of course. So the next question is why? Look within and you will eventually find what it is within you that you are using to upset your self! Then stick this line at the top of every page in your diary, “The other person is never the problem”! Read it a hundred times a day until it finally sinks in.
But you’re right, it’s not easy to see after a lifetime of learning to believe it’s always ‘them’ that is making me feel this way! As soon as you see ‘the other’ as your teacher and ask your self what is the lesson I need to learn in this relationship, it changes your vision of them and that changes your attitude towards them. And that influences their attitude towards you. This is why life is the real school and the classroom is your consciousness, which is YOU! Other people are your lessons. You have exams every day. Until you pass! Then you can go out and play!
5. You chose to do the job you do because you said YES – don’t forget it!
What’s your first thought when you awaken most mornings? Does it go along the lines of, “Oh God not another day, I have to go to work”? Or do you awaken with a “Yes, another day, fantastic, work, relationships, fun?” I thought not. Well a few do! Here is probably the most common mistake people make around the job they do – they forget that they CHOSE it. They forget that they said YES to accepting the job in the first place. So if you want to invoke the right energy the moment you awaken, if you want to bring the energy of enthusiasm to work, reaffirm your choice to do what you do… every day! Or else go do something different!
Remember, any time you say you ‘have to’ in relationship to anything or anyone, it means you are living your life reluctantly! It’s as if you have been given the gift of life and you looked down your nose as if to say, “Well I suppose I ‘have to’ live it”!
6. Do not take anything personally – stop it!
You’re right; this one is also not easy! But it’s possible. Sometimes we meet people with what we call a ‘thick skin’. It’s as if you can say anything to them and they don’t take it personally, they don’t react emotionally, either internally or externally. For most of us it’s more often the opposite. We become so sensitive to others comments. Even just an odd expression on someone’s face and we will contrive, in our imagination, to believe it’s because of something we did or said, as we take it personally. Then we need ‘recovery time’ to settle our internal turmoil.
So it’s time to stop misinterpreting and/or worrying about what others think about you. In reality you can never know what is truly going on in the mind of the other – so what’s the point in speculating. It’s a waste of time and energy.
Besides who cares what other people think about you? Why do you care so much? It’s because you seek your sense of identity and esteem from others. Perhaps it’s time to rediscover who you are and the wealth you already have within. No one can ever take it away. We just lose awareness of it. If you need help with that send me an email. Or get together with two friends and co-create a cappuccino conversation with the aim of exploring and understanding more deeply why we become so ‘sensitive’ and how to thicken your skin…so to speak!
You already know why and how! Realize it and be free.
7. Your joy in life comes through your creativity – cultivate it!
It’s true, we do need to recognize and accept that most jobs are not created for someone to be ‘creative’. Most jobs are created to be productive and achieve goals within some timescale. This is why so many people think and feel they are NOT experiencing much ‘job satisfaction’. The most ‘deeply satisfying’ thing for any human being is to be creative. It’s what we are here to do – not ‘get’ a life, but ‘create’ our life. So the trick to creating job satisfaction is to see the job as a creative opportunity and process. Then to find ways to make the way you work as creative as possible. For example, if you have a time management system that you have been given throw it out and ‘create’ your own system that precisely suits you and the job. Then you are more likely to actually use it.
Take a blank sheet of paper and map the work you do. Then take each aspect and ‘create’ other possible ways to do it or improve it. Don’t wait for permission, just do it and quietly get on with ‘creating’ the way YOU do the job. Then you will notice a different satisfaction coming from inside out, where before you expected the job to satisfy you from outside in. Life doesn’t work like that. It’s just that most of us have been taught to believe it does. The job is not designed to ‘give you’ satisfaction. It’s how you do the job, any job, which gives you satisfaction. Has the penny dropped?
That’s why empowering your self, being the master of your own thoughts and feelings, consciously refreshing your choice to do what you do and rediscovering your creative spark, is NOT about learning, it’s about UNLEARNING most of what you have been taught to believe!
But don’t believe me. Time to wake up, smell that coffee and see and know for your self.
Question: Which of the above did you resonate with the most?
Reflection: What could you change/improve about the way you work that would generate more enthusiasm from inside out?
Action: What can you do to make your work more creative?
by Mike George