Most of us go to work every week. There are a few lucky and many unlucky ones who either don’t need to work or unfortunately have no job. But everyone has worked in their lives one way or the other.
Work: survival and ambition
But WHY work in the first place? It is a difficult question. And there are many aspects to it. I will refer to two in this article. An important and most fundamental aspect is that of survival. You work so you can survive. The wording is important here.
I do not say “work in order to live”. I say “work in order to survive”. Survival is a prerequisite for living. But life means a lot more than survival. And this brings me to the second aspect I want to address about work.
This is not so true in impoverished and developing areas, but is the normal case for developed and western societies. People here see work as a way to get status, power and wealth. This is fine and is actually natural to human nature.
It is only that problems arise when you regard work as only something to enhance your life. They say: “work to live, not live to work”. I agree with neither. Obviously the latter does not make any sense. Work is life, but life is a lot more than work, so it is natural to prioritize life.
Work vs Life
Regarding the phrase “work to live”, it comes in complete disagreement with what the message of this blog is all about: Life is all Around. If you work in order to live, this implies that you have divided your life between work and “real” life”.
I am asking, Are you not alive when you work? Does a universal force or a divine entity takes you off your bed, dresses you up and drives you to work? Or do you consciously decide to go to work and put an effort there? The fact is you are as alive at work as you are when going out.
The moment you look at work as a means towards something else, slowly your mind concludes that this is not something you are supposed to enjoy as such. You are looking for when it is time to leave. Do not divide your life as work and rest of life.
You can see everything as an opportunity for personal growth. There are many ways to do that. One simple way is to bring some awareness in the words and movements you unconsciously do or speak. The way you grab your coffee, the step you take in a stair, the “good morning” to a colleague, all can be done with a certain level of alertness and compassion if you are willing.
Work as a way to touch people’s lives
Whatever you do, you can try to touch people’s lives; that is all that really matters about work. Any work that you do in the world is truly worthwhile for you only if you are able to touch people’s lives deeply. How deeply you touch people’s lives depends on how involved you are with what you do.
I understand that if you want to help people, you may think that the type of work you do is very important. Indeed, some jobs offer more opportunities so it can be easier to make a difference in people’s lives. You can think of a non-profit, United Nations or UNESCO. Sure, these jobs are ideal for helping people, but this doesn’t mean all other jobs are a dead-end.
Even if you join a company which you may think it prioritizes profit over people, it is still possible to use that work for your growth. You may not be able to decide how to run this company. But you don’t need to become a victim and give up.
Become part of the solution
This is a choice you have. When you see filth, you can become allergic to it and become an ascetic. Or you say: everywhere is anyway filth, let me also become filth. Or you transform the filth to something beautiful.
Have you heard that we usually put actual organic filth in our crops? We do that because we know that this very same filth can be transformed to a plant, a fruit or a flower, if we do the right things with it.
Don’t think you have to be in the business world as a victim of what is existing right now. There is nobody to blame for it. This is just how we shaped it. We are all responsible for that. This is how we do business today. But if we are willing, we can change that.
So we can try to transform the filth into a flower, into something beautiful. This choice we have. We can always choose to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
- Do not see work as something different from life. Work is life.
- Try to touch people’s lives in one way or another; this is what matters most about work
- No matter your work, you can use it for your growth; be part of the solution