May First, in many parts of the world, is considered ‘Labour Day”, so it leads to the consideration of what we, and our minds, consider work and play, labour and leisure…
The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both. – James A Michener
1. Finding Purpose in Labour
I read an article recently about a company that writes biting parodies on inspirational or motivational posters – you know the ones – “Goals”, “Integrity” etc. This company, instead, writes something like “Meetings: None of Us is as Dumb as All of Us” and their owners suggest that people finding purpose and meaning in what they do is close to an urban legend. That money drives most people’s working lives. They may be right. At least on a certain level.
The way the conscious mind, also known as the rational mind, works is to give us a logical reason for whatever we do. It makes ‘sense’ of our actions. So, in societies that seem to have a price tag on everything, it is little wonder that we attribute or rationalise our work as money related. There may, however, be a number of other reasons for our working (and striving) – something that the subconscious mind knows but keeps hidden from us. These may include the need for security, love, value, worth, or to connect with others or the greater whole.
We were born connected, lovable, secure, valued and worthy, but along the way – through actions, deeds or implications of others – these were put on a fragile footing. When we don’t feel that way inside, then there are many ways our mind attempts to find and foster these feelings again. Work is one of the things that humans do – but you may have heard me say before that we are ‘human beings’ not ‘human doings’ so if we place all our energy and dependence on an external force to ‘fix’ us or fill a gap within ourselves, we may be disappointed. And just as success breeds success, so does disappointment and disillusionment build on itself. Which means that no matter what job or position, the situation won’t right itself until change has happened on the inside. Like blaming a door for being in the wrong place when we walk into a wall. The door may be functioning properly; we may just need to move ourselves to meet it.
2. Work is a Perspective
There are many stories that help to capture this idea – the Internet is full of them. Just like business opportunities (lemons to lemonade anyone?), the way we see our labour either places us in a situation of fulfilment and discovery or in one of despair and drudgery.
I am lucky, I have my own company, do (for the most part) what I love and was meant to do, and can see, on an individual basis in the short-term and sense, on a global basis in the long-term the reason I’m in this job. But how do we gain a different perspective in a 9 to 5 (or 8 to 10) job, working for ‘the man’? I’m not 100% sure what might work for you or people you care about, but here are a few suggestions that may help in shifting perspective:
a. Who you are: Remember who you are, is not what you do. Please take a moment to write down all your strengths and examples of past successes and present blessings. If you need help, look for it (partners, children, parents, friends) – they may be in a more positive frame to sing your praises. Look at it and revel in your own goodness and personal mastery. This is a foundation, or start to finding perspective. And what better a gift to give your colleague then a note with all their personal greats written down?
b. The end benefit and teaming up: Find out who you are working for (not necessarily your manager) and what they company, product or service might be doing to benefit them and those around them. When you can make a connection at that point, it makes it easier to see that you are part of a more important whole. My niece Gillian’s CD says, “working together is always the best way to do things”. Can you create an inspiration circle with others (to remind of strengths, find different solutions), or see yourself as part of a greater team (from your customer base to the whole world)? It is a place to start – many hands make light work, as they say.
c. Keep the faith: There are days for most of us that seem like they are sent to try us. You have in the past, and will in the future, surmount these issues. Give yourself a pat on the back for rising to the challenges that may be sent to stretch you to succeed in ways that you wouldn’t have naturally thought of yourselves.
d. Find a little love: I don’t love accounting. Nor filing particularly. But to me it is part and parcel of the bigger picture. Maybe taking inspiration from the good of the whole helps to smooth over some of the bumps of the everyday. When I put my daily filing into the context of helping others, doing well and doing good, then my mind imagines that it is a much more enjoyable task than it could be to me. For many people it may be the other way around – liking just little bits. That’s a place to start (what you focus on expands – you may even find other ways of doing more of those aspects you love).
e. Pretend (if all else fails): The mind can’t tell the difference between real and imagined, so what work ‘horrors’ may we be imagining that become real, or what aspects of our jobs or labour can we dream to become our vocations? You don’t need to leave your situation to find a new lease on labour, just start with the best possible fantasy of the situation you’re in and watch it transform and grow.
But you may ask what’s the advantage of this airy-fairy mind stuff when I have bills to pay and need the money?
Think about this. A Scrully Blotnick study focused on people aiming to be financially millionaires. They were divided into two groups and their financial progress was tracked over time. The first group said they would pursue money first and do what they wanted to do later. The second said they would seek their interests first and trust that the money would follow. Twenty years later the results were in – one out of 1245 people from the first group were millionaires, 100 out of 255 from the second achieved that status. Discover purpose and the right perspective and who knows what wealth (material, emotional, mental or spiritual) may follow.
3. Love’s Labours Lost
The word ‘labour’ for the final stages of birthing is well established in the western world. What a funny word to link to a natural, loving process for which women were naturally created. This word, along with other birthing semantics seem to have lead to fear, tension and pain for women giving birth. They imply that welcoming of a new life into the world should somehow be hard and difficult. This needn’t be.
Hypnobirthing is one way that successfully changes the semantics and perspective on the glorious progression of bringing a child into the world. More mothers around the world are experiencing calm and connection with their new babies by taking back control of their bodies and minds to discover that their ‘labour’ doesn’t have to be laborious at all! Nadia Camilla is one of the most recent ‘hypnobabies’ in Singapore – congratulations to mother and daughter for starting out on such a great footing. (it has been shown that non-traumatic births lend themselves to fewer emotional issues and greater mental ability later on). So my suggestion is to lose this particular ‘labour’ and celebrate love and birth in a gentle and comfortable manner. April’s edition of Today’s Parents magazine wrote up more information on this important subject for mothers-to-be.
Add a valuable tool to your professional portfolio – for Doctors, Doulas, Midwives, Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, Healthcare Providers, Childbirth Educators and Hypnotherapists – Mickey Mongan of the HypnoBirthing Institute is coming to Singapore (for the first time) in June to hold their internationally known Practitioners Certification Course. Sign up to learn this supportive method for birth.