People often consider their spiritual work to be a separate arena from their worklife. In truth, the workplace can function as an ideal environment in which you get paid to grow spiritually. Here are six ways:
1)You have the opportunity to confront your grandiosity.
The daily tasks it takes to become successful in business confront the glamor, fame, and wealth the ego feels is its due. On the career path, you start at the bottom and work your way up. The ego humbles itself in the process of admitting how much you don’t know.
2) You learn how to work.
To be successful at anything takes an inordinate amount of effort. Much of New Age thought has hurt its adherents, hypnotizing them into believing that all they have to do to “manifest” wealth and a life of their dreams is to think the right thoughts. To achieve anything on this plane of existence takes much effort and repeated actions toward a goal.
3) You learn to plant seeds and wait for the harvest.
A farmer sows more seeds than needed because she doesn’t know which ones will sprout. Many of the efforts you make to be successful at work will not produce results, now or ever, yet you must make them. We learn through our worklife to take actions consistently, and to wait patiently for the payoff.
4) You learn to be of service to something bigger than yourself.
In other words, you practice karma yoga, the yoga of selfless service. Children and narcissists are only interested in what serves themselves; mature human beings are interested in using their lives in service of something more, whether their families, the company they work for, their communities, or a Higher Power.
5) You earn real, lasting self esteem instead of the fake kind that comes from repeating affirmations.
“Self esteem comes from performing estimable acts.” This slogan from 12-Step Programs teaches us that self esteem must be earned and does not come from living in a selfish way.
6) You reap the benefits of being engaged in Right Livelihood, one of the elements of Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path to awakening.
It feels good to know that your work helps create a better world. If your job is to sell cigarettes you might not enjoy that feeling, but all the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, teachers, doctors and street cleaners are making significant contributions to the human adventure.
© 2014 Catherine Auman This article is an excerpt from Catherine’s book Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth