(From Watkins’ Mind Body Spirit magazine, issue 33, Spring 2013)
This may seem an obvious statement but here goes anyway – many people around the world are now suffering in their work in some way. Not everyone suffers, but many do, millions, perhaps even billions. I know about suffering at work from personal experience. Suffering can come in many ways: it can come through feeling aimless and bored where the only reason for being there is to collect the pay cheque at the end of the month; it can come through stress, overwork and burnout; it can come through overarching ambition, when you try too hard and for too long to climb up the corporate ladder only to find it is leaning in the wrong direction. Sometimes suffering arises through unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately manipulation, conflict, and even bullying are commonplace. Whatever the work, there is always the possibility of feeling undervalued, criticised or harshly judged. Suffering can come through feeling trapped in a job that feels joyless or hard – where you have little say in the content or context of your work. Suffering can be physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual. There is the kind of physical suffering that arises when the stress or joylessness of work creates on-going tension in the body. This in turn can lead to ill-health and serious illness. There is emotional suffering that leads to anger, grief, misery, and unhappiness. We can suffer mentally by recycling thoughts around failure, insignificance and powerlessness – these thoughts can coalesce into fixed beliefs that say we cannot positively influence or shape our destiny in any way. Then there is spiritual suffering which is more commonplace than you may think. This arises when our work disconnects us from our true essence. The simple message of my book is suffering in your work is unnecessary. When we go beyond our habitual patterns of suffering a whole new world of possibility opens up. Here are a few areas covered in this book:
Work and Meaning – The world of work we are entering into demands that we are on track, have a sense of direction and purpose, and we seek to make a meaningful contribution to others. Real meaning is more than simply chasing money or status.
Work and Presence – The world of work we are entering into demands that we are awake and conscious, rather than asleep or on auto-pilot. When we enjoy what we are doing and enjoy the people we work with, then we will usually be more present.
Work and Courage – The world of work we are entering into demands that we be courageous. The current working climate does not favour conformity, it favours courage. Courage is about maintaining a healthy individuality when working with others. It takes courage to know our values and work by them. Without courage we will simply endure situations that we should not!
Work and Flexibility – The world of work we are entering into demands that we are adaptable. That we know how to change, that we can move with agility from one set of skills to another. That we let go of our fixed plans and are more spontaneous. Adaptability is a core principle of evolution. Being adaptable means that you can shed what you do not need, you can downsize, take time out, try out new things, think outside of the box, and move career paths if you desire.
Work and Possibility – The world of work we are entering into demands that we reclaim a sense of possibility. This means that liberation happens foremost on the mental level. A free mind can create a life that feels free. A trapped mind is not really aware of its true capabilities, gifts, and potential.
Work and Talent – The world of work we are entering into demands that we bring our natural talents to the work at hand and play to our strengths. Work is a very powerful way to connect us with our gifts, talents and inner resources – often ones that we do not realise we possess. When you access a gift you lift and bless the world around you.
Work and Intuition – The world of work we are entering into demands that we be more whole-brained. We cannot rely on just logic and intellect we need our intuition and imagination to survive and thrive in these times of change. You need to be more whole-brained in your approach. Does it make sense to only utilise half of your brain? Through our intuition our Higher Self can start to inform and shape our future career path.
Work and Creative Play – The world of work we are entering into demands that we are more creative, playful and up for having fun. If your work is not fun then you need to consider changing something, either the way you work or the work itself. The old Work Ethic no longer really fits our current landscape. There is a new ethic emerging which is more about play than graft.
Work and Love – The world of work we are entering into demands that work is a love affair. Work does not have to be passionless, work and love are not mutually exclusive. When you are doing something you love then it will not seem like work. We are passionate when we are working in accordance with our values. Passion is the doorway to inspiration, where our minds are also on fire, but this fire comes from the heart.
Work and Bliss – Work that is disconnected from our spirit can cause suffering. The good news is that nowadays we can live a spiritual life without retreating from the world. Most of the spiritual people I have met work, rather than live in monasteries. Bliss happens when we go beyond states of boredom, stress or fatigue and instead access learn to access states of relaxation, creativity, clarity, curiosity, focus, passion and wisdom.
Steve Nobel is a co-director of Alternatives (for the past 12 years) – a not for profit organisation based in St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, London. Steve is also a personal and business coach who specialises in working with creative clients – many of his clients are actors, copy-writers, designers and playwrights. He is an interviewer and has many free interviews with spiritual authors available on his website. He also has a number of free podcasts available on The Enlightenment of Work. He is the author of three non-fiction published books and is currently writing his fourth. www.stevenobel.com, twitter.com/London_Has_Soul