7 ways to love the job you don’t love

“Do the job you love and you will never have to work another day in life!” How often have we heard this phrase? However in reality most of us are saddled with jobs with which there is little or no love lost. We find our jobs dreary, dull and lifeless. While we may chase imaginary dreams of pursuing our passions as suggested above we are also afraid.  Here are 7 concrete ways by which you can actually start loving your job, rather than chasing imaginary wisps of dreams. Here is a great article “In the name of love”  that exhorts us not to use the ‘do what you love mantra’ since it devalues work and hurts workers.

Count your blessings:  You are in your current job because it does offer you one of these – security, money, or a position of power. The first thing that you need to do is to be grateful for all the things that your job offers rather than focusing on the negative aspects of your job.  A secure, well paid job ensures that you & your family are well provided. This is something that is extremely important and cannot be overlooked or value underestimated. A job in which you hold a position of power is vital to getting things done. So the first thing that you need to do is to count all the blessings that your current job provides

Don’t focus on the negatives: Very often we keep focusing on the bad aspects of the job. Maybe you have a bad boss. Maybe the atmosphere in your work environment is terrible. Maybe you have to do seemingly insignificant and inconsequential things. In these case try to understand how your job and role fits into the large scheme of the organization. It is likely that the work you do is critical in the big picture. Try to understand your job better

No job is monotonous in reality: In reality no job is monotonous. It is your thinking and focusing on the repetitive parts alone that make it so. You need to be creative about how to make your job more interesting. For e.g. let us take the case of somebody whose job is to sort and deliver mails.  On the one had this person could do his job mechanically. On the contrary if the mail sorter decides to take interest he can do the following. The sorter could mentally make note of the places where most mails come from and the places where most mails go to.  The mail sorter could learn about the countries by closely inspecting the stamps on these mails. So in reality it is up to us to make our jobs more interesting. Climbing Mount Everest could also be boring if the only thought in one’s mind during the climb was the fact that you had to put one foot in front of another. If this was so, there would be no Hilary and no Tenzing. Could we have landed on the moon?

At some level, all work is boring: From afar the other side always looks alluring! If you are an employee in a large organization it may appear that you should try your hand at entrepreneurship. We are under the misconception that we will be our own boss. However even entrepreneurs have customers and clients as bosses. In any job we have to work in a framework which has constraints. The not-so successful entrepreneur will wish for the comfort of large organizations and those in big enterprises will want the freedom of startups. We have to accept what we have and make the best of it.

By all means, pursue your passion: Nobody stopped you from pursuing your passion. Maybe it is not practical to pursue your passion full-time when you have a ‘seemingly well-paid’ job. Go ahead follow you heart outside office hours. Pursue whole-heartedly your interest in painting, music, photography, etc. Having this outlet in life where you fully and completely enjoy your passions will lessen the dreariness you see in your regular job. This will give you more tolerance for doing your daily job

Learn something new: In these days of the internet there is so much to learn. Pick any subject. There are courses, blogs, videos etc where you will find all the material you need to pick almost any art. So try your hand in something unique – check out the art of sushi cooking, origami, jazz music, writing poetry, short stories, pottery etc. The joy of learning will keep you young and will give you the energy to tide through regular work

Do something larger than yourself: Get involved in something that is larger you’re your petty self. Spend some time in social service. Teach some underprivileged kids during weekends. Remember this life is not just about you and your job. There is a world out there! Go out and do the world a good turn! Your perspective in life will change for the better and you will quit worrying yourself sick about your job.

In reality there is no point in fretting and fuming about the job you have. We really need to learn to love our job. However I am saying that you should continue in your current job all your life. The time you waste complaining about your daily job can be better spent in honing your skills.  Hopefully the skills that acquire if you are diligent enough can be used for your next move possibly for a job you love better.

So quit complaining about your job. Start loving it and move on!

Sermon on the Mount – Truly sublime

Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3- 5:48) and (Luke 6:20 – 6:49) is truly sublime in its grandeur. The sermon is awe inspiring and truly majestic in its depth, breadth and philosophical import. The sermon is based on the two fundamental pillars of love and mercy.  Christ says that harboring anger against anyone as condemnable as murder itself.  One does not need to commit an act to transgress righteous behavior. Evil thoughts by themselves are themselves heinous. Hence hatred, lust, contempt or jealousy is bad in itself. In fact Christ goes on to say “Judge not, lest ye be judged!”   We have no right to criticize, pass judgments or opinions about others when we are less than perfect ourselves. There is no point criticizing about the “mote” in another’s eye when you have “beam” in your own eye.

The central point of Christ’s teachings is the need to repay with kindness any act of hatred towards you. This is contrary to the tit-for-tat and the eye for an eye we generally tend to react. For he says “for whosoever smites thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” and give, give freely to anybody who asks anything of you. With regard to charity Christ says “thy left hand should not know what thy right hand is doing”. There is no need to trumpet about one’s generosity and one’s kindness. This is similar to the Gita’s teaching which requires us to involve ourselves in charity without any regard to the expectations or fruits whatsoever.

Where the sermon truly sweeps you off your feet is where Christ asks to instead of loving our neighbor and hating our enemy to “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, pray for those who despise and persecute you”.  This is truly contrary to mankind’s years and years of conditioning where we react with animosity towards people we hate. We react with anger to insults and contempt. Christ asks to repay with love and kindness all acts of enmity and hatred.

With regard to forgiveness and mercy Christ’s response to Peter who asks him “how many times should I  forgive my brother if he sins against me. Seven times?”  To this Jesus says “Seventy times seven”. This is clearly a figure of speech and the crux is that we have to forgive and show mercy always and as many times as needed, simply because “so likewise shall my heavenly father do also unto you”. As human beings we err many times in our lives and God forgives us always.

What is really inspiring about the Sermon on the Mount is its all encompassing love and forgiveness that it preaches. Rather than behaving with anger and hatred towards people we hate, as we are programmed to react, we are encouraged to show mercy and behave with love and compassion. It really brings forth our human side of nature. The Sermon on the Mount is truly awe inspiring.

Parallels in Hindu & Christian philosophy

It is remarkable that Hindu and Christian philosophies which evolved independently of one another more than 2 millenniums ago have such striking similarities.

1) The Bible maintains that all human beings have a soul behind the material body. The Bible also states that somebody can hurt the body but not the soul which is immortal. According to the Hindu belief behind the body is the unchangeable Atman which is immutable and eternal. In Chapter 2 of the Gita Krishna expounds “That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable Atman.”

2) According to Christian thought is the concept of sin. Based on our actions in this world we will be judged on the ‘day of judgment’ when the good deeds of the person will be weighed against the bad deeds. A virtuous person will enter heaven or the kingdom of God and an evil person will enter Hell. Similarly according to the Mahabharata there is a concept of “swarga” or heaven and “naraga” or hell. Chitragupta is the king who keeps tally of the good acts of the person against the evil acts and sends the person to either swarga or naraga. However the Hindu philosophy differs slightly from Christian thought in that a human being’s stay in swarga or naraga is not permanent and he will have to undergo another rebirth. The concept of rebirth is not there in Biblical thought.

3) In the Bible, in Matthew 7.7 are the words “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”. There is a similar saying in the Ramayana which states “If only it would ask, it would tell the truth”.

It is really amazing that these two major religions of the world have such similar ideology.

A Strategy for Happiness

Kenichi Ohmae in his classic book, “The Mind of a Strategist”, on organizational strategy, poses a very important question. While the book is devoted to strategies for solving organizational issues, the question he poses is pertinent even in our daily lives. This question that Kenichi Ohmae poses to us is this: Are the questions we ask designed to address the symptoms of a problem or are the questions so framed so as to point to possible solutions? In most cases, he says, we err towards asking questions that try to remedy particular symptoms.

This is what this post is going to focus on. There is an art to questioning. As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “I would prefer a man who asks the right questions to a man who knows the right answers”. With regard to happiness, we should not ask ourselves “Why am I unhappy?” rather we should ask ourselves, “How can I make myself happy?”

The former question tries to focus on our laundry list of problems. Each of us will always have a set of pet peeves in life. Such a question will only bring forward all our miseries in life. It could be not having the right job, not getting a promotion or people not subscribing to your point of your view. Whatever may be the reason, when we ask ourselves “Why am I unhappy?” we are setting ourselves for further unhappiness by dwelling on our problems in life.

The problem with the earlier question is that while it focuses on the issues in our life it does not point towards any solution. We will just be turned towards many things that are not in our control and we will feel helpless.

Rather the right question we should put to ourselves should be “How can I make myself happy?” With this type of questioning we are forced to look for constructive ways out of our present unhappy state. The answers could be as simple as starting a reading habit or it could be starting on some creative endeavor like painting, poetry or photography. Others may find peace in doing random acts of kindness.

So our strategy for happiness should be based on the right questions that we pose for ourselves. The art of asking the right questions actually goes beyond personal happiness. It can be used as an effective way of solving our daily problems in life.

The ride of life

Our lives are one long journey in time. We each go through life in our own specific vehicle “the mind”. We are the occupants of this vehicle and we go through the different stages of life in it. This psycho-physical vehicle, the mind, which we will call the PPV, is unique from other vehicles we know of. Unlike other vehicles the PPV has a mind of its own (pun unintended). While we are the effective driver of the PPV there are many times in life when the PPV can take over the control and takes us on a trip. The other important fact about the PPV is that it programmed or conditioned from our past experiences, from our habits and from our biases.

To a majority of us the PPV takes us on a ride and we are not even aware of it. The PPV decides on destinations and also the routes it needs to take. It may decide that the destination is “greed” and it will take us on a greedy trip. Alternatively the PPV may decide to embark on a “pride” trip which will result in feeding our ego. While we may experience the different emotions that the PPV chooses for us, most of the times we don’t even realize that we are being taken for a ride.

When the emotions of greed, conceit, hatred take a hold of us we are aware of its effects. The mind wrests complete control over us and we are in its sway. Unless we consciously decide to put ourselves in the driver’s seat and consciously steer our lives we will be buffeted by pettiness and evil ideas.

All great sages from time immemorial have stressed the importance of being constantly aware of the workings of the mind. However it is also the most difficult, unless we consciously put our whole hearted effort towards it.

Hence we must ensure that we are not driven by the mind but control our journey in life based on good values of integrity, compassion and kindness.

The Atman or Soul is closer to the heart

The Atman or Soul is closer to our heart than our head

Our mind is a wonderful instrument. With it we can analyze, invent, solve and do a lot of things. But the mind is only capable of intellectualizing. The head is capable of performing a lot of useful functions. We can think, solve, create and analyze with our heads. With our heads we process thoughts. In other words our minds are nothing more than thought processing mechanisms. It will not be an exaggeration to say that in some day in the future man will be able to mimic the thought processing capability of the mind.

On the other hand, the heart is the seat of far more subtler emotions like love, compassion, tolerance etc. These are unique and can never be imitated by machines. It is the seat of nobler emotions than the mind. The heart is generally considered as the seat of these emotions. However the heart is just another organ. Can it be the place where these emotions generate?

In my opinion emotions like love, kindness or tolerance emanate somewhere from the chest. The psycho-physiological activities behind these emotions must be far more complex but it is centered in the middle of the chest where the heart lies. Our conscience is also generally assumed to be centered on our heart.

Devotion, faith or bhakti also can also only emanate from this heart region. Faith or bhakti cannot come from the mind through reading of scriptures or philosophy. We cannot intellectualize the concept of the Supreme.

A good life is full of love, compassion, kindness and devotion to a Supreme Being. Hence it is clear that the seat of human goodness in general comes from the heart.

Also central to several faiths of this world is the concept of a Personal Soul or the Atman. Since the Atman or the Soul can only be centered on human goodness it becomes obvious that the Soul and the Atman are closer to the heart than to the head.

True faith is difficult

True faith or bhakti, devotion or all an encompassing love of God is very difficult to achieve in real life. We generally assume that the simple act of praying, chanting bhajans will take us closer to God. But mindless or even mindful saying of prayers will take us no closer to the divine. Bhakti or devotion is something that has to be grasped by us both in body and spirit in our journey in life.

However all the really enlightened souls have clearly indicated that bhakti, faith and love are the real method to achieve liberation.

According to Christ it is an all encompassing love. Love that is beyond simple definitions. We are to love everybody else as we love ourselves and also love our enemies. To do this requires us to really rise above pettiness in life and is really an impossible task to accomplish. However we should follow this path if we want to get closer to God.

The Buddhist philosophy advocates moderation not just in action but also in thought. We cannot harm anyone even in thought. The Buddhism method of liberation is based on kindness and compassion. As human beings we are so prone to anger, hatred and envy that being tolerant and compassionate always in clearly difficult.

According to Hindu philosophy bhakti or devotion is the path to liberation. Even Sri Sankara states that the path of bhakti is superior to even the path of knowledge. However bhkati in the sense implied is a complete internalization of true values. Our love for God should be based in true principles of kindness, truth and tolerance and we should live these principles in our daily life.

The basis of bhakti or faith is that we recognise God’s signature in all things in this universe of ours and perform service to humanity as our devotion to God.

Bhakti is not just unconditional love. Any mother will have unconditional lover for her child. It is not just mere surrender to a divine power. Surrender without the accompanying right living is useless. It is all that and much more.

What is required for true bhakti or devotion is a real internalization of values of integrity, compassion, kindness and humility. Our devotion to the Supreme must be accompanied by a virtuous way of life.

Bhakti or faith in reality requires us to adopt good principles as a way of life. It is a continuous process and cannot be substituted by occasional thoughts of a divine power.