Can your work feel like a chore? Be honest: your boss isn’t watching. The day-to-day routine, in which you feel as though you’re on a monotonous treadmill going nowhere, can get us down. However, by switching your priorities away from money and success to happiness and meaning, you can achieve greater career satisfaction.
At beanddo, we’ve always liked the expression “find out what you’re good at, then give it away”. Not much of a business model on the surface, but in fact it’s a hugely effective one if you’re aiming to make your work meaningful, helpful and happy.
Rather than do things for free, you simply learn to push your thoughts of reward for what you do into the background. You remove expectation and disconnect from always thinking ‘what’s in it for me?’, because the reward is in doing the work.
If you’ve been underwhelmed with work for a long time, this can seem like a scary and often impossible prospect. But you can make it happen.
The American mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell summed it up when he said:
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls”.
In other words, find out what you’re good at (follow your bliss) and at some point, somebody will pay you for it.
Our beanddo teacher training manual opens with this wonderful quote from one of our meditation heroes, David Lynch:
“Stay true to yourself. Let your voice ring out, and don’t let anybody fiddle with it. Never turn down a good idea, but never take a bad idea. And meditate. It’s very important to experience that self, that pure, consciousness. It’s really helped me. I think it would help any film maker. So start diving within, enlivening that bliss consciousness.
Grow in happiness and intuition. Experience the joy of doing and you’ll glow in this peaceful way. Your friends will be very, very happy with you. Everyone will want to sit next to you. And people will give you money!”
This is pretty much the core principle to finding ‘meaning’ in your work. Stay focused on what you’re doing and don’t let anybody fiddle with it, so that you can grow in happiness and intuition and know the joy of doing. When we put it like that, doesn’t it sound much more achievable? That’s because it is!
Finding meaning in work
To find meaning in work, you don’t have to be out there repairing the Hubble Space Telescope or helping the hungry and dispossessed in Yemen. Although either of those would be pretty impressive. No, to find meaning in your work, no matter what you do, requires just a simple shift of connection between you and what you’re doing. And as Lynch says, meditation is the key.
With regular meditation practice, not only do you start to manage those three workplace bullies, ‘I, Me and Mine‘, who get in the way of doing meaningful work, but you find any work done in this way becomes meaningful, joyful and creative.
You probably know people who are ignorant of this principle. They believe they are always correct in their view and that there is nothing else. They work for reward, in terms of money, status and power. These people are ultimately unhappy as there is very little meaning in their life and what they do.
The Science of Selfless Service
To go a little deeper, many of the world’s great teachers would call this shift of consciousness the ‘science of selfless service’, or ‘karma yoga’ (the yoga of action). With practice, it soon becomes the art of inspired action. When one’s actions are not based on personal reward, with your mind focused on some future date when the reward is delivered, the mind pretty much stays centred and present.
When the mind is steady and focused purely on the action in front of you, you will discover that your work flows, distractions and mental agitation fall away. And then you notice then instead of the mind racing after many different solutions there is always just one decision to make and one solution to follow moment-by-moment. Your work just seems to flow.
To make work more meaningful, the priority is not to think about the outcome of the reward – that will come as long as you’re doing everything for the right reasons.
If you’d like to learn how to find greater meaning and happiness in your work, review our modern meditation programmes.