Monday morning- the beginning of a new day and a new work week. As I think about people all over the country on their way to work, I call to mind something Jesus once said as quoted in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas (The Buddha taught something very similar):
Do not do what you hate
If a recent study reported in the New York Times is accurate, the majority of people who go to work today will be hating what they do.
An article titled, Why You Hate Work, has reported some staggering and surprising statistics. Apparently more than 70% of the folks who show up for work today are on the road to burnout in their jobs. Most people find their work to be " a depleting and dispiriting experience," and the researchers suggest that it's getting worse.
The article reported some rather obvious reasons why so many people "hate their jobs" - the work is tedious and not mentally challenging, or the demands are so great and the technology of the day forces them to take their jobs home with them after the workday is over. People also report that they don't feel supported or valued for what they do; however, the major reason for this growing sense of job dissatisfaction is "spiritual" in nature.
People report that they feel most depleted when their jobs do not connect them to any "higher purpose." They spend the majority of their day at a job that seems meaningless - churning out a product, "spinning their wheels," doing work for the sake of work.
We all want to feel like we are somehow contributing to the greater good. We want to feel as if the work we do is somehow contributing to society. If people feel that their everyday jobs do not connect them to this "higher purpose," then, of course, they will hate what they do.
But the more I think about it, maybe those 70% of dispirited and depleted workers might do well to re-think the impact of whatever work they do, no matter how seemingly insignificant.
Buddhists teach that the isolated individual self is a myth and an illusion - everything and everyone "is" a complex web of interdependent relationship. Since we are a complex web of interrelationship, there is nothing anyone does that doesn't somehow contribute to a higher purpose and influence the common welfare.
In my meditation this morning I imagine all those people going to work on this Monday morning.
Some will be stocking shelves in a supermarket, others may be working on an assembly line, others may be driving a truck, picking up trash, answering phones. Some may work in hospitals caring for the sick and the elderly and others will be sitting in board rooms or in a church or at a desk at the White House. But it all counts- every act from picking up the trash to making decisions in the White House is significant. It all makes an impact on the whole system.
All the work that everyone performs this day is a spiritual act - all of it contributing to a higher purpose and the common good.
Do not do what you hate.
Do not hate what you do.