Have you experienced feeling tired while sitting behind your work desk, without actually having done any significant physical activity?
You are not alone; we have all experienced this. This happens because we expend a great deal of mental energy re-playing the past, feeling confused or excited in the present, and projecting scenarios about the future.
These thoughts and emotions not only make us feel mentally tired, but drain us physically, too.
How do we prevent this from happening?
Two Attitudes Toward Work
When we are called to do a job, each of us will do it with a different attitude based on our individual nature, and what we hope to gain from our work.
Actions are mainly of two types—those that are driven by a selfish, profit-motive, and those that are inspired by selfless goals and higher ideals.
A selfish attitude brings worries and anxieties, whereas work inspired by a higher goal or ideal is the key to finding fulfillment in our work.
Let’s first look at why holding a selfish attitude isn’t as rewarding as a selfless one.
Selfish actions are motivated by a mind disturbed by self-centered, petty concerns, jealousies, worries and fears.
We dissipate our energy in three main channels:
The past: We look back at our past, regret what we did, and fear repeating the same mistakes. Or perhaps, we did well, and fear not getting the same results again now.
The present: We often compare ourselves with others and feel jealous of their gains and successes. We then muddy our present moments with anxiety about our performance, and how others will in turn, judge us. And so, we feel confused about what to do, and fret about doing it well.
The future: We worry that we will not be able to gain what we want, or worse—that someone else will get it, and deprive us of it. We may also waste valuable time and energy building castles-in-the-air, projecting how we will enjoy our (uncertain) future gains.
When we don’t have higher goals, but only work for our own self-interest or advantage, there is no great inspiration. The mind quickly loses its focus and depletes its vitality through unproductive wanderings as described above. It’s no wonder then, that work often becomes laborious, stressful, and unfulfilling.
Actions Inspired by Higher Ideals
The quality of our action improves as we adopt higher ideals to inspire our work. — Swami Chinmayananda
Have you noticed that when your mind is free from stress and concerns, you have more energy to put into your day?
When we are motivated by a desire to work for a selfless goal or higher cause, the mind’s vitality is not depleted in self-oriented thinking. The energy that is conserved is channeled into the work itself. Naturally, then, work is done more efficiently, thus producing better results.
Even if we have more work to accomplish, or have to face a difficult situation, a relatively worry-free mind will give us the equanimity and focus we need to meet our challenges.
All you need to do to charge your work with energy and focus is to take the spotlight off yourself, and put it on the positive aspects of your work. This will elevate your mind.
For example, you could look at yourself as a supportive team player who contributes to the higher good of the company you work in, or who facilitates the work of your colleagues. Their success is your success.
If your work involves providing a product or service, you can ask yourself, “How can I serve better?” You could imagine the happy people that are benefitted from your work. Adopt the mentality of a generous giver, rather than someone hankering for personal gain.
If you would like to do more, and increase your circle of service, you could take up or participate in a noble cause or goal. Perhaps it could be a community, social or political cause.
One of the most rewarding attitudes towards anything that you do, is to see it as an opportunity to bring out the best in your character—to be more generous, patient, kind, helpful, cheerful and even-minded.
When you put your inner growth as a priority, you will be able to free up your mind from much stress and worry in your day-to-day life.
An altar in life
An altar in life alters your life. —Swami Tejomayananda.
I love this quote! Ultimately, the highest ideal and inspiration comes from a divine altar.
When we dedicate our actions to God or the divine, we become more relaxed mentally. We let go of our fixation on specific outcomes because we feel the presence of a benevolent hand directing our lives.
There is a greater ability to concentrate on our work. We become more efficient and get better results. With better results, we boost our chances of success.
It’s easy to see how holding on to a higher ideal (altar) is the secret to finding fulfillment not only our work, but in our entire life. *
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