If you’re coming home tired from work even though you haven’t done much physically, it’s probably because you have done a lot mentally.

You lose mental energy when you dwell on what has passed, and when you project future scenarios. This makes you feel anxious or excited in the present, taking away your focus on the work at hand, thus causing even more energy to drain away.

Find an ideal

The secret to finding energy, focus and joy in your work is to hold an ideal that you love, and work for its sake.

Your ideal can be:

The people whom you serve: Examples are a doctor who loves her patients, a tour guide who loves meeting people from different countries, or a mother dedicated to her family.

The service you provide: Whether small or significant, any service you provide helps others in some way. You could be a cashier at a supermarket, a massage therapist, an insurance agent or a politician, and have the satisfaction of knowing that you are providing others with a useful service.

The work itself: If your work involves expressing your creativity, solving problems, strategizing or working with your hands, chances are that you enjoy what you do and create.

When you love your ideal and work for its sake, you take the attention off yourself and your concerns. This calms and uplifts your mind, which not only helps you gain a better focus on what you are doing, but also makes the work more enjoyable.

The right attitude

To keep up the motivation and the joy that you find in your work, there are some other tweaks you can make in your attitude.

The principles of karma yoga*, the art of doing the right actions with the right attitude, show us how to do this:

1. Work without personal likes and dislikes: Our duties entail doing many tasks, some of which we may dislike. We often want to do only what we enjoy, and try to avoid or delay doing what we find difficult, inconvenient or unpleasant. Personal likes or dislikes should not stand in the way of doing our duties.

2. Do your prescribed duties readily, cheerfully, efficiently and to the best of your ability.

3. Detach from outcome: We really have no control over what results we get. We only have control over what we do and how we do it. And so, we are advised to do our best and not worry or insist on particular rewards. Attachment to the rewards brings unnecessary worry and anxiety that causes mental energy to leak away.

4. Accept results cheerfully, without resistance or complaints: Grumbling, resisting or complaining about the results doesn’t change them in any way. The sooner we accept them, the sooner we can move on.

5. Be grateful: There’s always some good in every situation. Even if the work isn’t ideal, we can always find things to be grateful for. You can see how your work provides you with employment and income for your life. You can be grateful for your clean and comfortable work environment, your own desk and supplies and any perks that are part of our job. Remembering to be grateful infuses peace and joy in your work. It doesn’t change things around you, but it does change how you see things and handle them.

*For a better understanding of karma yoga, read: How to use your work to grow spiritually.

The right attitude brings spiritual growth

When you love your ideal, and put your heart into your work in the karma yoga spirit, you discover joy in the work itself. There’s no more hankering for results or wishing for what cannot be changed. You gain a better ability to focus on what you are doing and do it well.

What’s more, you gain inner maturity and your actions become a means to grow spiritually.

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Manisha Melwani

Manisha Melwani is a teacher and the author of, "So You're a Spiritual Being–Now What?" She offers spiritual and wellness solutions for life and stress management. She teaches classes in personal growth, stress management and meditation. She is based in Richmond Hill and Markham, Ontario. Contact her for more information or to have her speak to your group or organization. She also offers private counselling sessions in person or on-line.
Manisha Melwani

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