Wednesday is often coupled with the moniker: ‘hump day’. Middle of the week. Half-way done with the mind-numbing banality of workaday existence. Half-way to the weekend when we can kick back, forget the week, and try to remember what it’s like to bealive.
For many this is an all-too familiar scenario: at best, we work to live; at worst, we live to work.
So this week, we will include the Fifth Limb of the Buddha’s Eightfold Path:Wise Livelihood. Traditionally, Wise Livelihood implied supporting oneself in a way that refrained from harm: supporting oneself legally, peacefully and honestly.
And often, we can get quite idealistic about what Wise Livelihood should look like. Social activism. Environmental activism. Political activism. Mother Theresa. Gandhi. Aung San Suu Kyi. And if we don’t live up to these ideals, we may feel like we’re walking the path somewhat fraudulently.
For me, an alternative and useful reflection came from Howard Thurman, who said: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
When we are willing to ask, “What makes me come alive?” there can be a re-alignment with a long-forgotten purpose. Sometimes that purpose requires us to step out of comfortable circumstances and explore something more compelling. At other times, that purpose may simply necessitate a fresh connection with the work at hand.
Either way, mindfulness creates the room to really explore our connection with whatever we’re doing. Are we in a stale job? Or are we simply living in a stale way? Mindfulness sheds light on our patterns and encourages an energized renewal.
Points for Practice:
1.Find a word that, if you embodied it, would bring more aliveness to your work. The word could be ‘service’, ‘passion’, ‘curiosity’, ‘connection’ etc. For the week, use the question, “Where is thepassion in this moment?” Or whatever your word is. The idea is not to use the question to judge your experience, but to have the question open you to the possibility of that quality in the moment
2. For some modern research on what really motivates us, I highly recommend watching this short,10 minute animated lecture by Daniel Pink, called Drive.
Originally published on November 17, 2010