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It goes without saying that almost every one of us has something we consider work. In most all cases, it is the way we make a living (derive income) or how we support someone who is “bringing home the bacon,” as they say. For a few of us, and a potential for most of us is to make our work our passion and an integral part of our spiritual life. Our natural conditioning from childhood teaches us that we need money to live and that's why we work. Our education conditions us to make work how we contribute to society and how we can gain recognition for our accomplishments. Fortunately and unfortunately, for most of us in the United States, our education does not focus on our future work until well into high school, if then. Our struggles with work begin with our struggles in defining what our work will be. A positive change in our society has been the reduction of gender role models that have been so difficult to break out of in the 20th century. Today, there are very few gender specific vocations, except those that require a specific gender for success (e.g. motherhood). And even motherhood, after the birth process, can be accomplished by a unique male.
From Life Struggles....to Living by Spirit
Making Work Part of Your Spiritual Life
By Jef Bartow
Beyond getting help as we approach adulthood in choosing a vocation or what we consider work, many human inadequacies and selfishness lend to making our work experiences a struggle. As it is with many other struggles in life, it is mainly our attitude, orientation and behavior that makes work a struggle. As we step up to change our attitude and orientation, Spirit will help us to change our work environment and success in making our work a part of our spiritual life. One key struggle with work is our compensation. A majority of humans I've encountered believe they’re undercompensated for their contributions. For some, this is simply that they're paid less than someone else in the same job (i.e. male versus female). In these instances, it is simply coming to the realization that if you're willing to work for less, then your value is less. Lobbying to change certain cultural attitudes can be done in a number of ways. The second more common instance of under compensation stems from the attitude that "I do a good job, therefore I should be paid better." From experience, a majority of the time the individual has no idea the difference between pay for average work and pay for excellent work in a specific job or vocation. Resolving this attitude requires a change of behaviors.
One, do research to understand the pay scales within a specific job or vocation. Second, be willing to step up and seek specific agreements on how compensation will change based on your higher performance. Third, initiating objective performance reviews periodically is a great first step to take.
For those of you in non-monetary compensation work (e.g. stay-at-home parent), compensation and rewards are still an integral part of these work experiences. Just as was key in creating a romantic spiritual partnership, an agreement between spouses needs to include compensation and rewards for fulfilling key responsibilities within the partnership. A good example is to create a separate bank account for the stay-at-home parent that is funded periodically just like a paycheck. Obviously, there are many other ways to provide rewards for good quality parenting by your spouse. In the final key work questions, each can be applied to a job, a vocation, volunteer work, stay-at-home parenting or other means of productively contributing to society. First, do you have a positive supportive boss, partner and peer relationships in your work? In the job environment, many will say no. In other work situations, many make the assumption that they do or don't without really knowing the facts and reality. The key here is communication. We have to be willing to communicate positively with facts and figures while listening with an open mind to understand the reality of our situation. Once we know our reality, then we can move forward to change this reality when necessary. And if you can't change the reality, then change the situation. This can be a change in jobs, career, key relationship or just changes in your commitment and efforts. A good example of this is how someone refuses to reduce their intensity and attachment to a work situation when it is obvious that the extra support and positive feedback expected will not be forthcoming. Lastly, how conducive is your work environment in providing you freedom for growth and fulfilling your spiritual life? From our conditioning mentioned above, most work situations are not oriented to providing these key contributions to our spiritual growth. Whether business, art, science, politics or education, the overriding focus is usually profits, power or ego recognition. That does not mean that we cannot make our work situation a key contribution to our spiritual growth. The key here again is how we make it, not how others make it. Because our work commitment usually takes up between 20% and 30% of our daily life, our Living Spirit community provides a specific spiritual Path designed for those who choose to use their work situation as their spiritual Path. This Path is not for beginners in spiritual growth, but for those who wish to take their spiritual pursuits to the next level. Integral to this spiritual Path and a good way to begin transforming your work experience into opportunities for spiritual growth is to implement our: 9 Spiritualizing Habits for Life. These nine habits were specifically defined based on my commitment to use my business career as an integral part of my spiritual commitment. They were developed over a period of 10 to 15 years and can be applied in any work situation. As mentioned in the introduction to the article series available in our Living Spirit community, it is best, but not critical, to implement these nine habits sequentially. Without going into detail here, it is true to say that these nine habits will transform your attitude, orientation and behavior to work and most every other area of your life. To conclude, transforming our work from a life struggle to living by Spirit will mostly be by our initiative, reflection and internal change. What is consistent with all endeavors in life, the more we take steps, the more Spirit can do the work of resolving our struggles and providing the ultimate opportunity for spiritual Hope: “the confident expectation in the success of Spirit” in our life.