Can your job make you a better person? Is there any value in viewing your daily work as a chance to bolster your compassion, integrity, and happiness? Does spirituality have any place in the office?
I believe the answers to these questions is yes. Spirituality is a bit of a loaded word though.
I never liked mixing work and God, and not just because I was an HR person. To me it always seemed fraught with peril. I remember stifling an eye roll whenever someone would forcefully state "Merry CHRISTMAS" to a Jewish or Athiest coworker, as if they were ready to bust out some dueling pistols.
So when I say work can be a spiritual practice, I don't mean we should load up with our chosen symbology and start preaching next to the water cooler. I mean the broader idea that by bringing our values and our humanity into the office, we have a chance to become more enlightened human beings.
Take for example that person at work you can't stand. Is this an opportunity to practice forgiveness, compassion, and patience?
Or what about feeling tired and burned out? It could be an opportunity to be appreciative of the many joys in your life, while recognizing that our "suffering" is small compared to that of others.
What about coping with feelings that you are not valued at your workplace? Can you examine those feelings, identify the source, and get clear about the difference between your feelings and the intentions of others?
It seems to me that we become better people one moment at a time, by dealing gracefully with the everyday choices of living. Do we choose blame, or responsibility? Do we choose anger, or compassion? Do we withdraw, or do we struggle?
I've been trying on this mindset lately, and looking for the hidden meaning inside each nuance of my day. I find that I'm taking life a bit slower, enjoying the ride a bit more, and ending my day feeling more centered.
If your job just feels like a job some days, take heart. What we do becomes our life. The way we live our life changes everything.
Cheri Baker is an Organizational Development Consultant in Seattle, WA