I was home from work, my littlest was napping, and my three-year-old was awake. It was that precious time when it is just us two, my 3 year-old and I. A time where I can have a focused conversation about her day, ask her who the star was at school, ask her if she played outside, and hear her tiny brain work to form sentences that would make any adult smile and laugh. She tried to talk to me and get my attention, and I pretended to listen behind the screen of my phone. I was checking work emails. Just really quick though.
"Mom. Put down your phone." She tells me. A three year old reminds her grown mother the preciousness of time and people. Can you think of anything more important than people and relationships? There are a few key ways that humans are built in order to live a healthy and balanced life, and the constant connection to social media and work is not one of them. Yet how often do I find myself connected, believing it's for the sake of inspiration and business, but in actuality, it's to the detriment of inspiration, business, and our relationships? It's time we do something about it. It's time we honor the way we are created, respect the fundamentals of human functionality, and live well within those parameters. We need to do so in order to strive to live healthy and balanced... and I say "strive" because it will always be a struggle to live this way, but it is so important that we make it a priority to try. Especially if we want to confidently say that we are living well - not just surviving. This will be a two-part post, so today we will talk about WORK. We will look at a healthy view of work and an unhealthy view, how we were created to work, and how this should shape our lives.
WORK. First we need to have a correct mindset of work. "Work" is actually a blessing and meant to push us towards a disciplined life. Work can help us learn how to use both our minds and our bodies well. If we treat it that way. Of course, there is a balance within every aspect of our lives. If we value work too much, it becomes a source of identity, a thing that can make us or break us. A question that we can ask ourselves to know whether we give our job(s) too much power in our lives is this: If I lost this job (or had to quit for one reason or another) would I be sad or would I be devastated? If we can get to a point where we can say that yes, we would be sad but ultimately know that it would not crush us, then that is a healthy place to be. But how do we get there? Chances are, if you work a lot, all day, every day, it's probably safe to say that you have let your job become a source of your identity. You are working too much. You have let work enter into a place in your life that it was never meant to enter in the first place. Do we want to spend all of our time building up a business, only to neglect all of the other rich and beautiful things life has to offer?
When we invest our time in more ways than just our job, we release the tension and expectation that we only matter because of our job or the way we perform in it. When we can hold our job with an open hand, there is a freedom that we experience where we are not controlled by the circumstances of our work, whether we had a good day or bad, but can sleep well, knowing that tomorrow is a new day with new mercies. We can honor and respect our work by performing to the best of our abilities, and if expectations aren't met, we can still be confident knowing we did our best. We can leave our work, go home, love our people well, and be at peace with the day. Because we worked hard. We did it well. And we know that the success of this business does not determine our value. You are already valuable, friend, because you were created that way- with value and importance. Your life should not be be driven by work nor should it be crushed by it. When we get to that place and can confidently say, "I will be okay with or without this job," then that is a healthy place to be.
There is also an opposite side to this, as well. Do you hate your job? Do you dread going and look at it as a burden? This is not healthy either! I have been there. I once had a job where every Sunday night, I was overcome with a sense of dread. I called it the Sunday Night Blues. There were times when I actually cried on Sunday night. CRIED! And get this, I knew that once I had a baby, I could quit. So let me tell, I had baby fever...bad. The Sunday Night Blues spurred on my Baby Fever. Thankfully my husband was a voice of reason, telling me that my motivations for wanting a child, a HUMAN BEING, were completely misplaced. Our minds are so powerful, that the thoughts we form in it can truly dictate our actions and feelings. What if every time you felt a sense of dread, you took captive the negative thoughts and replaced them with, "My job is a blessing. I get to use my mind and my body to produce an outcome that helps provide for me, my family, and the betterment of society." I think General Patton says it best:
“Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one
thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the
body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up.
It is always tired morning, noon, and night. But the body is
never tired if the mind is not tired. When you were younger
the mind could make you dance all night, and the body was
never tired... You've always got to make the mind take over
and keep going.”
I get that General Patton was talking about war (I use to be a History teacher, after all!), but I think the overall concept is true. Our minds are so powerful, we have to train them for the good! We have to train our mind to produce truth and life-giving thoughts. Once we understand the healthy way to view work, we need to put it into practice. We are going to have to train our minds on how to correctly think about work, otherwise we will let our feelings dictate our actions. You may be thinking, "but I don't feel thankful for this job. I don't feel like going to work. How am I suppose to say, 'YAY lets work!' Isn't that fake?" Well, let me ask you something. Do you act on every single feeling you have? Our feelings are so fickle, they cannot be trusted! Just remember, if we acted on every single feeling, I would've had a baby every Sunday night (if that was possible)!
To further my point, let me share with you a story. One day before work, I went through the Chic Fila drive-thru because I forgot to eat breakfast. I get super nauseous if I don't eat, so I was really looking forward to my Chic Fila biscuit. As I pulled up to the stoplight, there was a homeless man with a sign that said, "Homeless. Anything helps." I could've easily ignored the sign, let's be honest, I wanted to! I really wanted that biscuit and did not feel like giving it to the man with no food and no home. My heart is so gracious, I know (kidding). But thankfully, I realized that my hunger did not compare to his. My overall quality of life didn't compare either! He would probably enjoy that biscuit way more than I. So I rolled down my window and gave it to him. I did not want to do it, remember? Is it fake that I chose to forgo my selfish feelings for the good of another? No! My thoughts are naturally inclined to selfishness, but I don't my actions to be!
My point is this: if we can override our negative view of work with actions and thoughts that suggest otherwise, then we can hope that our feelings will one day coincide. Our feelings do not determine what is true. Let's tell ourselves truth, in hopes that we will come to believe it, no matter how we feel about our job. Let's train our thoughts to that which is good and lovely so that we can resist acting upon our feelings!
I truly hope this was helpful and that we can all seek to become more healthy and balanced people, through a correct view of work. I really desire for us all to live the life we were created to live! Stay tuned for Part Two where we will discuss the value of REST.