The Joy of Work

It was another sunny day in December in California. A few months ago a good friend of mine who moved from Minnesota remarked how the great weather in the Golden State made it hard to live elsewhere in America. I’ve never known the difference..perhaps I need to spend some time in another state or country so I can appreciate how the sun shines yearly?

Today I was at Stanford University. It had been about a year since I’ve worked a traditional corporate job. Much of my time was spent in free-lectures offered by various universities, online classes, books, writing, cooking and going on long expedition like nature walks. Don’t you remember as a child how we use to explore the world and find a certain amount of fascination with the simplest things? Why does that leave us? Does it have to be this way? Aren’t we all still children? With that being said, I quite loved my wanderlust lifestyle. It made me feel like a kid. I intend to keep it up for as long as life allows me.

Today I was looking forward to hearing Sadhguru speak. He’s somewhat of a spiritual celebrity in the West. I’ve grown to enjoy his teachings, especially while cooking – it makes cutting the onions slightly more pleasant. I first read his book, “The Flowers on the Path,” after my cousin from Canada gave it to me – well I actually took it from him. Have you ever been so close to someone that everything they own automatically becomes yours? This is my relationship with him. Put his personality on Halle Berry’s body and I’ll put a ring on it with the quickness.

Anyways, I was on campus waiting for Sadhguru. I got there a little early to enjoy the new surroundings – something I do everywhere I go. As I got to the front of the building I saw him finishing up a conversation with a few folks. He looked at me with eyes that pierced my soul while removing everything from existence. He was dark skinned – with impeccable clear complexion and his patented turban and garb. He signaled me to come over as if he knew me and had something important to share.

I put both my hands together in Namaste fashion to greet him – but he opted for my hand and gave me a sturdy handshake while holding my forearm. I said, “nice to meet you” and told him I read his book. He looked at me with intensity and said, “That book is too easy for you, read something more complicated.” I thought it was funny and endearing how someone can insult me while giving a compliment.”

I share this story because during his talk he shared a valuable piece of advice that I feel will benefit you.

Our Work

It’s no surprise that our work will take much of our lifetime.

  • 8 hours of work
  • 8 hours of sleep
  • 8 hours of friends/family

Total – 24 hours in a day

Give or take a few hours depending on how demanding your job is, about 1/3 of our life is devoted to work. If we live till 90 – that’s 30 years.

I’ve come to understand that life is not about finding the perfect job/career. We should still strive for the best if the ability and means presents itself, but it’s far more important to Work Joyously.

Almost all self-help books, advice from titans of industry and the majority of the verbiage around the west resonates with working hard, but few talk about working joyously.

Working hard can be stressful, but working with joy takes the stress out of it. It helps you enjoy life moment to moment.

This is not only helpful for spiritual well-being, but also psychological well being. If our life can be an expression of our joy then it doesn’t matter what we do and where we do it.

5 Ways to bring Joy into your life Today

  1. The chance of your existence – The probability of you existing at all comes out to 1 in 10 to the 2,685,000th power  — yes, that’s a 10 followed by 2,685,000 zeroes! To give you context, there is said to be 10 to the 80th power of atoms in the known universe. In hindsight the probability of us being here at all is 0. We don’t know why creation took place, for what purpose and we know eventually this ride will end so lamenting on anything for too long is trivial. If we can understand the sheer joy of being alive – then we can bring that joy to work.
  2. Life is Leela – “Leela” is the sanskrit word for “play”. When you think about the world objectively, without emotion and for what it is you come to some interesting conclusions. Everything humanity has created will one day perish. When our sun runs out of energy in the next 4 billions years this planet will be null and void and unless Elon Musk finds a way to propel us to a different planet – we won’t be worthy of even a memory. It’s as if our time here is a night club. We all know that the music will end sooner or later so instead of agonizing over when it does, just dance. At times we tend to fall into our problems as if they are forever. Everything will pass, but while you’re in situations that seem insurmountable to come out from – invite Joy into your life by understanding impermanence.
  3. Gratitude – It’s a practice. The practice of gratitude makes the mind stronger. Everyday I wake up with the same prayer.“Thank you for another day. I don’t know why I’m here or where I’ll go, but I’m thankful for the air in my lungs, the friends and family around me and the ability to experience this day once more.” Gratitude is infectious because through my smiles and acts of kindness I am able to see the same in people, In essence my gratitude for life gives others permission to unlock the joy that they have inside.
  4. You will die and that is lovely – If you’ve been reading my blog or you know me personally then you know how candidly I talk about death. Knowing that my time is limited has opened the floodgates to love. My heart hurts with every new person I meet because I know we will all share the same fate of leaving this place, and while it hurts I choose to be kind, smile and show love. Your worst enemy can become your brother and sister instantly.
  5. Service to others – You don’t have to be part of an organization or join a soup kitchen to show service to others. Service is given from the moment you wake up. The way you interact with people, the thoughts you have about them and inevitably how you treat others is service. Everyone in our life will perish, and by giving them the best in us we both find ourselves in unity for one kind act begets another – even if briefly.

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Our time here is short. Let this be a beckoning call to yourself during moments of strife.

I sincerely hope that whatever you do, you do with Joy. Practice gratitude, know that your life was a stroke of luck, contemplate death and let service to others be the epitome of character.

Written with Love,

Anand Swamy
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Unlearning to the Path of Joy

  • We may travel to far places
  • We may acquire opulence through the material
  • We may have many lovers, friendships and a great social life
  • We may find love in another being to pass our time with
  • We may have beautiful children that we care for deeply
  • We may carry deep and strong belief structures about creation, the government and mankind
  • We may have dreams, aspirations and passions

Continue reading “Unlearning to the Path of Joy”