money over meaning
I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.
- Roald Dahl
In my role as a coach I support my clients to create lives that they love. I want them to feel and experience what it means to live fully - that is, to embrace life in both hands with enthusiasm, curiosity, and passion. But why does the fire within dwindle in the first place? How do we sometimes end up feeling as though we are stuck in a rut? What are the causes that have us sail so far of course in life? And most important of all, how can we rekindle that 'white hot passion' for life, for our work, in our relationships?
you are not alone
There are certain obstacles (antarayas) that commonly arise in our lives. They often arise for a reason and they can either 'make you or break you' depending on your mindset (it is important to note that you absolutely can change your mindset even if you initially took the course to defeat!). The process of overcoming these obstacles aids our personal growth, often resulting in clarity and greater connection to ourselves, to others, and to our work. It is the latter that I wish to focus on in this article.
Alasya is one of nine obstacles in yoga philosophy. It translates as a lack of enthusiasm for life, for relationships, for our community, for our future, and/or for our work. This lack of enthusiasm can manifest as feelings of indifference and disinterest, having little or no energy, lacking initiative and drive, and/or being lazy and unproductive.
DISCONNECTION FROM MEANINGFUL WORK
In 2012, Gallup conducted an extensive study that interviewed millions of people living in 150 countries around the world. Their findings revealed that almost 90% of participants were said to feel unenthusiastic (that is to say disconnected, indifferent, apathetic, uninvolved, passive, and half-hearted) about their work. The study also found that work now takes up almost 80% of our time, which means that the vast majority of people experience disconnection almost all of the time.
When we wake in the morning we want to look forward to our day. We want to enjoy our work. We long to feel that our actions make a difference. We want to feel noticed and valued by our employers, colleagues, and the wider community. We want to be able to grow and change for the better. But, according to the study, only 13% of the millions interviewed felt engaged, inspired, and enthusiastic by their work. This got me thinking about why are so many of us disconnected from meaningful work?
Paradigm for success
We have been conditioned to prioritise money over meaning when it comes to our work. There’s a tendency to judge whether someone is successful (including ourselves) based upon how much they earn rather than whether they are living from a place of resonance and connection with their work. Are you happy? Do you have autonomy over the work that you do and the manner in which you do it? Do you feel like you are positively contributing in a meaningful way? Do you feel as though you have the opportunity to grow as an individual in your career?
Many believe that work is something that we have to do whether we like it or not. This mindset results in people settling for okay jobs with okay salaries which ultimately leads to living okay lives. For some this is absolutely okay - for many it feels dull, stagnant, and disconnected. Do you go to work because you want to? What excites you about your work?
The workday in many cultures now consists of sitting behind a desk for 10+ hours a day. Being stationary all day lowers our energy levels, which in turn hinders our ability to feel enthusiastic about anything. Instead we feel lethargic and fatigued. How often do you move during the course of your day? What are your energy levels like after a full day at work?
SO, HOW CAN WE OVERCOME ALASYA?
Cultivating motivation and passion is a two-step process that will ultimately have us connecting with our dharma - our purpose.
Understanding a situation and being aware of our reaction to it is fundamental to bringing about meaningful change. What are you enthusiastic about? What stops you from pursuing this interest? What makes you think that you could not create an income doing what you love? First, you must be curious. Reflect upon the answers that come up for you. If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin then sitting in meditation can be a very effective way of creating space between you and the obstacle. Alternatively, get outdoors and go for a walk - you would be surprised what can come up when are minds are free to wander in the great outdoors.
Next, we must take action. Talk about your interests and passions, read books, and listen to podcasts by people who have experienced suffering and who have overcome it. What solutions did they create? The purpose of this stage is to actively explore the ways in which you could be of service to others whilst pursuing your passion. For example, if you love hiking then why not guide private or group hikes in your local area. You don't need to give up your main job or exit your career - a passion project can be a side-gig.
TRUST IN YOURSELF
I hope that this article doesn’t resonate with you and that you already love what you do and feel connected to your dharma, but if it does and you find yourself asking: ‘Why am I doing this? Where’s the joy in what I do? What’s the point?’ then look to the lessons and opportunities that this obstacle can provide you. Trust in yourself and your ability to know what needs to be done.
Does this resonate with you? I would love to hear your stories of resonance. Drop me an email or comment below.