How much are you working?
August 28, 2009 § Leave a comment
I seem to be running into this attitude lately that if you have time to spend with your family, or to work on another business, or to write a blog, or to just relax and enjoy your life, then clearly you should be doing more work. Now, I actually like to work. Recently I even posted about how I have increased my workload to take advantage of my natural tendency to procrastinate.
Obviously, working is important. Your job will often naturally take priority in your life. If you don’t work, or don’t put the effort into your job, you’ll lose it. Then you’ll run out of money, and you’ll lose your house, and your family will leave you for someone who will actually take care of them, and you’ll be eating out of dumpsters and wearing the same shirt every day.
Why are we working, though? I work for a lot of reasons. I work to provide for my family. I work to buy crap that I don’t need. I work to go places that I don’t really need to go. I work because I enjoy what I do. I work to apply my creativity and ability, to create new things, to make software that makes life easier for people.
There’s a balance that you need to find, though. Slow down – take some time for yourself. Stop working all the time to cover up for the fact that the rest of your life is empty. You don’t need to work all the time. You don’t need to check your work email the minute you get home to make sure you didn’t miss something. It’s ok to take your crackberry off your hip and just set it down.
…I want to think a little bit about Balance in life. Many of us say that is what we seek: balance.
For most of us that means finding some amount of family time or personal time or fun time to act as a counterweight to the part of our life that counts as obligation.
For some it means finding time for social service as a counterweight to self service. And so many people who spend most of the week working hard to make a living then want to spend at least part of their time giving back in some way, whether that is coaching a Little League or soccer team, serving as a scout leader or a mentor, joining an organization like Kiwanis or the Lions, or engaging in some other service activity, like working for this congregation.
That balance feels good. That counterweight lends something special to the lives of those who take such action.
But while that brings balance into life, I want to suggest that it does not necessarily bring harmony into life, and it is really harmony that is the better ideal.
I want to say that I believe that balance in life is a wonderful, even necessary prerequisite for harmony in life. At least, that is true for most of us. But the Buddhist message is that harmony is not necessarily tied to balance, because true harmony–genuine, real harmony—is not about time and is not about externals. It is about what takes place within us no matter how balanced or unbalanced either our lives are or the world around us is.
I have not yet reached a stage of enlightenment wherein I can maintain harmony without balance. For me (and I suspect, many of you), balance is certainly a prerequisite to achieving harmony.
So, we only have so many hours in a day, and we can procrastinate some things away, but at the end of the day, if you have too much work to do to find balance, what are you going to do? Do you continue on the path you’re on – throwing more and more of yourself into your work, keeping yourself busy enough that you don’t have to think about what you’re giving up and what your life is missing? Or do you slow down, reflect upon your life, and evaluate what is truly important to you?