My Italian housemate tells me that in Italy, where his father lives, people do not “live to work”, but rather, they “work to live”. How about you; do you live to work or work to live? This week we will explore what Better Endings might mean in relation to work and career topics. Is Better Endings about better pay? Or is it about greater personal fulfillment from the job or career itself? How can you maximize Better Endings in relation to your work or career?
The Maori of New Zealand were at one point considered by psychologists and by psychological anthropologists to have the lowest incidence of mental disorder of any cultural group in the world. When psychologists studied what they were doing to promote such a state of wellness, they found a number of factors relevant to how people experienced their daily lives in relation to stress factors. First, the Maoris tended to tell their dreams to their family members, and if a parent recognized a stress factor being expressed in the dream content, the parent might suggest a way to relieve that stress or conflict. An example I have read about is that a boy said he dreamed a neighbor boy had stolen a toy. The parent asked the dreamer then to go give that toy to the other boy as a gift.
A second factor of Maori wellness was attributed to a practice referred to in the literature as “Time Out”. If an adult were feeling overburdened by stress in relation to their family or daily work load, they could announce at a community meeting that they needed Time Out. They would be allowed to stay in a hut slightly away from the village for as long as needed, while others took care of their children and responsibilities. Then when the person felt ‘mellowed out,’ as we might say, they could simply rejoin the community and resume their lives. Others might tend to treat them with less demands after this because of the need for Time Out which they had publicly displayed.
How different our Western, daily workaday lives tend to be! How much can we “crunch out” in a day’s travail seems to be the measure, if not of our happiness, then at least of others’ esteem for our industriousness. Vacation time will not release us from those stressors that may build up even higher while we have our “precious” time away. Indeed, with today’s smart phones and laptop technology, it is becoming harder to truly separate from one’s work even while on vacation.
So, this week, let’s contemplate the value of “work” in relation to career and also in relation to personal fulfillment and vocations (hobbies, arts or other stress-relieving pastimes), not just jobs. Perhaps in the process of reviewing and reflecting upon how we/you DO work and career related activities, you can gain some insights about ways you might wish to make adjustments for the future based on your core values, your life priorities and sense of purpose.
As always, I welcome and invite all of your insights you might wish to share via Comments and stories.