How to make work actually work for you?

I mean, how do you stay happy and satisfied at work? When faced with  insurmountable difficulties due to a strained professional relationship or too much work to do, it may seem that the only solution is to quit.  You can hardly change your boss, your not-so-nice colleague seems to be there to stay and the eight hours or so you invest at work seem more like a  squirrel’s endless (and desperate) running inside a rotating wheel that lacks an exit.

Is quitting the real answer then? What if your next job feels the same  or even worse? It certainly helps to do all the inquiries needed to  find out whether your would-be colleagues from the new job are nice,  the future boss is a good one and working hours are reasonable, but will this stay like this in the long term? Probably not. People tend to  change: they can be replaced by new ones or they can undergo personal and professional challenges themselves making them less friendly, at least temporarily. Also, even if the nice people stay on, you can be asked to do new things and thus interact with other people you do not know.

Most of us have busy lives. We often know what to do, but rarely find time to do it. We clash with others and then brood over this. Our efforts often fall short of intended results. We expect something to happen by a certain time and in a certain way and then feel frustrated when our intentions fail to materialize. We often believe that others are to be blamed for our misfortunes. It is not surprising then that the idea of looking within in order to re-shape an outward situation is completely foreign to us.

So what to do? The obvious answer is to forget about the others and focus on improving yourself. After all, of all the variables involved, it is the only one you have full control over. Or do you?

It is true that changing your attitude to events is definitely the right thing to do. Becoming emotionally stronger, maintaining a cheerful and friendly attitude towards others, being firm in your views without putting in danger professional relationships are all very helpful and will go a long way to building this sense of satisfaction with yourself and the world that we all long for.

Not least important is the ability to set an aspirational goal amidst a seemingly mundane activity. It will serve as a beacon during the tough times, both for you and those you work with. It will make things seem better to you than they appear to others. This is not self-deception. Your high values, lofty goals and upbeat attitude will get noticed. People will trust you. They will follow you. Once a critical mass of positivism is reached, the dead end will become a highway of infinite
possibilities.

Once we realize that at least some of the answers we seek may be with ourselves, the key question then becomes: how do you change yourself? A mind that is full of worries and uncertainties, one that easily forgets the good things but retains the bad things, one that is constantly assailed by unwanted thoughts and inadequate emotional responses is simply out of control. To tame such a mind a specific game plan is required. Here are a few things you can do that may help:

1. Take your time. Altering your attitudes, beliefs and ideas is a worthy goal, but it requires work and it takes time. In fact, the slower you go, the more likely you are to reach your destination without breaking anything on the way. If you force things on yourself, your self-imposed resolve to change yourself may not take you very far.

2. Find time to relax. Going for a walk in nature, doing some hatha yoga postures or other physical exercises will be of great help. Trying to change yourself when you’re tensed just won’t work.

3. Learn to concentrate. Changing yourself requires the application of focused energy. To accomplish something, sufficient energy has to be directed towards the task at hand on a continuous basis and in a concentrated form. The sun’s rays are experienced as warmth in a dissipated form and are experienced as fire in a concentrated form (recall the experiments with the magnifying glass in school). Try to develop a firelike concentration that will burn all the obstacles on
your way towards your goal. Exercising concentration with your eyes relaxed on an object of your choice (a flower; a candle flame; a small, black dot on a white wall; or your own breathing), for a few minutes at first and gradually increasing practice time to 20-30 minutes in one uninterrupted session over time, will do the trick.

4. Practise self-awareness and introspection. Meditation is an invaluable tool for this. While practising self-awareness, do not chastise yourself for your shortcomings as you become more aware of them. Just observe the thoughts and images as they come to the surface from within your mind’s depths and let them go. Do not criticize others for their flaws either. We are all travelers towards the same destination seeking happiness and fulfillment. Let’s accept ourselves and others the way we all are: imperfect, but willing to go beyond our limitations. Let’s start by changing ourselves first. Our achievements will be contagious. Others will follow suit. Also, it is worthwhile to spend a few minutes in the morning and/or in the evening to review a day’s experiences and focus on those to come without passing any judgment over them.

5. Visualize the end result (e.g., a harmonious work environment, an understanding boss, successful and timely completion of a project). Practise this as often as you can, at least daily if time permits, over a reasonably extended period of time. Charge the image of the end result with more and more mental and psychic energy. Over time your consciousness will be so impregnated with the new pattern of success and harmony that you have modeled for yourself that it will radiate and
attract more harmony and more success. We need to remind ourselves more often that in a sense we are the makers of our own destiny.

6. Set clear intermediate goals. They must be reasonably practical, progressively challenging, yet achievable. They must act as stepping stones towards your desired result. Hold yourself accountable for what you have accomplished or still need to accomplish. Keep a diary to track your progress and adjust your plans as you move forward.

7. Associate yourself with the right people. Such people are those who have progressed farther along the path that you have chartered for yourself. They will help you move faster yet safer, avoid any possible pitfalls and make the journey more enjoyable.

For more articles on integrating meditation into the present-day lifestyle and for more information on starting a meditation practice of your own, visit www.GenevaMeditation.ch.

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