Work is life. It consumes so much time from our limited supply of days. In just a few short decades, the time and energy we spent working adds up to be life itself.
Livelihood is a natural expression of our working life. A source of income. Using our talents and capacities. Doing what we do best.
“I’m looking for something more than money out of my work; I expect deep fulfillment and a little fun too,” said an executive of a major American corporation.
Right livelihood – whether via a job, profession, business, or any talent – is as important as mental health and wholeness. Just as the right foods are for our physical bodies.
Buddha described “right livelihood” as work “consciously chosen, done with full awareness and care, and leading to enlightenment.”
Surely, I’d not recommend orange robes and vows of poverty for us like Buddha. But I can see the practical psychology of his point.
You (and all of us) need to choose the right livelihood. Your right work. For the only one life you have.
But most people today are “aliens.” They’re alienated from both their natural talents and potentials. Their proper place and function. Their purpose for life.
Most people merely work for the money. Eight-to-five penance for daily bread! As a result, many get bored, frustrated, constrained or dulled in their days. Some get serious mentally illness.
I met a young woman who drifted into a boring, but high-paying accounting job. After much inner struggle, she left her secure niche to study psychology.
She’s getting straight A’s in her studies. But having a hard time paying bills. A life state she didn’t experience before.
Yet she was sure that she had found the right road for her life. Her right career. Her right livelihood. That allowed her to excel and gave her the power to be resourceful.
Nothing stopped her from becoming a psychologist. So after years of hardship, she completed her graduate studies. She used her former contacts to start practice.
Now a successful, highly paid psychotherapist, she said, “My choice and hardships were so challenging. But I feel at home in this work. For the first time in my life, I’m experiencing joy and fulfillment.”