I have a friend who works at a major technology firm, heading up a team of professionals. A problem has developed–a lack of drive and innovation. Speaking to her about the situation, one thing that arose was the fact that when she talked to the people on her team, their motivation for coming to work was: “to get a paycheck.” And to a disturbing degree…so was hers.
And she didn’t say that with enthusiasm, either: “hey! I get to take care of my family! I get to sleep under a roof instead of in my car! Yippee!!”
Nope. It was “to pay my lousy bills.”
That’s worm stuff. Low-level animal speak. ALL animals will move away from pain and toward pleasure. Every activity will have both aspects. But much of the quality of your life is determined by which dominates. I suspect that children are naturally attracted to certain activities (play), and go to school largely to avoid punishment. Their task (and the education system) is to find ways to make the necessary fascinating. The faster you learn this, the faster and sooner you learn to LOVE learning.
If you were homeless, you’d be DELIGHTED to get a job. Happy. But then eventually it would just get to be 24 hours…and drudgery.
The trick to finding joy is to use the Ancient Child approach: tie EVERYTHING that you do into either your childhood dreams (“wow! I’m working in a tech firm creating the future!”) or your ultimate values (“my family is the most important thing. The impeccable quality of my actions is the most important thing. I live to bring joy to the world.”) Do EITHER of these, and your actions have meaning.
The “Core Transformation” technique is a demonstration that everything we do is an attempt to connect with the divine, or re-enter the place of peace we experienced in the womb. If your meditations early in the morning are a process of re-connecting with that sense, you START the day with the joy most people think they can only have if they “accomplish” or get some specific reaction from the people around them.
And you know what? If you live every day with joy, you have a bullet-proof heart. You don’t NEED other people to like you, so if they react badly, you don’t take it personally, and can see through their anger to the underlying fear, and ask better questions.
If you already have joy, you have access to your child-like curiosity and enthusiasm and problem solving.
If you have a commitment to your deepest values, you have access to your wisdom, your sensitivity to cycles and an immunity to cultural illusions.
My friend is a leader. To help her employees, SHE needs to be a living avatar of connection to both “child” and “elder” selves.
So I led her through a hybrid “Ancient Child”/”Core Transformation” exercise, through a series of “what is your intent?” questions, and every answer became a door to go deeper.
“Why do you go to work every day?”
To earn money.
“And if you had all the money you needed, what then?”
Then I’d be able to spend my time doing what I wanted to do.
“And if you had the time you needed to do what you wanted, what then?”
I’d be doing things that interested me.
“And if you spent your time doing the things that interested you, what then?”
I’d be able to focus on solving problems and helping people travel more safely.
And if the problems were solved, and people traveled more safely, what then?
(Pause. Sigh. Deep breath). Then bad things wouldn’t happen to nice people.
BANG. A little careful prodding reveals a family tragedy, a car accident that a little girl suffered through that led to an injury. Never forgotten. Triggering a question: “why do these things happen” and a vow “I can make it better.”
Ah. Love of family leads to fear of accident leads to commitment to protect other families leads to a deep education and a tech job where some of these issues can be addressed.
The trivial daily actions are connected to a core life concern. The instant this connection was made, everything about her breathing, facial tension, body language, intonations SHIFTED. And when I went deeper, this accelerated. When I got all the way down to that place of wordless peace, all I had to do was build back up through the levels until that core (child) sense that “something is wrong with the world” is tied to the ultimate (elder) sense that “I will spend my life energy in this world making this right.”
From that perspective, everything is a means to an end. Every action, and thought. The people around you become allies in a struggle. And when you learn to do this for yourself, you know how to help others.
Now…imagine using this with EVERYTHING major in your life. To start, try these four arenas for writers.
- Mind. Can you connect your writing to your deepest and highest values?
- Body. Can you connect your diet and exercise to your deepest and highest values?
- Spirit. Can you connect every minute you spend with your family to your deepest and highest values?
- Finances. Can you connect your day job to your deepest and highest values? Balancing your checkbook?
If you can do this with these four arenas, you can do it with ANYTHING. And have taken a step beyond “motivation.” You are touching “isness.” You do this because it is who you are. You are joyful because you feel yourself in synch with the universe, and that is your highest value.
Frankly, most people do NOT have both emotional and spiritual connection with all four arenas. But those who do…are blessed.
Give yourself that blessing. You deserve it.