Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Finding Work Satisfaction

Recently I saw some research on TV about job satisfaction, and I was surprised at this revelation, although I shouldn't have been surprised given how our world has changed. I don't remember the exact figures, but according to this report a large number of people are greatly dissatisfied, many somewhat dissatisfied, and many are no longer even mentally or emotionally involved while on the job.

Since I worked in the mental health field for many years, I look at the psychological reasons for this much dissatisfaction where we spend most of our daily life. It's not only a response to what goes on outside of ourself, but it's something else that's going on inside too. We humans have basic needs that must come from both our outer world and our own inner sense of well being. And many of these needs are not being met in our work life today.

In our outer world we need validation and appreciation for the work we do. This means earning a fair wage and receiving fair treatment in a safe and congenial workplace where we can enjoy doing what we're doing. Utopia? Not really. I remember when most work places were like this.

I raised 3 children doing waitress work, and while it was hard work and I sometimes dealt with rude customers, employees were not taken for granted like cattle to be prodded into submission. We were valued and appreciated, and this was reflected in the work environment. Most of the people I knew worked in these situations. Not so in many places today. We live in a different world.

There's also something inside of us that needs to be fulfilled, that innate need to create and find satisfaction in our creation. How wonderful if you find this in your job, but if not, it can be found in something you just enjoy doing. Either way, we are creators, and we must create.

If you have a job you don't enjoy, or you even feel miserable in it and can't find a better environment, focusing on that inner creative satisfaction can compensate for the negatives at work, reduce daily stress, and make a big difference in your life. So continue doing the best you can in your job, and create something in your life that says your life matters. I know people  who have a full time job, but they refer to something they're doing on their own as their work. This could mean volunteering, gardening, cooking, writing, music, sharing knowledge in a particular subject like nutrition or jogging. Anything you enjoy. All of this takes some creativity.

You can create a sense of joy in yourself and sometimes in others with the personal work you do, and the job you go to everyday won't be such a chore.

I wish you fulfilling creations.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Keep Cool With Your Mental Stress Manual

I've heard that problems come in threes, and I recently had my three. First I was all ready to copy an important paper, but my printer was out of ink. Okay. Get more ink. But I forgot how to insert a new ink cartridge. So I got out the manual, studied, and did it right.

Then for a long time my land phone had been giving me less and less time to talk before it beeped and went dead. Finally, it just died. I know nothing about mechanical stuff, so I read the manual. Phones need new batteries. Duh! Didn't know that. So I got a new battery and solved the problem.

Then my A/C was acting up. Now that was really out of my league. I didn't want to call a repair person, so I asked around for help. Finally called a repair person, and got the problem solved.

By now I was sick of problems and the stress that goes with solving them. I knew what to do with stress, how to manage it, or even eliminate it, but that's hard to do when you're in the midst of a crisis. Yes, I know those were not big crises, but don't they seem like giants when you're confronted with them? I envy those people who can stay cool even when vultures are descending to eat their young. We could take a lesson from them. The people, not the vultures.

So now I'm retrieving my Mental Stress Manual to remind me what to do with stress the next time it shows up. I've been through some biggies in my life. Handled some well, some not so well, and it pays to be prepared.

So here's what my Mental Stress Manual says to handle stress in any situation. You have to catch the stress before it gets full blown, because full blown is too late. Just before you feel the stress, you'll feel a very subtle knot in the pit of your belly. On the inside, that can come from something you're thinking about. On the outside it can come from another person and/or situation. And it depends upon how you're responding. But when you feel that knot, get busy with your obliteration technique. And of course you already know that a few deep breaths should always preclude the action.

1. Identify the beginning of stress (the knot) and talk to it. "Hello. I know you well, and I want you to know that I'm not at all afraid of you. I decree that no matter what you do, you have no power over me. You're no more than a fly on a horse's rump. And I'm the horse. I have the power to handle any situation in a calm, peaceful way, which I intend to do. So you might as well leave now."
2. Whether the situation is internal or external, picture an image of something that represents peace to you. ie A dove, a white aura, an angel, balloons floating in the air, a beautiful sunrise, whatever has meaning for you. And associate with that peaceful feeling as the stress loses its power, or better yet, doesn't even materialize.
3. Express gratitude. No matter what the result, express gratitude.

The more you do this, the more effective it becomes. And if you forget, like I did, retrieve your Mental Stress Manual and start over. Life has lots of starting-over times, but we're stronger with each one.

I wish you peaceful encounters in your life.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Your Light From Within

For the past couple of weeks I've talked about the need for a sense of validation and belonging in the world. Knowing that your life matters. Looking for this outside of yourself is an important part of your connection with others, but the real strength and power of who you are must come from within. And that's the hard part.

I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being. Hafiz

To some degree we all experience inner negative messages about ourselves, and sometimes our self-image reveals more of our weaknesses than our strength. So we go through life short-changing ourselves. I can't, I mess everything up, I'm homely, I'm not worth much, etc. I had a friend who rarely admitted anything admirable about herself, but this impression was not true. So I sat down and gave her my impression. As I rattled off a dozen wonderful qualities I saw in her and times she had expressed these qualities, tears filled her eyes. She hadn't seen her true self. I convinced her to observe herself and look for those times when she expressed her strong points. She amazed herself with each discovery, and her wonderful self became real to her. Over time, she learned to let her light shine in her own eyes.

There's something innate in us that longs to express on our journey through life, but how can we shine if we're not aware of what we're working with in the first place? When I was a child, I watched my brother put together model airplanes. First he opened the box, then laid out each piece on the table and carefully identified each one. Some were ready to use as is, while others needed rough edges smoothed out. He was grateful for those ready to use pieces, and happily spent time on those that needed some work. No piece was more important than another. He needed all of them to create a plane that would fly.

By being yourself, you put something wonderful in the world that was not there before. Edwin Elliot

If we're to fly, we need to search inside the box, see all the pieces, and work with them without judgment. Take the time to open the box and look inside with love. Identify and accept those beautiful parts of yourself (they are there), and be willing to spend time with those parts that need some work. Now be grateful for all of it. It's you. It's your light. Shine as you're meant to shine. The world needs your special light.

I wish you a happy adventure.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Need to Belong

The human spirit has many needs, and one is the need to belong. Somewhere inside we know we're not meant to be alone. And we do belong in the little boxes we create for our life with connections that make our life more meaningful. But we're also part of the larger whole, that sea of humanity in which each of us has a vital place. Sounds lofty and grand. But when we expand our presence outside of our box in a larger way, we realize a greater dimension of who we are and why we're here. Recently, this was illustrated for me when my writers group had our end of the year celebration. We take the summers off.

We're 12 writers in 2 groups led by Carol, our talented, knowledgeable, loving leader. And once each year we come together to celebrate our writing and each other. We met at a restaurant with about 40 guests who came to listen, support, and have fun with us. We each read something we wrote during the year, and what a diverse array of wonderful stories and skits. I read part of a chapter from the book I'm writing now, Me and Granmama in the Hill Country in southern dialect. We laughed, cried, clapped, whooped, hollered and roared for each other. Each of us had our time on stage, and guests saw their loved ones in wonderful rare moments. Each person was an individual wrapped in the arms of this larger group, contributing to the whole and totally belonging. I didn't know some of the guests who were there, but I reached out to every person, and I felt wonderful energy coming from all of them. I was seen in a different way, and I felt I belonged. I'm sure blessings were exchanged for everyone. This is what can happen when you reach out and belong to a caring group with shared interests.

 Everyone has a gift, a talent, or an interest to share with others, but oftentimes, we're not aware of anything special about ourself or we devalue what we have. What are you interested in? What brings you joy? Music, art, cooking, sports, caregiving, current events, teaching, exploring, camping, volunteering? The list is endless, and your gift is waiting to be shared.

You're more than what you see in the mirror everyday. You're a glorious person who can find joy in reaching out with others, in growing and discovering more of your true self. Too busy? My writers group meets twice each month, and I'm the only one without a full time job and family at home. And I have to say that each of us, through our group experience, has discovered much within ourselves we didn't know was there. What have you yet to discover within yourself? Join a group and find out.

I wish you a wonderful adventure.