So back to work …what joy!

After those weeks or days of relaxing, walking, sailing or whatever is our thing, probably with sun, sea, mountains, good food, good friends, we are once again in our place of work.

Last Sunday evening the roads leading from Cantabria were clogged with holiday-makers returning home as late as possible, desperately trying to make the most of the last few hours of beach or mountain. Many will arrive at work with sand between their toes (and in other places). For the first day or two, work can feel disorienting.

A few years ago a business asked me if I could deliver a course to help their workers with post-vacation depression syndrome. I was impressed to find that yet another condition has been made available to us thereby increasing our opportunities for suffering. So what to do?

Perception is everything.

As I have written before, we usually live in autopilot mode within a bubble called the “Me-centred universe”.  Everything is about “me”: my story, my life, my suffering, my needs, my problems, my future. Evolution has made this our default setting.

Living like this means that, instead of being connected fully with our lives, we experience only our thoughts about the same. The “Me-Centred Universe” is the survival/ego perception of life: To survive and procreate.

In this state everything is divided into “good” (which provokes a grasping attitude), “bad” (which provokes aversion attitude); if it falls outside of these two categories then our attitude is indifference – we usually don’t even notice.

Transposing this into our holiday/work life:

Holidays feel good – want more, “if only I could be always on holiday” (grasping).  Work feels bad – don’t want it, “I hate work, it’s not fair” (aversion).

How depressing to be back at work! Complaining is pointless; it makes us into victims. We don’t change anything; we just feel like shit, but by blaming everything and everyone for our lives we get the illusory satisfaction of being right.

My happiness, my wellbeing is my responsibility.

You might be thinking, “well, that’s easy for you to say; you don’t work where I do. My boss is a total arse and my company is crap.”

You have three options:

  • Complain: make making yourself and others unhappy.
  • Be proactive: OK, so your boss is a dick – in your opinion, an utter arse; it is unlikely that he or she will change any time soon. So make it a project to learn to better manage your relationship; think of it as a scientific experiment. Figure out solutions. There is so much help available on-line.
  • Change jobs: If you really cannot stand where you work, try to be honest with yourself: how much of your problem is your work and how much is your attitude? If you decide to change jobs you can at least practice being a hero whilst planning your way out.

How about being a hero instead of victim?

By practicing some:

Gratitude: What wonderful things do you have in your life? The first is simply the mind-boggling miracle of being alive, of being here, of existing. I feel thankful for my life everyday as much as possible: my health, drinking water, friends, partner, children, to have a job, live in such a wonderful country as Spain. Once you start feeling gratitude, it’s difficult to stop. This is not “positive thinking”; it is “precision thinking”, correcting our tendency to see the bad and seeing what we really have in our lives.

Kindness:  Instead of worrying about “poor me having to work”, how about trying to cheer up others; think about someone else’s happiness. After all, you are not the only one suffering. Make an act of kindness to someone: a friend, a neighbour, a work-colleague, a stranger but do not expect anything in return.

Nothing is permanent: Feelings, moods, situations, all are impermanent and all too will pass. How you feel at this moment (good or bad) is temporary. Be in the present moment. Focus on what you have in front of you.

Get some proportion: One only has to read or watch the news to appreciate how fortunate we are. We are not in danger of our lives. We have enough (often too much) to eat. We have shelter. This is not the case for much of the world. Whilst we are worried about being happy, many are worried about survival.

The absolute best thing you can do is take responsibility for your feelings, your wellbeing.  Your happiness will always be more important to you than to anyone else.

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