Finding happiness through our work requires two basic things. First, we have to recognize our own patterns, such as trying ever harder to be appreciated or doing whatever it takes to get approval. These patterns block any chance of experiencing genuine happiness. And second, once we recognize those patterns, we have to undertake the basic, blue-collar work of practice — the mundane everyday efforts of bringing awareness to the underlying fears that dictate how we feel and act. There is nothing romantic or magical about our blue-collar efforts; they are bound to take time and perseverance, and we may become frustrated at times along the way. But we can remind ourselves regularly that awareness is what ultimately heals.
In addition to staying present with our experience, we can also turn our whole approach toward our work right-side up. We do this by turning away from our normal orientation of ‘What’s in it for me?’ and instead ask the question ‘What do I have to offer?’ When we learn to give from our own unique gifts, we can experience the deep fulfillment of living a life in which we prioritize giving over getting. We will also discover that giving from the generosity of the heart is one of the essential roots of true contentment.
Ezra Bayda, Beyond Happiness: The Zen Way to True Contentment