Home Design I spent so many years “just doing a job” because I did not value all of me. Now that I’m aware of this

I spent so many years “just doing a job” because I did not value all of me. Now that I’m aware of this

by admin

Happy Work

Identifying what makes you happy in life is not always as easy as it sounds, and a person’s work life has more of an effect on happiness than many of us realize.

I’ve been on this mission to discover a “formula” for happiness. Of course I mean in my personal life, but I’m talking about the role my work life plays in my big picture. The terms “Work Happy” and “Happy Work” have been in my subconscious looming around like an idea that seemed too simple and obvious to give much attention to – since at least my early twenties. Maybe the notion of happiness is especially important to me because I witnessed both my parents and my sister suffer from debilitating depression. My father, bless his soul, was able to hold our material lives together. So we always had a nice home and, being that we were US expatriates in Indonesia, with our dollars giving us a financial leg up, a staff of servants to keep the home life in order. Sounds nice, (which it was) so why be depressed?

I believe that my parents’ depression was caused by the pressures of society they grew up in. They were taught a lot about structure and upper-middle class civility, but they did not learn to put their happiness first. Please don’t confuse this with learning the virtues of hard work and sacrifice, nor that of the sometimes required “tough love” in raising kids. Those things can not be avoided in any life. I’m talking about healthy and balanced happiness. One that does not prioritize material possessions over the virtues of a noble human character. It’s so easy to get those two mixed up, for all of us. And many who are mixed up there will have issues with money.

In their parenting style, my parents were reflecting so many of the ideas and stressors that stemmed from fear. Fear of loss and fear of lack. Afterall, their parents had been through the Great Depression. The problem with constantly thinking about/worrying about money though, is that it separates you from the human part of living. Others might view you as “snobby” because you’re not really there with them. Part of you is still thinking about your money; if you have more than them, if they have more than you, if there is going to be enough for what you need tomorrow. My parents didn’t want to be snobs, they don’t think of themselves that way, but how others see us is not always how we see ourselves. Unfortunately, when you are too focused on material acquisition, communing with other humans becomes colored with concerns about social status and unhealthy competition. Of course everyone has to think about money and social status, and competition, to a point, but when the balance is off, it inevitably creates unhappiness and division.

Balance is key

My visual for balance is the Yin Yang symbol…where the material is the darker side and the spiritual the lighter side of the balanced equation. If the balance is off, we will be dis-eased. Addiction being one of the common forms of disease. And there are so many different types of addiction. Addiction to substances, to sex, to drama, to junk food, to porn, to unhelpful people, and self-sabotaging personal attitudes.

My parents’ solution to all the expectations of society was to be sure my sister and I knew what they were early on, so that we could be better prepared for success. They praised us when we followed their idea of the system, and frowned on us when we didn’t, just as their parents had done with them. This made it difficult for me to figure out who I was, because parts of my true nature didn’t fit into their system. I spent a lot of time feeling I didn’t fit in, and not enough time figuring out what I really want to be doing in life. 

Though I found a field to specialize in and gained professional experience and knowledge, I have come to understand that working with my true talents and interests feels like authentic expression, which I think of as a form of happiness. However, just “doing a job” is not. 

I spent so many years “just doing a job” because I did not value all of me. Now that I’m aware of this, my work is cut out for me and I know what to watch out for.

Happiness is important

My childhood and early adulthood was, as many others were, riddled with anger, loss, longing, and feelings of being alone in this world. So happiness is important to me. By happy I mean at ease with my life and self, and receptive enough so that when there is joy and inspiration to be had, I don’t spoil it with unhelpful attitudes.

My parents divorced when I was four, and around that time I lost my mother to mental illness. She was not born with mental illness, she was driven to it by circumstances and her own losses. She moved back to her home in Oslo, Norway, and I was able to visit her yearly for a few weeks at a time. However, each of those visits presented their own challenges for me as she always had some sort of active addiction happening. She was in so much pain that it was hard for her to get her priorities in order, and only now in her old age is she finally sober and stable enough to acknowledge this.

Though I didn’t have my mother at home, I feel very fortunate to have been raised in a close-knit community. I had over twenty childhood friends from birth who I played with almost every day. They all had mom’s I could “borrow” now and then. We were of one spirit, and when we experienced joy, adventure and humor together, (the stuff of childhood) we felt it completely and soulfully. The reality of the beauty that exists and that is available to us as human beings was so clear to us even as children living in imperfect homes, in an imperfect society. We were not a religious community, though there were families that practiced various religions. Yet the reality of God’s Grace/the Great Spirit was also clear. So I understood the role faith plays in a person’s life early on. Faith that a better day is on the horizon; faith that our needs will be met in life; faith that there is a loving and protecting Great Spirit we can choose to align with anytime. And knowledge that we reap what we sow.

From very early on I knew that if anything was, this special friendship circle I am lucky to be a part of was one of my saving graces. If I hadn’t experienced that level of joy and love throughout my childhood, I believe it would be very hard to have had faith. I think my losses would have been much more traumatic.

Thus, I think living from a place of faith and always possessing the hope for happiness is essential to being a healthy human being. Just as much as having patience during hard times.

Awakening to the present through creative expression  

It is only from this place of faith within me that I am able to connect with the inner knowing of what professional and creative pursuits are right for me. And my ability to stay the path depends on how I communicate and express myself to those around me along the way. I “got” this when I learned about the fifth chakra.

From ancient to present times the “fifth chakra” is known to be responsible for the energy of communication and expression. When people say “my fifth chakra is blocked” it means there is pent up communication or feelings that need expressing. The fifth chakra is an area of the human body of energy that centers around the throat and voice.

I have always had a feeling that my fifth chakra had some blockage. My feelings and words were blocked because there wasn’t room in my life to deal with them. Occasionally I’d take to journaling and writing letters to people I felt I had to open communication with. I fell into a bad habit of drinking wine every night after a long day at my unsatisfying and stressful job. It seemed drinking helped me open up. I would get very emotional when I drank, and I channeled that emotion into writing letters.

However, as I continued down this path of writing while drinking, my letters became more and more off-kilter and sometimes caused more problems than they resolved. At first the wine helped me feel the passion to write down my feelings, which was satisfying. There were people I was angry with, people angry with me. There were also people I yearned to get closer to, and people I just loved, mostly in my family. My letters took on a life of their own and pretty soon I wasn’t sure if it was me writing them, or the alcohol. I was getting confused about what really was mine, and what wasn’t. I even wondered if the wine made me susceptible to being possessed!

It was clear, after about seven years of this, I needed a reset. I needed to find the motivation and courage to get in touch with my feelings without alcohol. 

So I subconsciously manifested a life-changing event that seemed almost unbearably painful at first, but that then led me to a path of healing and re-alignment. I took a break from corporate jobs and started working on wellness and artistic projects created through my LLC, Three Trees Wellness, such as my creative consulting project: www.robertmertensartofwellness.com.

You can read more about my wellness project at: https://www.alicialerrigo.com/post/my-three-trees-wellness-institute-journey

Now that I’ve spent some time really paying attention to how my feelings “work” with my work, my priorities have shifted, and my idea of happiness has shifted. I take great pleasure in self-reflection, writing, and processing on my own while taking long walks with my dogs, because I know that it will recharge my work. I am so grateful that my soul has finally integrated with my heart and mind on this one. Because from this place of gratitude I am better able to access my “inner knowing” and attract work that allows the real me into the picture. I still get side-tracked, I still have hard moments and hard days where I feel out of alignment. I’m still working on accepting ALL of myself. But I’m also having a lot of good days where I feel I am in the “flow”, working on the things that bring me joy, and learning the things I yearn to understand. 

I am no longer angry with the corporate world for stealing so much of my life and I’m living a new professional life, with a new set of rules. I’m choosing to balance projects I do for fun, with projects I do for a living so I am not ignoring those parts of me that need expression. I am now choosing Happy Work, work that contributes to the overall happiness of my life, rather than steal from it. I have autonomy in a creative sense, and I’m empowered to use my intuitive skills to serve others. For this reason I feel more alive and present with the work I am doing, which further inspires and improves my work.

I hope that everyone in the world gets the chance to live a happy life, and have a career that brings them satisfaction and joy. I hope we all find our “Happy Work”.

Thanks for reading! I’m always interested in your thoughts and feelings about topics I bring up. I hope to never offend anyone. Please feel free to reach out if you have something to say, or a question to ask me.

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Marin County, California, United States

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