Get More Done While Having Fun

BY Parvati

We commonly use the term “hard work”, as though “work” and “strenuous effort” are synonymous. Our common use of the word labour – to work hard, slave, grind away, toil, struggle, exert great effort – does not suggest much lightness of being. But does hard work need to be hard?
I have a committed work ethic, due in part to being the descendant of Canadian pioneers who helped found the country in which I reside. My parents, and those who went before them, were no strangers to the challenges of venturing into the unknown to build lives they loved.
Having seen first hand what hard work, dedication and focus can yield, I have not shied away from the tenacious dedication it takes to follow my own dreams and honour an unstoppable creative spark that seems to arise within me. As such, I do frequently work 14-hour days, every day of the week. In the eyes of many, I work hard. Yes, I work very long days with tremendous focus. But to me, I don’t necessarily work “hard”. I am dedicated to getting a lot done with a lightness of spirit, while ensuring I am having fun.
The word “fun” may immediately conjure images of leaving the workload behind for a day on the beach or a night out with friends. Those can definitely be fun! But I do not believe fun needs to be limited to the actions we take. Fun has more to do with how we perceive this moment. It comes from a lightness of being that sees possibilities before us.
Two different people run five kilometers. One, even if she is on a beautiful trail, is miserable, counting the minutes until she can stop. The other, even if she is on a treadmill, is having the time of her life, her heart pumping and arms swinging, delighting in the vitality of the moment. Fun does not depend on the external action.
A honey bee works her whole life to care for the hive and bring home nectar. Her entire life’s work amounts to only a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey! Yet bees are not plagued with a sense of inadequacy or futility. While worker bees never take vacation, they are never in a state of stress, anxiety or resentment. They do what they were born to do and do it fully. In so doing, they give nourishment to the world. Without the work of bees, most food crops we now enjoy would not come to fruition.
Being a musical artist, I hear from people often how lucky I am to have found my passion. They then tell me they are unhappy in their drudgery job because they have not yet found theirs. As I shared in a previous blog post on how to find your passion, I believe it is true that knowing your life calling does provide an effervescence of being. I am blessed to experience this. But feeling joy in your work is not inherently given to those who know their passion. Passion in a particular vocation can also lead to tremendous stress, tension, even illness and pain if not balanced with the notion of serving a greater whole and living beyond the whims of one’s ego. Knowing your life calling does not necessarily equate fun at work, unless you learn to embrace the moment.
In any work environment, there are those who work hard and those who slack off. There are also those who work hard while achieving less, even as others, who seem jovial and relaxed, smile their way through the day and accomplish more. As the Zen meditation master Thich Nhat Hanh teaches, even the slight curl at the sides of our lips can relax our whole body. As a practicing yogi and meditator, I know this to be true.
Greeting the morning with a quieting of my being through meditation allows a clarity and relaxed focus to anchor me through my day. Then, I can receive each task I meet as a welcome opportunity to evolve, rather than as a nuisance. Whether I like something or not, I can see it as life gracing me with teachings and growth.
This attitude towards even the mundane tasks that we meet each day is rooted in the ancient practice of yoga. As I explored in a previous blog post on Karma Yoga, when we meet tasks at hand with a sense of presence no matter how pleasant or unpleasant the moment may be, we become happier, more energized and relaxed while experiencing profound contentedness.
Happiness does not come from having all our wants fulfilled. Such happiness comes and goes like a sugar rush, with a euphoric peak that eventually comes crashing down. Lasting happiness arises from a sense of joy in understanding our inherent interconnection within the whole.
Nothing that we experience can ever be “happening to” us, because that would imply that we were a disconnected entity or victim of life. We are within the very fabric of life that sustains and supports us in each moment, through every breath. When we understand this, we naturally feel a connection with all that is. We feel an arising within us to serve the needs in the world around us, and an understanding of the greater picture.
I believe that no matter what actions we may choose to take, we can see work before us, no matter how seemingly hard, as an opportunity to rest in our true luminous nature. We are neither bound nor limited to the weight of being, unless we choose to see ourselves there. We do not need to wait for others to free us from the heaviness we may feel from any perceived drudgery. It is up to each one of us to shake off our own sorry stories, ignite our inner light and play our part in illuminating the world.
Love yourself.
Love others.
Love our world.
We are one Earth family.