Monday, April 23, 2012

Finding Balance

I recently read the following and it really connected with me. I thought I'd share.

Right Living in a Consumer Society by Roger Pritchard

We feel alienated from our work. We don't love what we do, we merely tolerate it. We work only to earn money, and we use that money to consume more than we really want. We feel a dissatisfaction with our lives, and yet we feel powerless to change.

Our modern economic system is based on the manufacture of goods, the extraction of natural resources without regard for the consquences, the progressive eliminiation of meaningful work, and the constant increase of consumption. Consumption is insatiable: we want more and more and the economy has to grow and grow to meet our needs--just like some cancer.

We are materially wealthy beyond our own wildest dreams. Yet we feel uneasy. Studies have shown that there is no correlation between happiness and wealth, fulfillment and material possessions. People in our society regularly report that to be happy they "need" about double their current income.

"Right livelihood" offers us a positive alternative, a middle path between growth for its own sake and stagnation. An increasing number of Americans are following this path. Many of us are looking for ways to break out of the current system. We want to reduce consumption, conserve natural resources, cut down on pollution, eat more simply and nutritiously, bring more spirituality into our lives, and develop more of a sense of community. More and more of us are convined that each generation should meet its needs without jeopardizing the life support system of future generations.

Those of us who start on path to right livelihood find that our lives are more balanced, simple, clear, and focused. We are no longer strung out in a meaningless cycle of material consumption.

The contemporary economy focuses on this cycle of consumption. It doesn't really support our efforts to find meaningful work. Today, work is a means to consume or to pay debt for consumption already indulged in. How many people do you know who really love the work they are doing? How many feel bored and alienated? How many are simply earning the money to spond it on material pleasures?

Right livelihood demands that you take responsibility for making your work more meaningful. Good work is degnified. It develops your faculties and serves your community. It is a central human activity. Work, in this view:

* makes you honey with yourself,
* requires that you develop your faculties and skills,
* empowers you to do what you are really good at and love to do,
* connects you in a compassionate way with the outside world,
* supports the philosophy of non-destructiveness and sustainability, and
* integrates work with personal life and community.

In our time only artist have been given permission to look at work this way. So you might say you should consider your life a work of art. And whereas those who follow the way of the starving artist are expected to accept poverty as the price they pay, those who follow the way of right livelihood are not. Right livelihood gives material well-being a place, it simply does not put it on a pedestal. In right livelihood, material wealth is not the "bottom-line." The true goals of work are, rather, self-fulfillment and wisdom--and, ultimately, enlightenment.

Those who pursue right livelihood are neither in poverty nor strung out in an overextended cycle of material consumption for which work is simly a means. They do work that feels and is right for them, for their community, and for the planet.

Most people find that it takes years to make the transition from the mainstream to this new way of life. First you have to admit that you are responsible for your self-actualization. Then you have to make the journey. This can be a painful process--to let go of the old and familiar ways always is--but most people are very satisifed with the results.

Don't think you have to take this journey alone. In fact, it's terribly important that you look around and find people and groups who wupport the right livelihood way of life. Giving and getting support while trying to meet the challenges of learning a new way is key. And shartin gthe journey with others of like mind ensures tha tyou keep your motivation high.

You can start small, perhaps by recycling or using more public transit. As you gain experience and confidence you can begin planning larger steps such as a career change.

Most people find that it takes years to make the transistion and settle into this new way of life. But once they have embarked most people report increased feelings of self-esteem and well being. They feel good that they no longer wupport the damage that the industrial era has done to the planet and to people. They have found a positive, balanced alternative through right livelihood.

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