Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio.
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio…
― Joy Division / Transmission
Monday is a tough day for a lot of people. It’s the beginning of a new work week and a return to a routine that for many feels like a grind more than a pleasure. Often we engage with our jobs as a simple exchange—our labor, their money—and the result is our relationship with it is often fraught. When we see work in this way it only drives us further way from ourselves. We end up wearing an emotional mask at work that betrays who we really are for fear that someone will see that we are not as interested as we should be. Monday becomes a marker of time against Friday and we loose sight of the richer potential of our lives.
The poet and organizational development expert has written a wonderful book on our relationship with work, ourselves, and our partners called The Three Marriages. In the book he debunks the idea of our separate lives, a home life, work life, and an interior life and offers a more rational pathway that helps us to understand they are all intertwined. He says, “Work is a very serious matter indeed. We freight our work with meaning and identity, and fight hard and long for some kind of purpose in our endeavors. Vocation is a moveable frontier between what we want for ourselves and what the world demands of us.” Indeed work is another kind of marriage containing the similar dialogues, and demands. Whyte posits that just like our marriages, work should be addressed from the vantage point of enrichment. We should connect with work as we connect with our partners, by involving ourselves in a larger world.
It is unreasonable to expect that we will awake everyday ready to engage the world fully and open to the richness it has to offer, both good and bad. We can, however, awake with a kernel of excitement as if we were awakening inside a tent on a distant mountain not knowing what that days trek will bring. It’s just planting a tiny seed that leaves yourself slightly emotionally vulnerable to the day’s events. That vulnerability is your gateway to empathy, and empathy is the root of joy. When we feel how others feel and see others as human beings with the same challenges we gain an emotional lightness that relieves us from our own suffering, because we have perspective. It is the understanding just like in a marriage or partnership that the other person we are deeply engaged with has their own unique desires and needs, and that they too may dread Mondays. Once we have that perspective we’re able to understand better how to engage in the marriage of work because we have exchanged this idea of the demand from a formless other (our boss, management, stock holders, co-workers, etc.) for cooperations with other human beings. As human beings we are naturally cooperative and social animals. We spend enormous cooperative effort during times of crisis when it becomes most apparent, helping each other survive.
On this Monday try not to look at work as an exchange where an invisible force is diminishing you with their demands in exchange for money that you hope to use in order to find happiness. Instead, see your job as a collective effort, no matter how mundane or even imbalanced, that requires us all to cooperate. If a co-worker is demanding or grumpy take a second to realize that they too have the challenges that come with life and are struggling as well. If the task you’re doing is mundane, difficult, or stressful, start to break it down into discrete parts that prevents clock watching. Look closer at what you’re doing and aim for fascination instead of resistance. Most of all practice being joyful despite the conditions in front of you. Why accept a life that is tragic, painful, and unfulfilling? Let go of your preconceptions and let yourself be open to the possibilities of the day. Find joy in the dance of the everyday and dance, dance, dance, to the radio.