Many of us do work whether we are at a job or we raise our children at home. For many of us this work can be a drudgery, it can drain the energy out of us, or we think that life is passing us by. Some of us may not work at all or we may simply pass our days playing or doing what we enjoy. I write not to judge. I write today simply to offer another way to view work. As my life has progressed, especially this past six years, I have found a strengthening and life-giving way to consider the value of work.
There is a way we can view our work as a help to someone else. Our work is indeed something that helps someone else do something that they themselves cannot do, that helps someone else to be able to do something else while we are doing our work, or our work may be something that someone else values and pays money for. So why should this matter?
It should matter because our work can be something that someone else values even if we ourselves may not value it or even if we are not told of other’s valuing it. I venture to say that our work is more valued than we give ourselves credit for. I venture to say that our work can indeed improve someone’s day. I venture to say that our work can be a highlight of someone else’s day. I venture to say there may well have been a time when our work changed someone’s life in a very beautiful and meaningful way. I also venture to say we may never know any of this but we can be open enough to admit that this may well be true.
If we can look less at what we get out of our work and look more to the possibility of what others get out of our work, then I do venture to say that we ourselves can indeed get more out of our work. It is indeed “better to give than to receive”; I have felt this over and over. I offer an example.
I have been a dentist since 1986. I do indeed love what I do. I do indeed care for my patients. However, my depth of love for what I do and my depth of caring for my patients dramatically deepened when I was told of this other way of viewing and valuing work. My being open to this paradigm shift over time has deepened my understanding of the value of work. Over time I have also been gifted to understand the value of my work to others. This is indeed a gift to hear this feedback. This gift is also an encouragement to keep doing what I had been doing. This gift is also an encouragement to do even better.
I have come to learn that patients do value our dental services. I have come to learn that patients do value the way we respect them as individuals. I have come to learn that patients value the way we deliver our services to them with honesty, kindness, fairness, sympathy, and with empathy. Patients do recognize the sincere care we have for them not only as patients but as individuals as well. And this recognition makes the value of our work more unique, more life-giving, and more attractive to them, and thus to me.
We can all do this. If we can be open enough to this paradigm shift, to this different way of framing our work, we can indeed find a deeper value of work, we can indeed find a higher value of work, and we may indeed find a higher value for our lives and the lives of others!