Work and Productivity – Your Contribution To Life

Work and Productivity

Your Contribution To Life

 

Chapter 1 Why We Must Work?

 

Wisdom

Work is our contribution hence meaning in life

Most of us acknowledge and relate to the fact that we need to work, and yet we constantly agonize over our workload.

 

Is this our destiny, or can we achieve some balance?

 

More importantly, can we find a deeper meaning in this need to be productive without being overwhelmed by the need itself?

Practice and Theory

 

The drive to work and accomplish is an integral part of human life. As the sages say “every person was created to work.”

 

A person cannot be satisfied if he or she is not productive.

Practice and Theory

 

Human nature detests receiving something for nothing – “bread of shame” is how it is described by the sages.

 

Wisdom

 

Remember: We were created to transform this material world into a more refined place and to introduce a higher dimension: G-dliness.

 

So while the ultimate goal of our work may be spiritual growth, the fact that G-d placed us in a material world means that we reach that spiritual place through lowly physical labor.

 

Practice and Theory

 

But if we were created to work, why do we so crave vacation and rest?

 

Because man is composed of two dimensions, the body and the soul.

 

The body, by its nature, grows weary, and needs to rest.

 

The soul, on the other hand, never grows weary; it is the vibrant soul that pushes you to work even when your body itself would rather languish and be cared for by someone else.

 

Wisdom

 

A story

A nobleman who enjoyed the aesthetics of life hired a farmer to stand inside his castle and move back and forth with a hand pick, just as he would in the field.

 

The nobleman took great pleasure in the simple elegance of the farmer’s sway, and he paid the farmer well for his “work.”

 

Still, after entertaining the nobleman for several days, the farmer refused to continue. “But I pay you generously,” said the surprised nobleman, “Many times more than you would make by working in the field. And you don’t have to exert yourself so much?”

 

“You don’t understand” the farmer replied. “I cannot continue doing something – even if it takes no toil and effort – that doesn’t produce. I would rather work for much less and much harder and be productive.”

 

Wisdom

 

Why did G-d create man so that his satisfaction is linked to effort?

 

Wouldn’t we be better off if we received everything we needed with no effort at all?

 

The answer is that through work, a human being becomes a giver, a contributor to life.

 

Wisdom

 

By creating man so that his deepest pleasure is derived from his own effort, G-d bestowed the greatest gift of all: the capacity to become G-dly, an equal partner in the creation and development of the universe.

 

Wisdom

 

So work is not something that we do merely to make enough money to surround ourselves with material comforts; work is the natural expression of human life.

 

Wisdom

 

Work is not a burden that must be wearily born, but the very fabric of who we are and how we contribute to life.

 

We must recognize and take advantage of this most precious innate tendency, and use it in a productive and Divine manner.

 

Practice

 

No matter how much we may have accomplished, we can and must surpass our previous achievements.

 

There are, of course, marked differences between each phase of human life, but we must be productive through them all.

 

A child, unburdened by the need to earn a living, must be productive through education, study and emotional growth in his formative years; the same is true for an older person who no longer needs to earn a living every day.

 

Even a vacation should only be a pause from physical labor, not a vacation from personal and spiritual growth.

 

Each of us is born with tremendous resources and inestimable abilities; part of being productive is discovering these strengths.

 

When we fully apply ourselves, we will accomplish far beyond our expectations.

 

Wisdom

 

The sages say, “If someone should tell you ‘I have worked but not achieved’ do not believe him; if he says ‘I have not worked but I have achieved’ do not believe him; but if he says ‘I have worked and I have achieved’ believe him.”

 

Chapter 2 Toward What End Are We Working?

 

Practice and Theory

Using our Work for Higher Ends

 

Work as an end onto itself cannot be fully satisfying or fulfilling.

 

As more and more people are realizing, it is possible to have a largely successful career and still feel empty; if you do not nourish your own emotional and spiritual needs, no amount of material success will satisfy you.

 

We need to know that our work leads us to a higher purpose; we need to know that we are leaving a positive impact on our world.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Remember, the underlying purpose of our work is to use our talents, abilities and strengths to improve the material world and make it a more G-dly place.

 

Practice

 

To do so, we must recognize that spirituality is the primary force in our lives while the material and physical are a vehicle for the soul’s expression.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Yes, you must do everything possible to ensure that your work is a success, using your physical and intellectual faculties to the utmost, but your primary objective should always be to make your work a channel for G-dliness, for noble and humane causes.

 

Practice and Theory

 

You must fully concentrate on your work, and yet not be so immersed or enamored with it as to lose sight of your higher objective.

 

Practice and Theory

 

You must remember that the real bottom line is G-d and the virtuous results of your work, not the numbers written on the bottom of an accounting sheet.

 

Practice

 

How do you actualize your commitment to working toward a higher goal?

 

  • By conducting your business ethically and honestly.

 

  • By giving generously to charity.

 

  • By recognizing that it is G-d who blesses you with prosperity.

 

  • By understanding that every new business opportunity is really an opportunity to spread a spirit of G-dliness.

 

Practice and Theory

 

We should always work as hard at serving G-d as we work on our own business.

 

There are in fact many parallels between Divine Service and running a successful business.

 

  • In our altruistic and spiritual pursuits, we should always try to return a profit, bearing more fruit than the original investment.

 

  • We must be persistent: if one method doesn’t succeed, try another.

 

  • We must be totally immersed in our noble pursuits, even dreaming about them, not just acting as a hired hand.

 

  • We must fully use all the resources available to us, and remember that accountability is crucial to success.

 

  • And above all, wherever we go, we must look for new opportunities to perfect ourselves and society.

 

Practice and Theory

 

It might seem that a strong commitment to G-d would detract from our work, but the exact opposite is true.

 

For example, consider designating a part of your workday for study or prayer.

 

Even if it is only a few minutes, you will achieve a specific focus within each day, which will carry over into your work.

 

How often are we unproductive at work because we are unfocused?

 

You may spend hours and hours at the office, but unless those hours are focused, you accomplish very little.

 

Practice and Theory

 

What about when we simply feel overwhelmed by our work burden?

 

Again, the only way to meet this challenge is to connect with the Divine.

 

Practice and Theory

 

When you focus on and commit to fulfilling your higher mission, through generosity and kindness, your soul provides you with vast amounts of energy, far beyond your expectations.

 

While the body constantly needs to be rested and refueled, there are no such limitations to our spiritual energy – nor, therefore, to our spiritual productivity.

 

Practice and Theory

We must set high standards for ourselves in our work.

 

Just as the soul is limitless, so is our potential for growth.

 

Chapter 3 How Can We Overcome The Challenge Of Hard Work?

 

Practice and Theory

Obstacles are really Challenges to Bring Out Your Very Best

 

Since the whole point of life is for man to become an independent giver and creator, every obstacle must be seen as merely another challenge designed to bring out our best effort.

 

Practice and Theory

 

Life itself is the greatest challenge of all – each of us is a vulnerable person in a brutal world, with no way of knowing what fate his or her destiny holds.

 

But life’s challenges bring out the deepest dimensions of the soul.

 

Every form of growth is preceded by frustration and pain.

 

A mother must endure the difficulties of pregnancy and childbirth before she can experience the triumph of birth.

 

An artist must endure the hours of confusion and frustration before his or her creativity yields fruit.

 

How do we access the inner strength to transform our work obstacles into challenges for growth?

 

By seeing work for what is – a means to fulfill our Divine mission.

 

Practice and Theory

 

If we remember that we work not just for the monetary gain or the personal satisfaction, our commitment to work becomes that much stronger.

 

And yet our work also becomes less all-consuming for we are no longer totally controlled by the demands of the moment and by the subjective whims that are part of human nature.

 

Instead of getting caught up in work at the expense of everything else, you see it as one more step in serving G-d, your family, and society.

 

Wisdom

 

We all know how it feels to be consumed by work.

 

We can no longer see the world beyond our job, we feel overwhelmed and confused.

 

But just acknowledging that our work has a higher purpose is the start of a healthier attitude.

 

What once seemed like insurmountable obstacles will become challenges that spur you on to even greater accomplishments.

 

Wisdom

 

We especially encounter frustration at the start of a new project or a new job.

 

As the sages say “All the beginnings are difficult.”

 

If approached with the proper perspective, though, this frustration becomes an opportunity to start each project with an added determination, an extra incentive to get of to a robust beginning.

 

We must realize, G-d is with us in all that we do.

Practice and Theory

 

The workplace is indeed a formidable challenge to our standards and values.

 

We are inundated with demands and obligations, with complications and challenges that threaten to make us lose sight of why we are there in the first place.

 

By focusing on your spiritual priorities, however, you can ensure that your work will keep moving toward productive and virtuous ends.

 

Practice and Theory

 

When you go to work tomorrow think about your goals in a new way.

 

Transform your work environment into a place where kindness and goodwill flourish.

 

Set an example of gracious conduct; greet everyone with an extra-pleasant “good morning.”

 

Instill your business with a commitment to higher values.

 

Work hard to succeed, all the while knowing that you are working to fulfill G-d’s will.

 

At the end of your workday you should be able to step back and see your work with this new perspective.

 

And this new perspective will not only benefit you and your family but your business as well.

 

Practice and Theory

Modern technology enables us to spend far less time and energy on physical labor, freeing us to be more productive.

 

Such freedom should not be squandered, it should be taken as a challenge to spur us on to greater spiritual growth and bring further harmony to the world.

 

Wisdom

 

Until now, we have only known life in a world in which achievement was measured in terms of a wilderness tamed, a tyrant defeated, a disease cured.

 

 

A world in which there is a Noble Peace Prize only because there are wars, where there is learning only because there is ignorance, where there is philanthropy only because there is hunger and want.

 

But now we have the opportunity to go even further.

 

We can do more than simply defeat evil; we can probe the infinite realms of goodness.

 

It is up to each and everyone of us to seek out, and take advantage of these new opportunities, to exert ourselves and be more productive than ever.

 

Practice and Theory

 

At the end of every workday, ask yourself: Am I using all of my G-d given resources and abilities, time and energy, to produce more than was given to me?

 

If you can answer yes to this question, you will know that you are well on your way toward a meaningful life.

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