The portfolio and writerspace for Al Gentile

483 Words: Why work?

We get up in the morning, throw some water on our face, hop in the shower, drink our coffee, get in the car, drive, get to work, work, come home, eat dinner, go to bed, then rinse and repeat all over again.

Day in and day out we accomplish the same things over and over, with some (slight or large) deviations in between, but most of us return to the cycle of daily life.

Working in several jobs of diminishing rewards, I used to let this cycle get me down. Work was just work, and play was just a necessary distraction.

But I’ve thought often about the point of life, and a quote from the Bhagavad Gita, spoken by the godhead Krishna to prince Arjuna, comes to mind:

“Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind. It was by such work that Janaka attained perfection; others too have followed this path.”

Janaka, to note, was one who attained enlightenment in the canon of Hindu mythology. But aside from that, this quote resonates to something I think we all (myself included) need to think about in our day-to-day.

One of the biggest lessons to take from this passage is that thinking beyond the immediate reward will bear fruit beyond what you can imagine. Stop reading and let that sink in.

With most everything we do, we are in some way assisting another, from the clerk at Target to the executive at a Fortune 500 company. None of us would be paid anything unless we in some way brought value to someone else.

So, while sitting in a dead-end job, at least in my mind, comfort can be had by understanding what I think to be a self-evident truth—as long as you are helping someone, you have worth. 

The real question at the end of the day is:

How and for whom do you want to generate value? 

Ask yourself this question, and answer honestly. Does your life fit into this idea of what you want? Is there something else you’ve always wanted to do? How badly do you want to do it? How badly do you want to change?

I’m finding myself at a crossroads right now, still trying to figure out this question. Yet, it helps me to know that while I was serving tables at Applebee’s, there was at least the realization that I was helping people have a good time. While copywriting for a travel agency, I was helping to inspire people to travel the world. Writing this blog (hopefully), I am helping to inspire people to think about their life more deeply.

If  you have some wise words to share along these lines, leave a comment below! I also highly suggest picking up a copy of the Gita. There are many great insights while following the story of Arjuna’s enlightenment that I have personally taken to heart.

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