How to assess the value of our work

We often value our work based on the paycheck it provides — the bigger the paycheck, the better the work. Such assessment is understandable because our mainstream culture is materialistic; it teaches us that money is essential for us to get the things that will make us happy.  

Yes, money is necessary for us to survive and to live comfortably. Still, money can’t be our sole parameter for valuing our work. Why not? Because we are not sensual creatures who need enjoyment; we are spiritual beings who need fulfillment. And fulfillment rarely comes solely from money and the things money can buy. 

Then, where does fulfillment come from? Some sources are:

Social contribution: We want to feel that our existence counts, that our endeavors make a positive difference in others’ lives. When our work helps make even one person’s life easier, we relish a sublime fulfillment. 

Psychophysical harmonization: We all have certain innate talents and interests. When our work enables us to engage and develop our natural inclinations, we feel at peace with ourselves. Indeed, the Bhagavad-gita recommends a social setup where vocations are determined according to dispositions. 

Devotional connection: If we remember that our abilities are gifts from God and are meant to be used in a mode of contribution, that service-centered vision can transform our work into a form of worship (18.46). Such work can provide the deepest fulfillment, for it harmonizes us not just with our psychophysical nature but also with our spiritual nature. That spiritual nature is to live in a loving connection with our Lord, who is the source of all happiness.  

One-sentence summary:

Assess your work not just based on its monetary value to provide enjoyment, but also based on its nonmonetary value to provide fulfillment — through social contribution, psychophysical harmonization and devotional connection.

Think it over:

  • How can the social dimension of our work provide fulfillment?
  • How can the psychophysical dimension of our work provide fulfillment?
  • How can the devotional dimension of our work provide fulfillment?

***

18.46: By worship of the Lord, who is the source of all beings and who is all-pervading, a man can attain perfection through performing his own work.

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