I find the whole concept of #joblove very concerning if not entirely a depressing trap. That somehow if you do not love your moneymaker, then you are wasting your life or were benched from something greater.
I couldn’t quite put my finger on why necessarily it bothers me so much though; that our vocation is so tied up in what we do. Probably because it is everywhere. We use it to build our first impressions and create resumes of what we’ve accomplished over time. Perhaps even to prove somehow to yourself that you haven’t been wasting time. Yes, within the last year I’ve been able to X, Y and Z. Live life to the fullest they say. Why do I feel like really what they’re saying, is do something that makes you famous, or sets you apart from the rest. That distinguishes you from “the rest”; proving you are not only good enough, but better than.
In the Ashtanga system, Yamas and Niyamas come before Asana. These ethical guidelines are a prerequisite to your physical asana journey let alone your quest for enlightenment. Santosha (contentment) is just one of them that applies here. So how does one stay fulfilled? It's common practice to search for happiness in your job. But does that create fulfillment?
James Hillman in “The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling” he states that “a typical mistake: identifying vocation only with a specific kind of job, rather that also with the performance of the job…the myth that the soul selects its lot in terms of a job…you are what you do, and therefore if you have a mediocre job like cutting meat in a supermarket you are not so called…again the mistake; for character is not what you do, it’s the way you do it” (252).
He points out for us that vocation is less of a call to a particular career, but rather relates to our character development. Character meaning in this case, your soul’s desire or what we would call in our yoga practice our lifelong dharma or life’s purpose.
This does not need to be some grand pursuit. “What determines eminence is less a call to greatness than the call of character, that inability to be other than what you are” (251). This asks us to begin to identify who we are by the habits and patterns we create. This is not inherent to our natural in today’s society. There is no resume for right effort, kindness or resiliency. Even the word contentment seems mediocre. As if it’s less than success. Who just wants to be satisfied? There is some implication of settling and we are always told not to settle but instead reach for the stars!
“As long as we regard people in terms of earning power or specific expertise, we do not see their character. Our lens has been ground to one average prescription that is best suited for spotting freaks…Character forms a life regardless of how obscurely that life is lived and how little light falls on it from the stars. Calling becomes a calling to life, rather than imagined in conflict with life. Calling to honesty rather than to success” (255).
A lack of contentment breeds frustration. “I am not satisfied with this and I can’t change it in this moment ARGHHH!” We all know this is a waste of time. Stewing in our lack of omnipotence keeps energy stagnant. This corresponds so well to our physical yoga practice. Sometimes we hold onto the ease of past accomplishments. “Where did it go? Will it ever come back?! I don’t know who I am anymore if it doesn’t.”
When you look at photos on social media, you really only see “the freaks.” So we become normalized to their abilities never minding the capable body they were born with or the time they can spend moving it around. Somehow we think THIS is it. That’s how I should look. If I don’t, then I’m just not good enough. What I’m doing is not good enough. I am just so mediocre, dull, bleh. NO! It is our ability to try and focus for a little. Our attempts to stay calm when it gets difficult and to forgive ourselves when we freak out. It’s not rare for me to shout an expletive when I fall out of something. I have not perfected the art of acceptance but it doesn’t mean that I don’t still try. Learning to be okay with only the sound of our breath in the absence of approval and comparison is as hard as it is rewarding.
Contentment invites us to develop habits that make us strong enough to resist society’s interpretations. For me, the asana practice is my daily morning ritual designed to practice this. It is a reminder that I have exactly all that I need right there in my body; that I am enough and worthy of love.
We all have an opportunity to see that happiness isn’t designed for a special few. It can be found in daily offerings of service to yourself by clearing your mind of falsehoods. Also an opportunity to be of service to others through the compassionate recognition that you are the same. All of this has the potential to be practiced everywhere, no matter what you are doing; working, or moving through asana. Let your habits help train you to be reminded of this, especially when the present tasks are hard. This is my prayer.
So maybe instead of #joblove the pursuit of happiness is better found in #charactercraving or #SantoshaSoul; the acceptance and love of your unseen immeasurable effort to recognize you are plenty.