It was world mental health day recently, and #worklifebalance has been trending on Twitter. I have always been a bit troubled by the idea of work/life balance as if they were somehow opposites or alternatives. Isn’t work an essential part of life?
Sure, when I think of work, I can think of its stress and how it can demand too much effort. I know about the anxiety it causes and the bullying it breeds. But I can also think of how it offers companionship of the most profound kind, the opportunity to be intensely creative, the chance to care for others and to be cared for and the stupendous gift of laughter. Sometimes, the posts here and other social media characterise work too much in terms of struggle, stress, overcoming adversity, bias, and prejudice. ( And I have been guilty of this!)
We celebrate too rarely perhaps, how work can help us flourish as human beings. Of course, work for some is just a crushing, monstrous struggle, but for those who can make choices then assumptions about work should be challenged. The fundamental question is not what but how I work and how I live the rest of my life. How do I engage with both? How do I make the choices that enrich me? It is perhaps too easy to see work as a functional necessity that enables someone to do other things, things for which ironically, they find themselves because of work too tired and stressed to do! In my book How to Survive and Thrive in an Impossible World, I wondered about the idea of an ‘artisan’ approach to life that would encompass work.
By an artisan approach, I am suggesting life is something you craft. Something in which you need to be close to the raw materials you are dealing with, in this case, the potential in yourself and the potential in the world around you. It is about you being inspired. Inspirare is the Latin origin of the word, and it meant to breathe or to blow, bringing life to something. An artisan brings life to everything they make. It is your calling to bring vigour and vitality into your life. Finally, you are a good artisan when you are authentic. You are not here to make copies of someone else’s life: there is something of you in everything you make.
How To Survive and Thrive in an Impossible World is now also available as an audio book. (see https://adbl.co/3Bwsh83 )
#mentalhealth #work #creative
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