Much of the life of young people is dedicated to being frustrated with a job. Why? Because we all work the longest fucking hours and are convinced that our employments or careers define us.
This is not the case and I am here to remind you to wake the fuck up: you are more than your job. In fact, your job is a means to an end unless you are a celebrity or a small business.
Philosophy and psychology are here to remind us of this too. Shared by Science Of Us today, defining your meaning outside of a job is important because your not-work time is your real life. This time helps us reach a type of transcendence by “devoting one’s efforts and energies to something beyond oneself.” No, that is not code for “Give yourself up to work.” but to define yourself by a theme that is bigger than work, that means more than one day. It’s the forest instead of the trees.
There are two ways to do this: pursuing something long term and being kind. The first, explained.
Attempting to master a craft may seem inherently selfish, but that’s not the case. In interviews with over 100 highly productive scientists, artists, and other creative types, the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discovered that many found meaning in their lives precisely because they lost themselves in their pursuit, or because they turned themselves over to it. He coined this “vital engagement,” or a relationship to an activity that manifests when one becomes fully absorbed in it. Meaning, Csikszentmihalyi writes, “derives from the connection of the individual to a tradition, enterprise, and community of practice that lie beyond the self.”
That’s exactly it. So, when we lose ourself in a pursuit that is defined by another, what does that make us? Probably a copy of the self. You’re not transcending then: you’re faxing to someone else.
Kindness plays into this as it’s a meaning to tie you (and your pursuits) to community, to base yourself in something.
Researchers speculate that [an act of kindness] makes us feel more connected to and rooted in community. Additionally, doing nice things for others affords us a purpose that is beyond ourselves and the opportunity to contribute to a greater cause — both of which are associated with increased meaning.
Again, it’s all in how we relate. We can work with others but it’s the working for where we lose ourselves. That’s why we are more than our job: because there is so much more between us as people and between our ears as the self than we give credit for.
If you’re frustrated with your job or simply want to evolve further in your life, keep this in mind: you are more than a job. Find your lifelong theme and be kind—and stick with them. That way, you’ll transcend.
(And, for reference, I’ve always thought my theme was to make people happy by pointing out the absurdity in reality and the reality in absurdity. I don’t think I’ve succeeded in this exactly yet but I’m certainly working toward this goal. Each day does feel closer and closer to this and I’m getting better and better at acknowledging what is and what isn’t contributing to these goals. I also started volunteering with the elderly recently. You should volunteer too! We should all be of some service to each other beyond donating to the ACLU, whether that is helping out people in need or simply connecting like minded people by email to help better their lives. It all helps.)