Since When Did Work and Life Become Separate?
We often hear the words work and life in the same sentence, yet treated as two separate things. Work-life balance, as we know, is a common term that gets thrown around. But if you think about it, to speak about work and life as if they're two different things is not only incorrect, but also a detriment to how we live.
Typically when used in the same sentence, the distinction is that things that happen at work don't happen outside of work, and vice versa. So, if you're having difficulties at work, somehow those difficulties don't spill into your life after work. Or, if you're going through a challenging break-up, that's okay, because that's only in life, not in work.
On the flip side, let's say you're becoming more confident in your abilities at work. Does that mean that once you leave the office, you lose that confidence? For these reasons, along with a myriad of others, separating work and life is just non-sense.
I understand if you're simply trying to distinguish between hours spent in the office versus outside of the office. But anything beyond that requires no distinction. Life is all-encompassing. The good, the bad, the work and non-work, the pleasure and pain, the successes and hardships. This is all part of life.
When we separate work and life, what are we implying? That we're not living at work? That work isn't part of our life?
Surely we know that's not the case, since we spend most of our waking hours at our job. If work didn't include life, and if we counted sleep away from life too, then we'd have barely any life left over to live.
I think we can agree that your work includes your life, or rather, your life includes your work.
Life is everything, because life is here and now, and here and now is the only place you ever live. Whether you're working, spending time with family, or alone, the time is now, and you are where you are.
This is the only playing field we live in - the here and now - and there's no discrimination against what we're doing. Just because we're at work does not mean life takes the back seat.
In fact, work is a tremendous place, perhaps one of the best places, to practice living and being.
Think about all the stresses and frustrations, triumphs and tribulations that you encounter at work on a daily basis, let alone over the course of your career. Is there not a more fantastic way to practice presence, to be mindful of your inner world as you navigate the difficulties of business?
When we're talking about work, we should never distinguish between work and life as if life was something different. It's fine if you're referring to your hours at work versus your hours away from work. But to say that life is somehow not work is completely missing the point.
When you see your life as one endless playing field, a canvas that will forever be there for you to paint on, then it doesn't matter where you are - whether at work, at home, or on vacation.
When you interact with life in the present moment, your activity or location is really irrelevant. What you're doing doesn't matter so much as how you're doing it.
Live with substance!