I was listening to a Keynote address at a holistic educators’ conference by Dr. Gregory Cajete. He was talking about the Tewa Nation’s, which is his heritage, view of life and work and education and spirituality. It is a whole philosophy where everything done is done for the sake of life. There is not artificial division between work, leisure, spirituality, functionality, art, etc. All is one, all is life – all is done for the sake of life.

What would it look like, within your own life, to approach your work as something done for the sake of life?

I ask this because our relationship to work is often so negative. How many of us, brainwashed by the predominating western world view, see work for the sake of life? With high levels of burnout in many profession is seems we are working to destroy our spirits and lifestyles and not to support our life.

That is not to say that we shouldn’t work hard or put strong effort into what we do. I’ve had people accuse me of promoting laziness. How is encouraging people to work in a way that prevents burnout equated with promoting laziness?

Working hard, the satisfaction of a job well done, putting in energy and seeing the rewards of our efforts, seeing the positive effects of our work in the lives of others are all positive benefits of work. That is work for the sake of life.

But doing the business of ‘work’ in a way that leaves us exhausted and grumpy, unfulfilled, drained, feeling that ‘work’ has eaten away at other aspects of our lives and relationships is hardly work for the sake of life – it is work that is sucking the life out of us.

If, as a society, we truly valued life, we would value work and organize it in such a way that it fed our spirit and nurtured and worked in harmony with the other spheres of our life.

I can’t tell you what that would look like for you. I can only ask you to ask yourself: if I worked for the sake of all life – what would my work look like for me? What would it feel like? What priorities would I set? What attitudes would I adjust or adopt? What outcomes would be important to me and all who my work affects?

These are good questions for developing a healthy relationship with our work, our lives and ourselves.