It can be hard for pagans to seek satisfaction in the mainstream world. What we hold dear differs from what media says should be important to us. American culture tells us that we must want more things and do more things. We are expected to strive for the title that comes with the biggest office and highest paycheck. These ideas (and others) that aren’t our own saturate our thoughts. They keep us busy without supporting our quest for happiness and satisfaction. We work hard but fail to discover our bliss.
If you want to be productive, setting aside your work seems counter-intuitive. The truth we fail to recognize is that busy doesn’t equal productive. We all dislike busy work and avoid it at all costs. How do you define busy work? Is busy work tasks that aren’t essential for survival? No one needs to play music, dance, or write blog posts like this one. Does busy work simply consist of things you dislike? For me, that would be laundry, homework, and making the bed. We probably agree that busy work consists of things that we feel wastes our time. If this is the case, there is only one way to avoid it. We must identify the things that are important and therefore worthy of our time. Identifying them requires that we make the time to step back and contemplate. The business of introspection, gathering our thoughts, is the key to bliss.
A satisfying and passionate life is built upon our personal values. To put it simply, a person’s values are the aspects of their life that are the most important. These are things like family, good health, learning, creating, helping others, or career. We all deal with outside influences that can skew our sense of values. Our culture, our families, and our spiritual paths all provide guidelines. That doesn’t mean we can adopt them in their entirety. Each person has to determine their own priorities. It can take some time to sort through the noise. If you need guidance in determining your personal values look to things you like to do. You might also start by mapping how you spend your time. Once you know your core values, you can take the step of working to support them. Knowing that your tasks feed something important creates satisfaction. Your work becomes productivity and the resulting product is your life.
Let’s acknowledge that there are things we must do that we will never love to do. This isn’t going to change by understanding your values. For instance, you might dislike your weekly call with a relative but value family connections. In those cases, you keep doing the unpleasant task. What changes is your acknowledgment that this inconvenient thing is important to you? There are also tasks for basic survival that must be accomplished. We all require food, shelter, warmth, sleep, and safety to function. Our values can inform how we acquire these things. If creatively expressing yourself is something you value then in our modern world you find a way to obtain your basic needs through creative work. Alternatively, you find work that allows you to fill your needs and gives you the time and opportunity to pursue your passions elsewhere. Your values eliminate wasted time by giving meaning to even the most basic of tasks.
I challenge you to take the time needed to determine your values. Set aside the things you think you have to do. You will then discover the life that you were born to lead. You will find all of the passion you need and fulfill your purpose.