The Nature of Work
Vata. Pitta. Kapha. Are you naturally enthusiastic but prone to tire easily? Quite intellectual and tend to get angry when stressed? Steady, affectionate, and slow to get moving in the morning?
Dr. Deepak Chopra, in his book “Perfect Health – The Complete Mind/Body Guide”, tells a story of a college student who decided to get a job waiting tables. This student was outgoing, quick, and responsive who at first seemed perfect for a fast paced, busy restaurant. Over time, however, this student found that the crowded, non-stop, and noisy environment made him profoundly unhappy and, he had mysterious physical pain.
Dr. Chopra suggested that finding a position with more peace and quiet that valued and utilized his creativity would be a better match for his mind/body type, his ‘dosha’, in Ayurvedic medicine.
According to Dr. Chopra, knowing your ‘dosha’ – Vata, Pitta, or Kapha, – is essential to finding and maintaining balance and health. Once you know your natural tendencies, your innate likes and dislikes, you can structure your lifestyle – what you eat, how your exercise, strategies for managing stress, even your job choice – to be in harmony with who you are at a basic core and cellular level. (take the Chopra Dosha Quiz online here)
Having a respect for and awareness of your nature is key to having a healthy relationship with yourself, and thus managing all aspects of your life optimally.
Similarly, I strongly suggest we each be really clear on what we want in and from our jobs.
Whether you are searching for new employment or reevaluating your current position, get in touch with your inner desires, then check if they are aligned with your inner nature.
Ask yourself the following questions to determine what type of work, environment, and people you want in your job. Notice which of the answers feel most important to you. For example:
- What types of tasks do you enjoy/not enjoy doing? (EX: Writing? Problem solving? Customer service/contact? Teaching? Selling? Planning? Implementing?)
- Do you thrive on responsibility and inspiring others, being a leader? Do you prefer to be a support person?
- Do you like the stability of doing routine and repetitive tasks? Do you need constant variety? How well do you adapt to change?
- Where does your motivation come from? Can you self-motivate? Does competition motivate you? Do you need strict deadlines and a boss breathing down your back?
- How detail-oriented are you? Are you a big-picture person? Are you better with ideas or facts/data?
- Do you need clear procedures? How do you feel in a very structured environment? A disorganized or chaotic environment? Do you want discretion in decision making?
- What should the physical environment of your work be like? Small office? Large warehouse? Home-based? Sleek and professional? Warm and welcoming?
- What’s your ‘uniform’ for work? (Business casual? Suits, ties, pantyhose? T-shirts & jeans?)
- What is the benefits package like?
- What are the work hours (actual vs. stated; OT or weekends)? Is flexibility important to you? To the company?
- Where is it located? How far do you commute & how? What is nearby? (Is it in an office park? Is the grocery store nearby? Is it close to your children’s school? Is it in a residential area?)
- How much contact do you have with customers? In person or over the phone? Are your customers the general public or professionals in your field or a related field?
- Who are your co-workers? How many are there? What are they like?
- Do you like being closely supervised? Do you prefer to be given lots of leeway to do things your own way/style? Do you like a looser relationship, more of a consulting stance, with your boss?
- Do you prefer to work independently? In a supportive team environment?
Start with these questions, although the most important underlying general questions are: how do you want to spend your working hours, and are the affects a job has on your lifestyle acceptable to you?
For example, if you strive to grow in a corporate position, you may accept a long commute, pay for necessary dry cleaning of expensive suits, wear pantyhose in Florida in August. If you are a high energy, achievement oriented person who can handle stress and long hours in a healthy way, this may fulfill your soul.
My mom, after getting laid off from corporate America, at 50+ years is pretty in touch with her personality and needs in the workplace. She values working with people in a way that feels meaningful to her, she needs a positive, supportive environment that values her contribution. She needs light, airy workspace with room for flowers nearby. She needs to walk on her lunch break, preferably in a lovely outdoor setting. She doesn’t want to take her work home, literally, or mentally.
I’m proud to say that after careful self and financial assessment, she’s opted for a job as an administrative assistant to a high school principal. She loves working with the kids that have discipline issues, work she considers valuable. It’s in a residential neighborhood, with a short commute, close to her gym. She accepts less pay in trade for school holiday time off, knowing her soul needs time to travel, rest, and enjoy her lakeside home.
Does this job match her ‘dosha’ type? Neither of us knows. But it does capitalize on activities that make her feel content, and thus allows for her own individual brand of healthy balance.
I’m not an Ayurvedic practitioner who can determine if a line of work fits your ‘dosha’, however, I believe your own sense well being, particularly regarding your work, will give you all the information you need.
“A job that satisfies (this) deeper part of (their) nature . . . will be much more satisfying in the long run.” says Dr. Chopra.
Regardless of your ‘dosha’, a healthy relationship with our selves, and working with our innate characteristics, will lead us to our best choices in our jobs, as well as the rest of our lives.