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Using the "5 perfections" at work - Joyful Exertion

The fourth perfection or paramita is Joyful Exertion.  This virtue is also known as Diligence, Energy or Enthusiasm.   When we are immersed in activities that we enjoy and at which we consider ourselves talented, energy and enthusiasm come naturally.   This is why two very helpful questions when interviewing are "What do you enjoy?" and "What are you really good at?".   

But our energy and enthusiasm for the most enjoyable and rewarding activities can wane if we are overly tired, stressed or feeling under-appreciated.    Throw in the inevitable tedious and unsavory tasks and exertion can become exhausting, with any joy in performing those tasks unlikely.  Perhaps a change in view or attitude could help.  Here are some very simple and practical recommendations:

  • As counter-intuitive as this may seem, imagining that the activity is being done as a volunteer or being done directly for someone about whom you care deeply can change your motivation.  
  • Gratitude is a powerful antidote for laziness and/or apathy that might arise during our workday.  From the simple gratitude of having a job to a deeper sense of thankfulness that you have the opportunity to practice generosity, this change in view may be all you need to regain enthusiasm or, at the very least, contentment.
  • While an attachment to perfection can sap the joy out of many tasks, the aspiration to practice your own personal best effort  can freshen up even the most mundane and rote activities. 

To review the other virtues, see the previous articles in this series related to generosity, discipline and patience.