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Discovering Right Livelihood April 21, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Mindfulness, People.

Unless and until The Zeitgeist Movement becomes reality, most of us will need to have a job, career, profession, or occupation to provide ourselves with the necessities of life ~ food, clothing, and shelter.

And the occasional cup of Starbucks Coffee.  

Happiness in life is enhanced when how we spend our days adds to, rather than detracts from, the overall quality of our life ~ when our livelihood complements our personality, rather than clashing with it.

Discovering right livelihood is like shopping for a custom-tailored suit . . . we need to be guided primarily by who we are and what we want at this stage in our life.

When we shop for clothes, we don’t consider what would have been a good fit six years ago, or what will look good on us six years from now. 

Instead, based on what’s available, we choose the best fit for us right now. 

We’re investing enough that we want it to be able to wear the suit for the immediate future, but we don’t expect to have it in our wardrobe forever. 

Discovering right livelihood requires the same type of evaluation ~ a focus on who we are right now, not on who we expect to be at some indefinite time in the future.  

Just as we wouldn’t reject a perfectly tailored suit (currently available in our price range) due to concern that it might not fit us down the road, we shouldn’t obsess unduly about whether the best job for us today will fit us perfectly tomorrow. 

If it works now, it works.  If we’re happy now, we’re happy.  

Right livelihood flows from how we feel when we “look in the mirror” ~ not from what our friends and family want us to be, do, say, or wear.  

Someone who hates the color yellow would feel like a canary wearing a bright  yellow suit ~ even if the suit was perfectly tailored in all other respects and . . . his parents and/or friends loved how it looked on him.  

If we want to maximize our happiness, we must consciously decide how we want to spend our days, our nights, and our fashion dollars.  When we focus on what we enjoy doing and what we want out of life, we increase the odds of finding a job that is a “good fit” for us.

No rules.  Just write!

Resources:  Right Livelihood ~ The Ethics of Earning a Living * Wikipedia ~ Noble Eightfold Path

Related Posts:  Caveat Emptor * Stop Playing “Follow The Leader” * Life Is Not One-Size-Fits-All * Do What You Will * Simplify Your Life * Way of the Peaceful Warrior * Live Your Life  * But I Might Die Tonight


1. Chad - April 21, 2010

Words of wisdom. Too much planning for the future is ill-suited (get it?) to the changing reality of life. We don’t know the future, so it’s hard to plan effectively for it.

2. nrhatch - April 21, 2010

Just so, Chad.

Most of us don’t full appreciate who we will be tomorrow.

3. Loreen Lee - April 21, 2010

Right you are. I forget them all, but one of the precepts of the Buddhists Right Livelihood. I think you have covered the topic very well. Another one is Right Thought, I believe. I’d have to look them up.

nrhatch - April 21, 2010

Thanks, Loreen.

Based on your comment, I posted a two links to the Buddhist concept of Right Livelihood and the Noble Eightfold Path.

Another resource: The Big View on my Blogroll.

4. Kalen Cap - April 21, 2010

I like how you connected the right livelihood concept with impermanence here.

5. nrhatch - April 21, 2010

Thanks, KC!

In the past, people could reasonably expect to stay with one job for an entire working lifetime. Since that’s no longer the case for most of us, it pays to focus on what works now . . . and see how we evolve over time.

6. Loreen Lee - April 21, 2010

Thank you, will look for it if I get the time. I remember the general gist of the Buddhism I studied. I even went through some books downstairs to get the Eightfold to post on this site. But I really haven’t got the time. I’m not ‘there’ anymore. I’m sixty eight, and would like to finish my book as a primary objective at this point. I’ve studied my whole life. I can’t possibly remember all of the details of what I have studied. You’re welcome to use my library, though. grin grin.

7. Loreen Lee - April 21, 2010

Buddhism is ALL about impermanence; the ‘illusory’ qualities, therefore of the external world, and the release from this consequent ‘suffering’ by finding the Nirvana of Emptiness within the Mind. Of particular interest to me in my studies, was that I discovered that they thought of all ‘thoughts’ as ‘beings’. I compare it to the Christian concept of the ‘angels’ But this is me, taking the very best, or what I consider the best, i.e. my own interpretation of what I read, and of what people say to me in real life or on the web. I don’t pretend I’m an expert. But I hope my book will encourage those who have not followed the past that there is much to learn from all the religions in the world. (Even though I don’t expect to be a Buddha or the Virgin Mary myself. grin grin)

8. Loreen Lee - April 21, 2010

Thank YOU, nrhatch. Reading these blogs is/can be a big support. Writing can be a very ‘lonely’ occupation. Going back and forth from my writing to these sites, gives me sometimes, a chance to get my breath, and collect myself. I appreciate your work in Spirituality. But it is so ‘like me’ to want to get my ‘two cents’ in. Please let me know if I ever offend. Thanks.

9. nrhatch - April 21, 2010

When we speak our truth, quietly and clearly, and allow others to do the same, we expand the horizons of our world.


10. Loreen Lee - April 21, 2010

Thank you for this nrhatch. It’s a good bit of advice for writing too. I will not be ‘offended’ if you agree. (grin grin). Thanks for the spiritual uplift that is helping me this morning, in Chapter Two. Cheers!

11. nrhatch - April 21, 2010

Enjoy your journey, Loreen! : )

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