Last night I went to a Rosh Hashanah service at Beyt Tikkun in Berkeley, California, where one of the most valuable offerings of the evening was a handout entitled “High Holiday Workbook.” The workbook encourages participants to reflect on where in our lives we might have some spiritual alignment work to do. It asks questions about our relationships with other human beings, with our body and soul, and, most appropriately to my profession, with our work.
How spiritually nourishing is your work?
The High Holiday Workbook poses many great questions about what’s happening in the area of work. Following are some of them. I invite you to consider these questions, regardless of whether you are currently employed or looking for work as your full-time occupation:
- What have been the problems you’ve faced?
- Have you had good relationships with co-workers?
- Have you felt fulfilled?
- Have you been involved in collective efforts to change the workplace … or have you felt powerless and unable to envision changing anything?
- If you are/were in a supervisory position, do/did you treat your supervisees with the respect that they deserve?
- Did you discharge anger from work [or from unemployment] by punishing yourself (e.g. through alcohol or drugs) or by dumping on friends or lovers – or did you express that anger at the appropriate targets or through collective action?
- How healthy were your coping mechanisms for stress?
These questions encourage us to look inward and to consider doing things a different way if we find places where we are not being our spiritually highest selves. Once we answer the questions, the next step is to identify what we can contribute to transform any problems.
Partnering for Support and Success
As with many calls to examine our own thoughts and behavior, it is often difficult to do accomplish our goals alone. We might recognize that something needs to be done, but not do it. And so the workbook goes a step further, suggesting that we find a partner to check in with daily between now and Yom Kippur about how we are progressing on our list. This partner is ideally someone who has no personal stake in what you do or do not accomplish, and who will encourage you to think through your options without offering any pointed advice.
Whatever your religious faith, now might be a good time to take on an important area of your life, or several areas, including work, health, and/or relationships. If you transform even one small area, it will have an impact on your own peacefulness and alignment, as well as on the people and communities that surround you.
L’shanah tovah. Wishing you a good year full of sweetness, joy and transformation.