Why Bother With A Healthy Occupation?

Why Bother With  A Healthy Occupation?

Our mental wellness is tied to managing and caring about all the different aspects of our lives—the emotional and physical self, the spiritual, intellectual, and social self as well as our environment, interpersonal and occupational areas. We are complex creatures and when all of these systems work in congruence to one another, the result is mental stability. But when they are incongruent, acting against one another, chaos reigns. 

Though each of these areas of our mental wellness are interconnected, I thought it wise to break them apart and look at them individually. Today we look at the last item on our long list of the areas that we need to pay attention to for our mental wellness; healthy occupations. 

          Oh The Jobs I’ve Held

While growing up, I didn’t think too much about the future since I liked my present status as a kid.  But I remember my fourth grade  teacher asking the whole class a question that forced me to think beyond childhood and into adulthood. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” She asked while standing in front of the room full of nine and ten year olds. There were plenty of my classmates who wanted to be nurses and doctors, policemen and firemen. So that by the time my turn came I wanted to be something other than what everyone else wanted so I announced, “I want to be the president of the United States.” The laughter echoed off the walls deafening my ears. I guessed my answer was too far-fetched.

Arriving at high school, the counselors put students on two different tracks—those who were college bound and those who were not. I fell in line with all those who were not. Obviously I’d lost sight of my elementary desire to be president. 

While in high school I took a job as a nurse’s aid to earn money for a car. Working as a nurse’s aid was far better than going to high school and I imagined dropping. But my mother would not allow such a thing. When I finally did graduate I pursued other jobs for better pay. Though house painting, house cleaning and waitress jobs were steady and somewhat satisfying because of my earnings, these jobs felt hollow. 

When I turned nineteen, though no one had ever suggested it before, a fellow restaurant worker suggested I try going to college. I was surprised by his idea and later as a student, I was amazed with my ability to succeed. 

My choices for job opportunities broadened and for a short while, I believed working with handicapped preschool children would be my career. But then I fell in love, married and started a family, and my profession changed. Though as a mother, I was not paid any wages, motherhood became my livelihood. It also became the training ground where I learned how to inspire, guide, and encourage others, namely my sons, to maturity. My labor did not feel trivial, but as my sons matured into young men, I could see my job would soon end. Mothering is not a lifelong career. 

I knew my education was not finished and I returned to college. After earning a Bachelor’s degree, I still did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Then one day, while working as a teacher’s aide, it occurred to me that the profession of teaching was calling me and I answered. Once again in the workforce, teaching is my station in life. 

Finding our profession is not necessarily a linear pathway. We may start out going one direction and then shift directions later on. What matters most is that we find satisfaction in where we expend our energy. Our satisfaction or dissatisfaction at work will have a direct impact on our mental wellness. 

Why bother with a healthy occupation? Working at a career that just doesn’t fit is like sucking in our gut into a tight pair of pants. We can do it, but not for very long. On the other hand, working in a healthy occupation, one that “fits” us, is much more enjoyable for the long haul. 

Why Bother To Labor At What You Love?

Why Bother To Labor At What You Love?

At some point in our childhood, all of us were asked the same question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” In other words, how do you plan to generate an income for yourself? The first time someone posed the question to me, I was startled. My teacher’s query pushed me into thinking about adulthood when I preferred to remain in childhood. Eventually though, we all grow up and find a way to support ourselves. Though I did not begin my adult life with any particular vocation in mind, I now get paid to labor at what I love and comes naturally for me; inspiring, guiding, and encouraging others to mature. 

Generating Income

Generating an income is not the whole meaning of life, but even as a kid, I understood that earning a living was how most people purchased the goods and services they needed to live a safe, healthy, and happy life. My parents never paid me an allowance nor did they give monetary rewards for good grades on a report card. If I wanted personal spending money, then it was up to me to find work that paid a salary. I started out as a  babysitter. But babysitting was not my forte. Parents never came back when they said, “We’ll be home by ten.” The hour of their return inevitably came and went. Then there was the unruly child or cranky baby who refused to go to sleep. In a short amount of time, I surmised this type of work was worthy of much higher wages which parents were unwilling to pay. 

Growing a little older, more opportunities opened; service and manual labor. Housecleaning, house painting, nurses aid and waitressing jobs abounded. Though the work was steady and somewhat satisfying, my labor felt hollow. At someone’s suggestion, I extended my high school education, attending a two year college to earn an associate’s degree. My choices for job opportunities broadened and for a short while, I believed working with handicapped preschool children would be my career. But when I fell in love, married and started a family, my profession changed. Though mothers are not paid any wages to train, nurture and love their children, motherhood became my passion. It also became the training ground where I learned how to inspire, guide, and encourage others, namely my sons, to maturity. My labor did not feel trivial, but I could see the end of my job in sight. Mothering is not a lifelong career. 

I knew my education was not finished and someday I would go back out into the work-a-day world. So, when our youngest son entered his second year of high school, I stepped back into the world of college. After earning a Bachelor’s degree, I still did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Then one day, as a teacher’s aide, when I sat next to a student helping them to stay on task, it occurred to me that the profession of teaching was calling to me and I answered. Now, I get paid to labor at what I love and what comes naturally to me; to inspire, guide, and encourage others to maturity. 

Why bother to labor at what you love? It is worth knowing what vocation calls out to you since earning a living is how most of us live safe, healthy, and happy lives.