Question: How does one balance work and life, and especially family and children?
Your work has to be lived, and your life has to be worked at. And there is no such thing as work and life, it is life and life. If your work is not life, I don’t see why you should do it. Your work also is life. Would your life happen if there was no work? I am not referring to just the economic aspects. So, work is very much life. Do not make this demarcation that there is something called work and something called life. There are different aspects of life, and they need to be dealt with.
One important thing people can do is, have family conversations regarding various things you are doing at your work. This builds a completely different level of trust and you do not know what insights may come from your family. These are people who are outside observers to your work, but they are people you trust, and who love you and want you to succeed. Their input can be extremely valuable. It may be your wife, it may be your five-year-old child, you don’t know. I know people try to keep work conversations away from family, but I would say that’s a mistake. Why can’t work conversations be interesting if you are creating something? Family could get involved in it and when you are at home, though you may not actually be working hands on, you could still be thinking and evolving ideas for tomorrow or for the future.
Nowadays, I see that the “Thank God it’s Friday” culture, which essentially comes from America, is growing in India too. That means they are dead five days a week and only live on weekends. That is not a good way to live. You must live all the seven days.
The distinction between work and what is considered fun or pleasure is too stark in society today—particularly in the American milieu. Fortunately, it is still not so tight in India. In the US, some people go to office on Friday mornings wearing beach shorts under their trousers. When they come out to the parking lot, they just pull off the trousers because they don’t want to be seen in their pinstripes on a Friday evening—they want to be seen in their beach shorts!
This is mainly because people are suffering their work. One who knows the joy of activity will not want a break. For me, my work is a love affair. If I work 20 hours a day, I don’t feel that something has been taken away from me. If you constantly strive to create whatever you care for, whether you are in a workspace or on the street, you will always feel like you are on a holiday. The physical body needs a break sometimes, but if you need a break from work, that means you are doing something you don’t really care for. If you are doing something you truly care for, why would you want a break? I would like to have 48 hours a day if it was possible, but even a mystic is not given extensions.
People are trying to divide their life so that work is something you do just for money and family is something you do to touch people’s lives. But no matter how much money you earn, if you find your husband, wife or children are not touched by what you do, suddenly everything seems meaningless. Somewhere in your life, you want people to be touched by the activity you perform. For example, if you were to make a film, would you want to do it if no one wanted to watch it? Or build a house that no one would want to live in? You would not want to produce something no one wants to use. In some way, you long to touch people’s lives. This aspect need not restrict itself to family alone. It can extend itself into every area of life.
Work is not just about the money that you receive, it is about the privilege that you have been allowed to create something. Money is a means for our survival, and to that extent it is necessary. However, you must always assess yourself in terms of whatever you are being asked to do. What is the level of responsibility that is being offered to you? What is the opportunity for you to create something truly worthwhile, both for yourself and for everyone around you? Any work that you do in the world is truly worthwhile for you only if you are able to touch people’s lives deeply.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is the founder of Isha Foundation.