Right Livelihood is taken from the Buddhist teaching of the Eightfold Path to Enlightenment. The path of right livelihood means earning your living in a way that does not cause harm to yourself or others.
There is a difference between Life Purpose and Right Livelihood even though they are often understood as the same thing.
Right Livelihood has as much to do with the way you go about your work as it does the with your given profession.
The reason Right Livelihood is so important is that everything we do can either contributes to or detract from our overall wellbeing. The more conscious you are of yourself, the more you will feel the positive and negative effects of your choices.
If you want to help others in their transformation, whether through being a healer or acting as one, your work is limited or strengthened by a multitude of factors that fall under the umbrella of right livelihood.
In general, I look at spiritual concepts as information that help point the way towards riches that we most need to discover. There are many versions of Right Livelihood across religious and spiritual teachings. I make no claim to the correct ones.
Here are components of the path to Right Livelihood that I think might be useful to you as you move forward in your own pursuit.
- Start with something you love, something you feel passionate about. It’s impossible to create Right Livelihood without basing it on something that inspires your soul. We find passion by doing what we love and are excited by. It’s never too late to connect more fully with our passions.
- Allow for continual growth. You will change over time. To consistently be on your path to Right Livelihood you will need to define, refine, and redefine your knowledge of yourself to stay true to your path. If you can’t grow in connection to your work, then you might have hit a stumbling block on your path to Right Livelihood. Assess the impact that the lack of growth has on you. Sometimes it’s just a comfortable plateau. Other times, it’s a push towards something new.
- What you do needs to be in alignment with who you are. Just because something worked in a certain way for someone else does not mean it will work for you. Your Right Livelihood depends entirely on who you are, how you are made and what you need to learn.
- Do you feel more or less peaceful as a result of your work? Right Livelihood requires that our work creates an inner sense of wellbeing. That means that even if you do something you love, you can do it in a way that creates a lot of distress. If you take the wrong approach to your passion, you’ll wind up feeling stuck. Likewise if you do something that you do not feel good about, you may suffer a sense of restlessness that you need to attend to.
- Our work benefits from balance between our effort and our reward. Balance between our time at work and our time on other activities. When we get out of balance we lose our ability to function optimally.
- It’s not Right Livelihood if it negatively effects others. I’m not talking about a bad day every once in awhile. I’m talking about the small and not-so-small negative impact that your work has on the world. Do you run a sweatshop, underpay people or dump toxic waste in the river? Or, does the organization you work for underpay people, run a sweatshop, or dump waste into the river? These are extreme examples, but more often than not our work has negative impacts on the world. Are you doing your best to make yours impact as positive as possible?
Take a moment to reflect on where you are on your path to creating Right Livelihood. What is something you can do to advance your growth in this area?
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