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Creating New Realities
by Darin Green

Allow me to mention something that will make you squirm: most of our waking life is spent at work. That’s correct. Most of our life is spent making money. When we stop to consider this charming necessity of life, most of us will heave a sigh and utter stoic remarks such as "what else can you do?" or "those are the breaks." But shouldn’t we consider (entertain me for a moment if you will) that we should make the most of our time on this planet? Unfortunately, the vast majority of people believe that life begins outside the confines of the office. Living well, we are taught to believe, can only occur away from work. Yet living well should not be occupational, it should be continuous and ongoing regardless of setting. Quite simply, living well means exuding high energy at work as well as at home. If we have a positive outlook that encompasses both spheres, our differing roles in life compliment each other. Although it is not readily acknowledged, we do create our own realities. If the world is ours to shape, it is up to us to establish an emotionally healthy outlook. Put another way, we have all been taught to believe the maxim that "we are what we eat." Equally, we are what we think. The experiences we consume and the attachments we place onto these factors contribute to our mental health and overall happiness. In order to be happier, we need only consider how we view the experiences that enter our daily lives. Not only are work and "life-outside-work" inextricably tied together, they are also rapidly combining.

By no means am I suggesting that work will always be fun. Undoubtedly, there will be times when we are forced to work with a difficult colleague, someone who’s sole purpose in life seems to be making our own existence miserable. Sadly, we cannot get along with everyone, but what we can do is ensure that difficult people do not rob us of our vital energy supplies. Consider for a moment that your emotions are stored in a bank. Each time you encounter a person, they either add or subtract from your emotional savings account. We all know what happens if we make too many withdrawals from a savings account; similarly, in order to maintain high levels of positive energy, we need to guard against emotional bankruptcy. Difficult colleagues are inevitable at any job, but the level of difficulty they present is entirely up to us. By treating them well, even under situations of duress, we save our own energy levels while simultaneously promoting an atmosphere of heightened friendliness. These suggestions are, I believe, crucial because the society that surrounds us at work is a collage of society outside work. Difficult people are a fact of life, but by honing our "people skills" we gain a greater sense of emotional maturity and balance.

Life becomes more manageable if we apply positive thinking to it. For example, we have all experienced moments at work when we feel burned-out, drained, and gaze at a mousepad for inspiration. This is natural, but, by dwelling on a temporarily unfavorable situation, our negative energy increases, thus robbing us of mental health in other aspects of our lives. Conversely, if we apply positive attitudes to life and work, these obligatory spheres mesh with (rather than conspire against) each other.

Emotional health directly influences physical health. This is better known as stress, a force most of us choose to ignore. Stress can be brought on by a number of factors including: a poor diet, reduced leisure time, money problems, excessive travel, and even noise levels.2 It will come as no surprise that stress leads to ill health and ruins marriages. In fact, our world is so stressful that, since the late 1980s, there has been a divorce every thirteen seconds in the United States.3 Put another way, if an unhealthy attitude at work is brought home, the results can be disastrous.

This, rather conveniently, brings me back to my original point. Just as we work in order to fulfil our marriage roles, so too are we married to the people we work with. Balancing work and life may be the greatest challenge we face, but if we remember the "Big Three" it will become more manageable:
  1. Balancing work and life-outside-work means possessing high energy levels and not allowing difficult colleagues to rule us.
  2. We must apply positive thinking in order to get positive results.
  3. We must be wary of the destructiveness that stress can cause.
I wish that I could tell you there is a magic formula for happiness, but naturally I cannot. However, I can suggest that if you examine your inter-relationships with people at work and at home your reality will be reshaped and you will find a greater sense of purpose and, by extension, peace.

  1. Veroff, Joseph and Sheila Feld. Marriage and Work in America: A Study of Motives and Roles. (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold 1970), p 27.
  2. Cox, Tom. Stress. (London: Macmillan, 1978), pp 153–157.
  3. Riley, Glenda. Divorce: An American Tradition. (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), p 156.
All contents of this article, unless otherwise noted, are ©2003–2004 Darin Green Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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