I love good questions. Received this one yesterday:
“What is ‘gainful employment’ — how should we be defining it?”
Well, the word ‘should’ sends up red flags for me, and I prefer to answer with another question, not to dodge the issue, but to better frame it: How do you want to define it? What can our gainful employment be about?
Focus on what you truly want
‘Want’ reckons with a more personal and individual desire so we can narrow things down, and better focus on a more helpful answer, because ‘gainful employment’ is pretty big, with options possible in both the employment part of it (the differences between job, occupation, career, vocation is just a start) and in what ‘gainful’ means to us. What do we want to gain?
“This is the true joy in life ” being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one ” being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy ” I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing on to future generations.”
— George Bernard Shaw
This “true joy in life” Shaw describes is inspiring to me, and I’m impatient — it’s something I want now, and not later. Thus, my answer is that I want to gain the feelings of well-being possible in Ho‘ohana work versus a job. I work on that first as my driver, simultaneously working to have it pay off (with income that will sustain my lifestyle: Prepping for Ho‘ohana with Financial Literacy).
But that’s my answer. It’s great for me, and hopefully Ho‘ohana can become great for you (it’s my core how-to theme here on Talking Story), but it’s not what everyone looks for at any given time, or feels they need. And it’s okay to look for other things — it’s your work, after all is said and done, and not mine. You know what it will take to help you feel good about the work you do.
So again, how do you want to define it? What is your relevance in defining what gainful must mean for you?
Have reasonable expectations
What you have to be aware of however, is that when you work for someone else, they pay you to work with, and for them, and the question becomes “How do we want to define it?” with the answer up to them more than up to you. When you accept a job with them, you agree. That’s just the way it is.
You still do have a choice of course. Choose the right job (yes, even in the current economy — don’t be a willing victim; a lesser job fit now should be temporary as you keep looking). It’s right enough for you, because you largely do agree with the definition of gainful employment your employer offers you in his or her company.
We usually talk about that choice as a choice of values you’ll subscribe to, because deeply held values drive the m.o. of a company; they can be a kind of guarantee of predictable behavior in the workplace.
But if that gets confusing for you — you aren’t sure what their values are, or they aren’t as apparent as they could be — the focus on what you want to gain can help you. Make your search for gainful employment personal. It will be the work you do.
If you can be specific (and honest with yourself) about what ‘gainful’ means to you, the employment options available are likely to become increasingly clear. You can then ask yourself, “Will this employment prospect deliver what I want to gain?” about each prospect coming your way.
When the right options become clearer for you (in this mirror of what you truly want), your choices get much easier along the journey.
Whatever your answers, work on what feels right for you personally. Trust in your gut feelings and intuition about it. Keep in mind the fact that gainful employment connects to your energy, like a battery pack, for your own energy is the most important resource you have (it helps you gain everything else).
Then, when you want to work within Ho‘ohana, I’ll be here to help.
~ ~ ~ MY MANA‘O (what I believe to be true) ~ ~ ~
In Hawai‘i, many kÅ«puna (elders) will say there is a reason our gut is at our physical center.
Our heads and hearts must come lower; one must get out of the clouds and the other out of the clutches of others.
Second, the elemental feeling we get from the land under our feet must rise up and be held in higher esteem, for there is divine power in the ‘āina (the earth), and it is our sense of place, and our home.
Third, we must care about others, but we must care about ourselves first, and enough to connect to our own source, our Aloha.
So it is only natural that our gut (na‘au) is the true seat of our wisdom (na‘auao), for it is where all these things come together to center us with good balance. Trusting in our intuition, is a form of listening as we should, to tap into that balance (which is pono).
This makes a lot of sense to me, because I experience it so much, and very gratefully so.