Calm is in you, in everyone

Adam Grant, a Wharton School of Business professor who studies how people find meaning at work, would argue that it does not. Grant points out that those who consistently rank their jobs as meaningful have something in common: they see their jobs as a way to help others. In a survey of over 2 million individuals across over 500 different jobs, those who reported finding the most meaning in their careers were clergy, English teachers, surgeons, directors of activities and education at religious organizations, elementary and secondary school administrators, radiation therapists, chiropractors, and psychiatrists. These jobs, Grant writes, are all service jobs. Surgeons and chiropractors promote physical health. Clergy and religious directors promote spiritual health. Educators promote social and mental health. If these jobs didn’t exist, other people would be worse off. Grant’s research offers a clue about how people working in any sector can find purpose at work–by adopting a service mindset. In one study, Grant and his colleagues tracked a group of university-call-center fundraisers who each met a student whose scholarship was being funded by their work. Watch I Love Lucy reruns Ride your bicycle Rent Rollerblades Go to a baseball game Start a pillow fight Play board games Tickle someone Have a staring contest Throw a costume party Go to an animal-free circus

There are so many factors that can affect how early labour goes. It’s unpredictable, which can be frustrating. We all want to know `Is this it? Sometimes early labour can build in momentum and it becomes obvious that this really is it, but at other times early labour can tail off – everything grinds to a halt and it becomes obvious that this is not it. It’s common for early labour to be a bit stop-start. For some people early labour can last many days, with surges picking up and then petering out; Both scenarios have pros and cons. A labour that establishes itself very quickly can be quite intense from the offset with no gradual build-up, giving you less time to get your space sorted and practise relaxation exercises. A speedy labour can feel like a bit of a whirlwind, so, much as everyone dreams of a fast labour, there are definitely pros to a slower buildup. If you have a longer early labour, try your best to relax and enjoy it. Valentine’s Day is often promoted as the best day of the year to express romantic love. But I recently heard about a perfectly sweet way to remind friends that they are special and loved, too: have a chocolate party. Invite friends to come over for a fun-filled evening of chocolate making. Gather ingredients to make fudge, toffee, and truffles–along with toppings like pecans, peanuts, sprinkles, chocolate chips, marshmallows, and raisins. Share chocolate recipes and tips. Before the evening comes to a close, fill Chinese take-out boxes with the chocolates, so that everyone goes home with sweet treats to eat and to share (if any chocolate makes it home). My friend’s uncle recently passed away. Knowing that her aunt would be missing him as Valentine’s Day approached, she and her kids made a special card. They pasted a picture of themselves on the front (cut in the shape of a heart) and the kids wrote, We love you sooooooo much, Aunt Suzanne. They filled the envelope with heart confetti, and when she opened the note, her world (the floor, her lap, the desk–everywhere) was filled with love.

These callers took on a different attitude toward their jobs: seeing how their work affected another person’s life made the fundraisers become much more purposeful–and more effective–compared with a control group. They spent 142 percent more time on the phone with potential donors and raised 171 percent more money. In a study led by Jochen Menges, Grant and his colleagues discovered a similar phenomenon among women working at a coupon-processing factory in Mexico. Typically, workers who do not find their jobs interesting are less motivated and purposeful, and so are less productive on the job. Processing coupons can be dull and repetitive, so you might expect the women at the factory who found the job boring to be less productive than those who found it rewarding. That, indeed, is what Grant and Menges found. But that trend was reversed among a certain subset of women–those who adopted a service mindset. The women who found their work dull were just as productive and energized as those who found it rewarding, but only if they saw their work as a way to support their families. Even the most tedious tasks can be made purposeful when they benefit the people you love. Parents perhaps know the value of a service mindset better than anyone. Have a tea party Go to an ice cream shop Bake cookies Blow bubbles Play miniature golf Go to the batting cages Watch people at shopping malls Go to an amusement park Paint with watercolors Rent a sailboat

This is a great opportunity to practise your relaxation, knowing that your body is doing its thing. Place your trust in your body and your baby, and focus on the fact that you will be meeting your baby soon. Every surge is doing something – none is wasted. This can be a very calm, gentle and magical time. At some point, however, the surges will build in three ways: frequency, duration and intensity. You need all three elements to come together for labour to be considered established. You want the surges to be coming approximately three in ten, which, remember, means three surges in each ten-minute period, and for that pattern to be well established – the `frequency’ element. You also want each surge to last between forty-five seconds and a minute – that’s the `duration’ element. Finally, you want the surges to be nice and strong! There’s no point in having lots of mild surges for hours and hours that are not very effective. Don’t reserve Valentine’s Day for romantic, passionate love only. Make it a day to say I love you to all the people in your life, including yourself. Place a heart-shaped chocolate on a coworker’s desk; We’ve all heard about Cupid, the Roman god of love. He was believed to enjoy spreading love and matching up couples who were meant to be. Today, he still lives in Valentine’s Day celebrations and expressions all over the world. Perhaps you see him in illustrations on greeting cards (with his bow and arrow), or on the top of a box of chocolates, or printed on a pair of boxer shorts. You can bring Cupid into your love life by drawing a heart on the bathroom mirror with soap and filling it with the initials of you and your loved one, or write I LOVE YOU on a steamed-up window. Pen your loved one a poem and leave it on the steering wheel of his or her car (I’ll bet you’ll get an extra kiss when he or she gets home). Make a Valentine’s Day card out of your favorite paper, or cut letters out of a magazine to spell out I love you in many languages.

Raising children is one of the most stressful but crucial jobs a person can have–and though children can be a source of joy, an oft-cited finding from the psychological research on parenting is that raising kids makes parents unhappy. Parents sacrifice their personal time and space for their children, they lose sleep as a result of their kids, and they are constantly engaged in tiring tasks like changing diapers and enforcing discipline. At the same time, though, many studies show that raising children is a powerful source of meaning. As one mother told me, It’s blood and guts and makes me want to pull out my hair sometimes. But, she added, it is also tremendously rewarding. Parenting gives people an opportunity to put aside their own interests for the sake of another. All of the difficult and tedious work of being a parent lies in the service of a larger purpose–helping a child grow into a responsible adult. In the final paragraph of Middlemarch, the novelist George Eliot pays a tribute to those individuals who keep the world moving forward in small yet indispensable ways: The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; Those many millions of people, though they may not be remembered or known by you and me, made a difference for the people they encountered in their daily lives. The ability to find purpose in the day-to-day tasks of living and working goes a long way toward building meaning. Go on a picnic Make up lists of fun and playful things to do According to Vedic science, the purpose of life is the expansion of happiness. Creation is a marvelous divine play that assigns each of us a different role. The Sanskrit word for this play is leela. You can take your role very seriously and miss life’s magic, or you can recognize that you are eternal Spirit disguising yourself as an actor and celebrate the leela. Not taking life or yourself too seriously does not mean being irresponsible. In actuality, if you recognize the cosmic play you become more responsible, for you see every thought, word, and action as an expression of the divine playwright. Relish the magic and the mystery in every moment. Laughter is a symptom of spirituality.

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