I’m away for this week at a meditation retreat with Tsoknyi Rinpoche, who I am blessed to be studying with over the next month.
In my absence I want to share something with you written by my friend and teacher, Sharon Salzberg. It’s a beautiful story about the power of opening our hearts and being authentic in the course of conducting our daily activities at work. When I first read this passage it touched my heart. I thought of all the great teachers and mentors who consistently take the time to be there for me as learn and grow. I remembered my mom and grandma as they were in fragile states of health and in need of a helping hand. I imagined all the people at work, right now, who are silently suffering and in need of a friend. And it renewed my strong belief that we can all positively impact the world around us right now from whatever job we have.
This is an excerpt from Real Happiness At Work:
What Is Our Work?
On the job, realization of what matters can come at the least expected moments. Being reminded of our humanity—our personal contribution to the role we’re playing at work—can suddenly return a sense of authenticity, even gratitude, to our life on the job. At the end of a long shift, a car service driver had an epiphany like this when he was called to pick up a customer at her home. He honked the horn and she didn’t come out. It was his last shift of the day, and he thought about just driving away but walked up to the door and knocked instead. After a long pause, the door opened and a small woman in her nineties stood before him “looking like somebody out of a 1940s movie,” he said. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. “Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she asked. He took the suitcase to the cab and then returned to assist the woman. “She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing,’ I told her. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’”
When they got in the cab, she gave him the address and then asked if he could drive through downtown. He told her it wasn’t the shortest way. “Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.” He looked in the rearview mirror. “I don’t have any family left,” she continued in a soft voice. “The doctor says I don’t have very long.” He quietly reached over and shut off the meter. For the next two hours, they drove through the city. She showed him the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. They drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds.
Finally, the woman told him she was tired. They drove in silence to the address she had given him. Two orderlies came out. The driver opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. “How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse. He told her she owed him nothing, then he bent and gave her a hug. She held on to him tightly. “You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.” Afterward, the driver couldn’t stop wondering what if that woman had gotten an angry driver or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if he had refused to take the run or had honked once then driven away? By being authentic on the job, he said he was left with the sense of “never having done anything more important in my life.”
I invite you this week to take a moment and look around you. Be present and aware of all the people you come in contact with throughout your day. Breathe, open your heart, and truly see them as people who, just like you, have hopes and dreams, fears and insecurities, and who, perhaps right now, could really use a warm smile, a big hug or a helping hand. Find the part of you that’s in need of love and nourish that with a tender thought and a deep breath. And then, with your heart full of love, spend this week making it your goal to share that love with one other person each day…
Big hugs to Sharon for sharing her work and to you for sharing your love,
I invite you to read this recent interview I did with Forbes on compassionate leadership: The Growing Business Case for Compassionate Leaders
14 thoughts on “Opening Our Hearts At Work”
wendy st. john-devereaux says:
hello again, Jason
this was a beautiful article, and we thank both you and Sharon for sharing it!
there is such a loving energy that comes in when we read, and think about, things like this…and it makes us want to share even more love with others.
we hope that the retreat will be a wonderful experience for you!
and we want you to know how happy we are for you that you have such wonderful teachers in your life
peace, love, and joy xxoo
wendy and ian
Jason Garner says:
Maintaining the spirit and passion of a student invites so many wonderful teachers to enter our lives. Big hugs – Jason
Kathleen Redford says:
Thank you very much for sharing Sharon’s article, and for Sharon for writing it!
I like the title that sums it up and makes you stop and think. What is our work? Is our work our daily jobs? Or is our work really to spread the love and have compassion for others? To me, the latter is much more important. And it doesn’t even apply just to our job. For me, I work at home in the basement, and have limited contact with other people in the company (with the exception of my husband who’s owns the business). But I do have other interactions with people in my daily life. I drive my kids around constantly so it feels like a full time job. When someone cuts me off while drive, I could get all upset with them, but instead I choose to wish them the best. They might be in a rush for an important reason, one that I don’t know. I tend to let people in while driving…it’s nice, it’s polite and it might in turn make a difference in their lives. It doesn’t matter whether we are at work, at play, or driving around, we all have the opportunity to apply this important lesson, to open our hearts, have compassion for others, and reach a better place of understanding and connecting with people. To in short, share the love. <3 That is the most important job of all. Sometimes it's that small thing in a day that can bring a smile to our face and make us feel at peace.
I hope you have a wonderful time on your retreat!! It sounds like fun. I have never been to one, but would like to go. A friend of mine hosts them…it's a goal to get to one in the next year. Unfortunately, from a medical stand point it's not possible at the present time, but this week we've had more diagnostic results which have pointed us in a direction of fixing the most pressing problem. Still a long and scary road ahead, but such is the way it goes. Meditation has helped keep me grounded and not getting caught up in the roller coaster of emotions involved. Somehow I think I got off topic…have a safe, fun trip!!
Faith, hope and love, Kathleen
Jason Garner says:
Big hugs Kathleen – Jason
Jason: LOVED this! Helps to remind me that the true bottom line is kindness and love. I’m very much into “doing the right thing” especially since my mother’s passing — the little things mean the most to me now and this blog post reinforces this for me. I was always worrying about “el que dira” for many years and it got me nowhere. Having the courage to live in kindness and love offers so much satisfaction and rewards. Feliz Fin de Semana.
Jason Garner says:
Big hugs of love Carmen. – Jason
I think it’s absolutely true but what if they won’t accept it? Send metta, I guess.
Jason Garner says:
Thank you. Yes a great option is to send metta. At the same time we have the invitation to accept the fact some people don’t want our help or outward expressions of love… can we allow that to be okay? For those people space and time may be the silent expression of love they need. And share a hug with someone else who needs and desires it. Big hugs – Jason
Thank you, Jason. You’re absolutely right. And the whole idea of “I’M helping YOU,” can be condescending in itself. There are always plenty of people who care need and want help. Hugs!
Jason Garner says:
Big hugs – Jason
Jane Thorne says:
I hope you have a great month Jason. I loved this post and it’s about awareness isn’t it? No matter what job we do. Big hugs of love to you. Xx
Ray Khelawan says:
Wow! It must be amazing to have all of those people to help you. I never had anyone to help me in jobs…I was always helping myself or helping others. Luckily, my wonderful husband is always there for my and always helps me when i ask.