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Are You Moving Bricks or Building a Cathedral?

Finding purpose in everyday life

Do you hate your job? I recently read something that really got me thinking: most things are made by people who don’t enjoy making them. Statistically, I have no idea whether this is true, but it’s certainly possible. I’m sitting here on a chair, in an apartment, typing on a keyboard. It seems reasonable that the people who manufactured these physical objects weren’t especially fulfilled while building them.

This problem can likely be extended throughout each of our daily lives. Many people resent going to the gym, washing the dishes, or doing laundry. Laundry! The bane of my existence. Writing this article may even be a sneaky way to procrastinate beginning the inevitable cleaning of dirty clothes that I must undertake today.

Does cleaning this look fun to you?

If you think about it, many people spend the majority of their lives doing things they don’t want to do. For those who despise their jobs, it’s unsettling to realize that weekdays comprise 71% of our lives. The weekend offers a break, but there’s work to be done on the weekend as well. We clean the house, mow the lawn, or do…laundry.

In isolation, all of these menial tasks seem unfulfilling and boring. Our jobs are repetitive. When I was a lawyer, I would talk on the phone with clients, write documents, and research. That was it.

Many jobs are more monotonous. Consider a bricklayer. Every day, he or she clocks in at the same time and puts one brick on top of another for hours at a time. The bricklayer is helping to build a cathedral, so the physical location will remain constant for quite awhile. Every day is the same. Sound familiar?

Sometimes life can feel like we are laying brick after brick, day after day 

Suppose you were to ask two bricklayers what they were doing. The first replies: ”I’m moving bricks.” Reasonable answer. However, the second bricklayer explains: “I’m building a cathedral.”

These two people are doing the exact same job, yet their outlook couldn’t be more different. While both are laying bricks, the second bricklayer has a clear sense of purpose. He is motivated. He understands why the bricks must be laid. The first bricklayer sees monotony and is bored. The second bricklayer sees beauty and is inspired.

With the end result in mind, each brick means a little bit more.

We need to act like bricklayer number two. We must spin our situations so that we see the ultimate goal of why we act. If you are a server at a restaurant, try to think about how you are providing an excellent experience for the patron. You can brighten their day. If you work in a factory manufacturing jet engines, realize that you are part of a system that allows people to travel all across the world. If you are a banker, know that helping businesses raise money can lead to entrepreneurs accomplishing their dreams.

We can do this in our personal lives as well. Perhaps you and your significant other both hate doing dishes. By cleaning them yourself, don’t see it as merely “doing the dishes” — try to look at it as doing something kind which strengthens the relationship. If you hate exercise, don’t just see it as sweating uncomfortably — see it as a way to help you feel better and perform at a higher level in all aspects of your life. Learning a new skill may be tedious at first, but if you understand the purpose of why you are learning, the process becomes infinitely more enjoyable.

When doing something you don’t particularly like, realize you are helping someone in the process.

Our lives are massive cathedrals that are the result of innumerable small decisions and tasks. By acting with purpose and understanding, we can get more enjoyment out of our everyday lives. We’ll also perform better. When someone loves their work, their passion shines through the final product. Brick by brick, we can create a life that we’re proud of. Alright, time for me to go start that laundry.

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