A life of purpose – does the way we are educated affect our attitude towards life?

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A life of purpose – does the way we are educated affect our attitude towards life?

How does the way we are educated affect the kind of attitude we have towards our jobs and work generally? Is it possible that the way we are taught to approach learning, work and careers sets us up to be very unsatisfied in life?

Research released late last year shows that only 13% of employees – sampled from more than 140 countries – are ‘engaged’ in their jobs, invested in or focussed on helping work places to improve.[1]

It also shows that 63% of people are ‘not engaged’ – or simply unmotivated and unlikely to exert extra effort – whilst the remaining 24% are ‘actively disengaged’ or truly unhappy and unproductive.

This research confirms the reality I have seen in day-to-day life that for many, work is simply a way to earn money to get by, and that life is lived in anticipation of the nights out, the weekends and the yearly holiday. The thing is that it not only causes problems for the companies with decreasing productivity, increasing sick leave and absenteeism from work, but it also has a knock-on effect for the country and the world as a whole. The products and services offered by each company are affected by the quality in which the staff works, and this in turn affects the customers.

If the businesses that make up a country – in fact, the world – are built on a foundation of 87% of their workers not being engaged, or worse, actively disengaged in their jobs, this has to be having a negative impact on every aspect of our society and life.

This attitude to work also has a personal effect because when you have no real purpose to what you do in life, why get up in the morning?

Is it any surprise so many people struggle to sleep, or that so many people are partying and drinking much harder – perhaps to escape everyday life? When we consider the fact that most people will work a 5-day week for the majority of their lives, and therefore on average spend about one third of their life at work,[2] could we then look at the rapidly increasing rates of suicide and consider that 87% of people not happy at work could be a contributing factor?

Could this begin as far back as childhood?

Not only are we taught through the education system to focus on short term goals like passing an exam rather than the lifelong building of satisfaction and joy, but we are taught that our worth is measured both by how well we do in these exams, and also where we go after school . . . the university we choose, or the career.

We are set up to be almost unavoidably disappointed because of the way choosing a career is approached, which is often from the point of view of either money, social standing, and what those around you want you to do or, at the best of times, what you are good at or think you may enjoy. Work in hospitality, coffee shops, restaurants and supermarkets has supplied many with their first jobs and also many with their chosen successful careers.

The issue is, if we are raised to see being an academic as the only success then nothing else can ever match up.

The constant pressure that the next generation needs bigger and better education and needs to do bigger and better things than the last is setting up really massive expectations that cannot be met. We need people to work the checkouts, we need people to learn the hands-on skills of plumbing and building to name just a few. Without them, we would be a population of high-powered workers with blocked drains and nowhere to buy food. We need everyone: the lorry drivers, lawyers, cashiers, CEOs, cleaners, doctors, nurses, etc.

Another problem is that children and teens get so little exposure to the actual working environments they are thinking of entering that, in reality, they haven’t got a clue about what they are going into and what the job looks like on an everyday, routine basis. The education system often doesn’t have the support and space to prepare children for real life, both on the purely practical level of:

  • How to get a mortgage, pay taxes or open a bank account

and on a more personal human level:

  • How to be respectful with people

  • How to work in a team without competition, comparison and jealousy

  • How to have rich and loving relationships

  • How to raise children lovingly

  • How to look after and care for yourself

. . . and this list also goes on.

Children are educated to get good grades, to perform and to make the schools look good with high-percentage grades. How are these young people prepared in any way for the real world?

When your career is chosen based on goals such as these, it doesn’t give you a purpose, a reason for wanting to do that job that is meaningful, or a sense of what you can bring to the world by doing that job.

Thanks to being a student of Universal Medicine, I have grown up with the support and guidance to connect to and know who I am and, through that knowing, be able to feel and express what strengths and qualities I bring to the world: my love of people, my ability to communicate things very effectively, my initiative, my true teamwork and leadership skills and my innate love and understanding of certain subjects. These are the core elements of true education.

Now these qualities might just sound like stuff people write on a CV, but I have felt and seen how they are part of me and the way I naturally work. I have been given opportunities to do work experience in all the different work environments I was interested in, to get a real life taste of what I might be doing. And most importantly, the way careers were discussed in my family and with friends was not to do with salary or what would make my mum proud, but about what each line of work brought to the world – be it the amazing work of a lawyer, who represents truth and who can bring a stop moment and a rebalancing, or a nurse who can provide the true loving care needed for someone who is sick, or a cleaner who lays the groundwork and foundation by cleaning so that the building runs smoothly and everyone else can do their job.

No one is more or less important than another, each job bringing something very needed to the world without which the world couldn’t run.

By seeing work from this perspective, and feeling where my strengths would be best expressed, I gain a sense of purpose no matter what I am doing, and it means that I have enjoyed working from a young age and continue to do so.

Some may say I have ‘only’ worked in a coffee shop, but I recognise the impact I had when I worked there just by talking to all the people I saw, and being myself, smiling and caring, touching people’s lives and serving a great cup of coffee to go with it. And now as a receptionist I have the opportunity to equally express my love of people and also my love of organisation through administration, being the loving first point of contact and also the support to allow the business to run smoothly.

Looking at my work in this way gives my life purpose and I don’t live for my days off or my holiday. It actually makes me want to go to work and commit to my job because I know and appreciate that my presence in that job makes a difference.

Can you imagine the potential we would have if we had a whole workforce with the same motivation – not to earn more money or retire early, but a wanting to work to make a positive difference in the world because of the work they do?

Could you imagine if we raised and educated our children to understand that no matter what they do, or what level of education they get, they matter, and will bring their particular, essential contribution to life?

And there are life-building and truly affirming goals, like growing up to be joyful and living a life full of love, that needs to be the bedrock foundation that we build everything else upon – including our careers.


  • [1]

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2013/10/10/only-13-percent-of-people-worldwide-actually-like-going-to-work/

  • [2]

    https://www.reference.com/math/percentage-lives-spent-working-599e3f7fb2c88fca

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EmpowermentWork life balanceYouthTeenagersTeachersEducation

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