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Find greater sense of purpose beyond work

October 09, 2013

THE issue of work-life balance has been discussed in this newspaper (“Work-life balance? ‘Know trade-offs too'”; Sept 25) and in our national conversation, and for good reason.

For many of us, the idea of work-life balance represents the holy grail – where we can have both a gratifying work life and a fulfilling personal life.

What is often overlooked in the debate is that it is ultimately about integration – it is about one life, not two.

No matter how hard we try, we cannot pour a glass filled with water into a second full glass and expect the first glass to remain full, or the second not to spill over and create a watery mess.

Trapped between these two poles, can we guard our lunch and still find the time to eat it? Only if we are willing to revise our expectations of both work and life.

If we define the richness of our lives only by the richness of our wallets, then work-life balance is a pipe dream. We do not live just to work. There is more to life than work. It is about how we choose to live the good life.

This is not something that can be legislated. Each of us will have our own notions of the good life.

What will help us to define the good life are the values the Singapore Kindness Movement espouses – graciousness, gratitude, and generosity. Underpinning those values are a sense of contentment and a refusal to compare and chase after the wind.

If we focus on the dignity of our humanity and the intrinsic value of work, we will find a greater sense of purpose beyond work. If we embrace our common humanity with the values of kindness in the way we live, we will not just live to work but we will work to live.

It is entirely possible for us to guard our lunch – even if the portions aren’t as big as we were used to – and still have the time to savour each bite.

Dr William Wan
General Secretary
Singapore Kindness Movement

First published in Straits Times Forum – October 9, 2013


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