One of the steps on the 8-fold path of Buddhism is the concept of right livelihood. In general terms, this means that we’re supporting ourselves in a way that is healthy for us physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and morally. For too many people in today’s world, however, the job that they’re doing (often employment for someone else) violates one of those principles. Right livelihood is vital to the wellness wheel. When we look at the work wellness wheel (a subset of the main wellness wheel),this belief is built right into each section.

The work wellness wheel contains sections for physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental, and financial health, as well as social. Therefore, if we’re not following a right livelihood, we will be impacting at least one of those areas. Of course, in some respects we aren’t able to choose the work we want to do. For many of us who don’t fit into society’s boxes (or especially capitalism’s boxes), the work which can sustain us in a healthy manner may be out of reach. Therefore, it’s important to understand how the concept of right livelihood intertwines with the wellness wheel so that we can do the best we can, given our individual circumstances.

Let’s break down the various parts of right livelihood.

  • Physically healthy – The work doesn’t endanger our health, cause us physical pain, or make any physical conditions worse.
  • Emotionally healthy – The work environment isn’t toxic. You are not abandoned. You are supported where necessary and not subject to workplace abuse or gaslighting. You are not abused by customers.
  • Spiritually healthy – The work you do doesn’t violate any of your spiritual beliefs and you do not work with people whose spiritual beliefs are forced upon you.
  • Environmentally healthy – The environment in which you work doesn’t cause you sensory overwhelm, physical issues (such as hearing loss or having to stand your entire shift), and the work culture is one that doesn’t cause harm.
  • Financially healthy – You’re paid what you are worth and if you are not a cis white hetero male, you are paid equal to what a cis white hetero male would be paid.

Putting all of those together sounds like a “goldilocks” kind of job. And in some ways that can be true. However, it’s important to assess each of those areas and make sure that you are doing the right livelihood for you. This will support not just your work wellness, but also your overall wellness.

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