The sixth Buddhist paramita in Sanskrit is virya, which has been translated many ways: exertion, diligence, energy, enthusiasm, joy. The feeling I get is one of happily putting effort into something (traditionally, spiritual practice) even when things are inconvenient or uncomfortable. The idea is to keep on keeping on while finding delight in the journey.

How can I best encourage myself to be that happy worker?

There is power in language. Language leads attitude. Attitude leads emotion. Emotion leads energy. I discover this simply by changing the words I use. If I think to myself, “I have to write a blog post today,” it feels like a chore. It feels like work. Generate ideas and organize them. Wrap words around them. Edit and format and work with the electronics. Sigh, it’s a slogging effort.

A little bit better is to think, “I need to write a blog post.” This, at least, takes responsibility. No one else is making me do this. I’m choosing to do it. I’m being drawn forward by my own inner energy. But the word need adds a sense of desperation. What if I don’t write the post? Using need comes with its own warning. It opens space for judgment, disappointment, and discouragement.

“I want to write a blog post today” gets clearer. No blaming the idea on someone else, not even internal necessity. This is just something I have a desire to do.

But what if “I get to write a blog post today?” Now, it’s not only a choice, it’s a privilege… A celebration. Putting it this way can invite enthusiasm and even joy.

Words invite, and I get to answer their call. [An earlier draft of that sentence was “words invite, but I must answer…” How quickly I get an opportunity to follow my own advice!] Words invite, and it’s up to me to let them grab me by the hand and run giggling into the next sentence, past exertion and diligence into humor, enthusiasm, and joy.

In your journal:

  • write two paragraphs describing a task. In the first, emphasize the dreariness of the effort. In the second, explain how the task can be a privilege and a joy.
  • . Does language really make a difference? Explain why you agree or disagree.
  • What is your spiritual practice? How can you come to it with enthusiasm?
  • What adds joy to your day?
  • Write and play.