Career Calling

April 9, 2012

Sabbath, April 8, 2012

Filed under: Sabbath — claycerny @ 1:08 am
Tags: , , , , ,

[On Sundays, this blog ponders life and work in “Sabbath.”]


For Christians, Easter signifies the highest level of faith and hope.  The holiday is marked by Spring flowers and metaphors of life renewed.  For all of us, regardless of our beliefs and philosophies, hope is the foundation of personal and professional success.  We will all face challenges and obstacles.  Hope gives us the strength to move forward even when we want to quit or give in to despair.

The last few years have brought despair to many Americans.  Unemployment, wage cuts, falling home prices, and unending wars, the list of problems seems almost endless.  Some people quit when they hit the wall.  They stop looking for work or, worse still, take some action (drinking, gambling) that makes their problems worse.  When asked what is wrong, they blame outside forces for their problem.  They speak in a language in which they have no power over their fate, the kind of thinking that Martin Seligman calls “learned helplessness.”  For at least five years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001, some of my clients blamed this event for their problems finding work.  Now, as the job market is showing positive growth, some people still say it is “impossible” to find a job in this economy.  This language of hopeless never leads to success.

The good news is that most people don’t fall into this trap.  They remain optimistic even when things don’t go their way.  Their attitude enables them to keep looking for a new job knowing that there are four job seekers for every open position.  I’m often amazed when clients tell me stories about how they were treated by a boss or how hard they worked only to get laid off.  Rather than give in to bitterness, they look forward and say tomorrow will be a better day.

Can we learn hope?  Is hope as much a skill as an attitude?  I believe that people can change their attitudes and outlook if they put things in the proper context.  Viktor Frankl, who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, survived Nazi death camps.  He went on to develop a branch of psychology, logotherapy, based on this principle: We cannot control our fate; however, we can choose our attitudes in understanding our situation and the actions we take in moving forward.  Frankl believed that we bring meaning to our lives.  Successful people find a way to keep hope even in the darkest times.  Henry Ford had a similar belief: “If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Easter could be called the Sabbath of all Sabbaths.  It is a great day to take some time and reflect on the good things we have, the resources that let us keep faith in the future.  Every day, the media bombards us with negative stories.  If we just went by the “news” we get from TV, radio, newspapers, and the Internet, it would seem that the world is a miserable place.  The good news is that most people look beyond the gloom.  We look forward to better days even when things seem impossible.  As the Spring bears new life, hope renews us.

Sunday Extra:

1.  In today’s Daily Kos, Denise Oliver Perez explores the pagan roots of Easter.

2.  Wendell Berry wrote these words – a great Easter message – in his third Sabbath poem of 1983:

May our kind live to breathe

Air worthy of the breath

Of all singers that sign

In joy of their making,

Light of the risen year,

Songs worthy of the ear

Of breathers worth their air,

Of makers worth their hire.


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