I have a friend who often describes his job as “soul-sucking.”  That is, a little piece of his soul dies every time he goes to work.  Sound familiar?  I imagine that many of us sometimes feel the same way, and we often either write those feelings off as fleeting, or, worse, simply assume that sometimes jobs must, in fact, diminish our soul.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In his excellent book, Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore comments that not only does beauty help the soul in its peculiar way of being, but that the impact we feel in a moment of beauty sufficiently eases us out of our usual rush to get things done.  Moore argues that this kind of momentary reflection on beauty feeds our souls, which reminds us of the depth of our imagination.

In our bustling workplaces, we experience the lack of beauty continually, for a variety of reasons.  We might work in a gray, drab building with gray, drab offices and cubicles.  The work itself might be challenging in its repetitiveness.  Or perhaps we’re so overloaded with tasks and activity that we simply do not find the time to feel beauty.

Moore defines beauty, for the soul, as “the quality in things that invites absorption and contemplation.”  That can be brought by us to our everyday experience, and can certainly be applied to our jobs.  Here’s what I mean.

Let’s assume that beauty can be found in moments, like in a sunset or in the way light reflects off of the snow and ice on my rental car in the current 5-degree Colorado weather (true story).  There must, then, be opportunities to find beauty in our jobs.  Here are some examples of the beauty you can find and create in your daily job:

  1. Where you sit and do your work.  The objects we sit on and in front of often contain hidden beauty.  The desk I’m using right now, for example, is long, white, and perfectly smooth.  It looks really cool in the room.  What about yours?
  2. A well-crafted document.  Beauty isn’t limited to things made by others.  A colleague recently made an announcement for a Holiday party, and the poster she designed was just striking.  The colors, fonts, and white space all spoke to me, interrupting my zombie-like trudge through my emails.
  3. Your morning coffee.  Few things are as important in an office as the morning coffee, right?  On Monday morning, get your cup, and set in on your desk.  Watch the steam swirl into the air; what shapes does it make?  Or place it by the window, and notice the sunlight changing the texture of the coffee’s surface.  Allow the beauty of the moment to invite contemplation.

Those are just three quick examples, but I think they can make a difference in your daily experience of work.  What others can you think of?

My friend still finds his job disappointing.  But by taking moments to appreciate beauty as it already exists, he recently told me, he doesn’t feel as strongly that work portends the coming zombie apocalypse.