Work not to run away from yourself – work to realize yourself

Work can be a responsible-seeming way to stay irresponsible. When we become workaholics, we use work to neglect our life’s other important aspects such as our relationships.
We may have dysfunctional relationships at home, but instead of investing the effort necessary to improve those relationships, we may use work as a respectable excuse for running away from those issues. Little do we realize that we are running away from ourselves, from our spiritual potential to find lasting fulfillment. Instead of striving to become better human beings, we slave to become better performers at our workplace and pat ourselves on the back.
But such self-congratulation can’t help us when our loved ones, being repeatedly neglected, leave us – or when our body, long battered by excessive work, refuses to work anymore. Lonely and sickly, we are left with nothing to live for. The Bhagavad-gita (18.24) cautions that excessive work signifies infection by the dark mode of ignorance.
Of course, work itself is not bad. It is an essential means for sustenance (03.08), and it can be a tool to transcendence (18.46) – we can worship the Absolute with our work, thereby attaining perfection.
To help us find work-life balance, Gita wisdom offers a holistic understanding of ourselves. It explains that we are more than our work, because we are more than our bodies and minds that do the work – we are souls who long to love and be loved. We can fulfill that longing by directing it towards the all-attractive, all-loving Supreme, Krishna.
Through such spiritual redirection, the Gita helps us re-envision work as a means to use our God-given gifts, be they talents, interests or positions, in a mood of service to him. By work done as devotional contribution, we come closer to Krishna, realizing ourselves as his eternal blissful parts.