Bliss Engine Lessons from Zorba the Greek

Posted by Jenny Blake

I’m excited to share one more excerpt of my dad’s new book, The Bliss Engine, today — this one is particularly relevant for those of you in a job that you might not love at the moment — and isn’t that all of us from time to time?

As a reminder, for the next three days (until July 31) if you forward your receipt of purchase of The Bliss Engine ($2.99 on Kindle) to receipt [at] theblissengine.com, you’ll get complimentary access to my two-week course The Acorn Project ($15) to help you dream and scheme for the road ahead. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on today’s wisdom from Daddy-O! 

The Bliss Engine Excerpt: Zorba (by Jim Blake)

Zorba the Greek - BookIs your day a series of steppingstones of sensory gratification or is it a series of spiritually infused achievements? Do you alternate all day long between eating junk food and working as if you were a lab rat? What if your work was transformed into something blissful so work itself is your reward? You would no longer be leaping across steppingstones but swimming is a sea of delight.

Consider Zorba the Greek. I read Zorba during my early days of Basic Training at Fort Lewis. Zorba has a great, bliss-nurturing attitude. His mind is a birthplace of bliss and his bliss radiates to all who work with him. He brings enthusiasm to every task. Zorba did not judge some tasks worthy and some beneath his interest. If there was work to be done, it received his passionate effort.

I peeled potatoes and scrubbed pots and pans on k.p. (kitchen patrol) for hours enjoying every minute. My happiness annoyed the drafted attorney, tagged from his internship with his U.S. Senator. It annoyed the disgruntled schoolteacher sitting nearby, leaning over his big tub of spuds. I scrubbed pots and pans as if there was nothing I would rather be doing.

Fellow soldiers rarely gave their all to mundane government work unless it was sucked out of them in battle. I didn’t politicize the potatoes. I was savoring each moment like Zorba. Those moments could have been my last. One carries bliss to the task at hand. If one waits for a worthy activity, one may as well be waiting for Godot.

If work takes your precious time, it is worth enthusiastic effort.

Activate bliss to animate “crap” jobs. Every task has its integrity unless it is herding people to a gas chamber. If you keep your bliss rpm at a high level, you will be prepared to apply it to your life work, your art, your science.

If you pick and choose places to do your best, opportunity may elude you.

There are few innately unworthy tasks in the normal course of life. Savor the beauty of a big pot of potatoes, apples of the earth, peel them with vigor and commitment, scrub the grease-encrusted pans with all your heart. Don’t fear ending up a pot washer for life because you have directed your precious energy to the ordinary.

Unglamorous effort has a way of enriching rather than trapping you; stay revved.

Bill Spooner, rock and roll mastermind, founder of The Tubes, is an excellent songwriter, arranger and a great guitar player. Bill was the music director-guitar wizard in my band Mr. Gasoline for two years. We played a few dives, but no gig was a throwaway for Bill. He played as masterfully in the basement dives for an audience of ten as he did for 100,000 screaming fans at Knebworth. Bill had the spirit of Zorba.

Don’t wait for bliss, track it down and harness it to all of your tasks, allow it to fill your heart wherever you are no matter what you are doing.

Great ideas sneak up on you, be prepared. Mundane tasks are a good time to plan and dream.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments:
How will you make the most of the mundane this week?

  • Susan P. Cooper

    Scrubbing potatoes for one may be a passion and for another may be a misery. I try to look every task I do with enthusiasm. :-)

    • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

      Love it, Susan! It really is a great reminder to return to basics and make the most of the small moments in life…

  • Dana Sitar

    This is so great, and just what I needed to hear on the busy Monday of a week where my mundane day job will be sucking an unusual amount of time away from the innately rewarding wirk of building my own business and freelance work. Thank you to Jim for the important reminder, and to Jenny for sharing!

    • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

      Thanks Dana! I so appreciate you reading and always leaving such thoughtful comments :) Mondays are tough! It’s so easy to get overwhelmed, especially when you’re managing a day job. I used to always remind myself that the day job was funding my dreams, which was a LOT to be thankful for. That got me through those rough days, but man – they will still creep in! This is a great reminder for me too to shift my perspective on the things I complain about…and to minimize complaining in general :)

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