Setting Preferences Aside

I work a job at which we choose when we want to work. After choosing a shift, we can cancel up to 45 minutes beforehand, and arrive up to 59 minutes late, without any repercussions. We receive a flat rate of $54 for work that is estimated to take 3 hours; whether we finish earlier (which is common) or (on the rare occasion) later, we receive that same $54. There is absolutely no punishment for finishing late, with the only stipulation being that each route needs to be completed by 9 pm. Despite these amazingly fair conditions, I regularly hear my fellow drivers complaining while awaiting their workload at the dock. 

Surely, the majority of us would prefer the easiest amount of work to do in the same time frame. But in this instance, without any negative consequence coming from our employer for finishing the work later than our scheduled shift, the only thing that is punishing us is our own mind.

For instance, we could voluntarily move at a slower pace, take it easy, stop for a snack, nap, pause to enjoy a beautiful view, post a pic to social media, take a phone call, etc without any concern for our job security whatsoever. The only variable that is changing dependent on how much time we take is the rate per hour, which in this case is an entirely mental construct (it's a great construct when we finish early, but a horrible one if we finish late!) But it's mental constructs like these, if we focus on them and them alone, that actually give rise to our own suffering. 

So then, if along our route we should encounter a challenging delivery, if we haven't any hard deadlines or fear of repercussions, what, other than our own mind and preferences, could cause stress to arise? 

Of course these job conditions are rare, but how often do we allow ourselves to needlessly get worked up about things in our day to day lives, all because of how we mentally construct how things should be versus how they actually are?

When we can see how the way we think affects the way we feel, we are in the priceless position of being able to begin maneuvering our way out of suffering. We come to understand that we actually have a choice as to which thoughts we entertain and those that we don't. We also realize, perhaps to our surprise, that true happiness doesn't necessarily arise on account of all of our preferences being met, but rather, on many occasions, happiness results by setting them aside.

Mindfulness is the means, and meditation the means to mindfulness.