Finding Purpose Through Constant Work
Fighting the Invisible Monster: 3 Vital Ways Constant Work Saves Our Souls
Most of us are haunted by a simple yet noble question from the day we are born until we die: “Why are we here?” This thought is both perplexing and profound, with a million different answers that could be correct, but are they the right ones, and are they the best for ourselves? As creatures belonging to the same Homo sapiens species, there are some ambitions that are found in almost every single one of us, such as love, success, and happiness.
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A study published in the Journal of Psychology and Education in 2018 interviewed children aged 7-18 years old from India and found that the most common themes in their responses to the question of the meaning of life were happiness, love, and success. Another study from the Journal of Humanistic Psychology in 2003 interviewed children aged 8-12 years old from diverse cultural backgrounds and found that their responses to the question of the meaning of life included themes such as relationships, personal fulfillment, and spiritual beliefs.
For adults, it is still quite similar: a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2017 found that among U.S. adults, the most commonly cited sources of meaning in life were family (69%), career (34%), and money (23%). Other sources of meaning cited included spirituality/religion, hobbies, and friends.
As animals with ultra-complex brains living in convoluted societies, the parameters that can influence our ambitions are infinite, but I want to share the most important one in my opinion and experience. Like I always tell my friends, “If you want to lower your expense costs, focus first on the things you spend the most on and work your way down.”
What I want to talk about today is W.O.R.K. Yes! That thing that most of us hate, that we dream of escaping, and that we believe controls our lives in evil ways. In fact, the honest answer is that without work, we would be completely lost and probably already extinct by now. From my personal experience, not so long ago, I found myself rejoicing for the very first time on my last day at work. For the first time in my life, I had as much time on my hands as I wanted to do whatever I pleased. Of course, the first couple of weeks were amazing, full of fun, celebration, and relaxation. But, most importantly, a feeling crept up in the back of my brain like an illness, eating up little by little every aspect of my life. That feeling was being meaningless, having no great fight, no great sacrifice. Feeling meaningless is particularly dangerous because it is very easy to fall into a vicious cycle, turning around lamentation, guilt, self-hate, and low self-esteem, digging us deeper into the hole of inactivity. Each time it is harder to see the light and the way back, so we lament and cocoon sadly, even more.
To fight against this invisible monster, I bring up today three vital ways constant work saves our souls from meaningless depression.
When we get our lazy hands to work, which could be anything you can imagine, from a classic 9-5 job to our dream photography project, apart from the daily satisfaction of being tired (yes, it is probably unconscious), our mental health is really having a ball. By working on something bigger than us, that takes time, effort, and perseverance, at each milestone, we find PURPOSE. This guy is key to fulfilling our self-esteem barometer. If we feel good in our own shoes and are happy with ourselves, then we are ready to start sharing and loving with everyone else around us, spreading positivity and good vibes that we will only receive more of the same. Thus, starting the engine of positive mental health cycles.
For example, imagine if we were all little Marios, running around trying to save the princess from the clutches of Bowser! We'd have to navigate through all sorts of crazy levels filled with mushrooms, turtles, and who knows what else. But every time we managed to jump over a pit or squash an enemy, we'd feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment that would boost our confidence and make us want to keep going. And as we shared our love of the game with other Marios, we'd create a whole community of heroes working together to save the day! So let's all be Marios and embrace the ludic spirit of Super Mario Bros!
Interwoven with the other ideas is the concept that working on anything forces our lazy bums to get out there in the real world and collaborate with others, as we live in a specialized economy where we cannot do everything on our own. By working with others, we can activate our social lives, opening up a flood of interactions, new relationships, and even leisure activities. Essentially, everything we do in groups for fun. Creating lovely new memories with our friends is one of the greatest gifts of life. And if we don't have friends yet, spending time with other people is the only way to build unique, lasting friendships. We can also learn so much from the people around us, gaining new perspectives and approaches, and even unthinkable ideas. Friends and lovers usually raise our self-esteem and shower us with compliments, making us feel better about ourselves and our purpose in life. This, in turn, triggers the second gear of positive mental health cycles, boosting the motor of our life.
Picture yourself as Charlie Brown, with your lovable dog Snoopy by your side. You spend your days hanging out with your friends, Lucy, Linus, and the rest of the Peanuts gang, enjoying all sorts of hobbies and activities. When you're with your friends, you feel a sense of purpose and connection that brings energy and vibrancy to your life. Whether you're playing baseball, flying kites, or even fighting, you still know that you're part of a community that cares about you. And when you fall in love with that little red-haired girl, you realize that relationships and love are the icing on the cake of life. They bring even more joy and purpose to your days, making you feel active and alive.
Money is perhaps the most obvious contributor to our well-being in today's society. Without enough money to satisfy our basic needs and maybe even indulge in some extra fun, our lives would be severely limited. We mostly spend our money on cool stuff, travel, and clothes, all of which bring instant pleasure and satisfaction. But there is another way to spend our money: reinvesting it in work. You might be thinking, "More work!?" But reinvesting our money is an amazing way to plant a seed for the future, allowing us to have even more fun at work (with better equipment, new projects, and more revenue) or build our own private work project. Either option can turbocharge the engine of positive mental health, boosting every other gear of work.
Work is essential to our lives and existence in countless ways that we cannot even imagine. Since it is inevitable, why don't we start looking at it as a great thing that empowers and enriches us, instead of something that sucks the life out of us?
Lastly, it's important to remember that everything in excess is bad, including work.
It's very easy to lose balance and get lost in work. Work with happiness, work for your own goals, and work for your mental health.
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