Do We Need Work To Be Happy?
Start writing a post

Do We Need Work To Be Happy?

Why not make work count?

Do We Need Work To Be Happy?

"The actual living of life in the utopian world is dealt with quickly, and parenthetically probably because it's tedious and boring," writes Ben Hayden of Psychology Today.

This weekend, I had a three-day weekend. I spent a lot of the weekend idly: playing video games, playing basketball and running, going out to eat, and basically not doing anything productive. It is the last day of my three-day weekend taking a break from my very chaotic and stressful job as an inner-city teacher, and how do I feel right now?

Not good.

I feel like I've wasted a lot of time over the weekend when I could have gotten a lot done. I could have put more grades in, lesson planned for the whole week, finished some homework, and done a lot more for work in between. The fact that I feel guilty in itself is an indication that I've bought into bourgeois, capitalist hustle culture: if you're not being productive, if you're not hustling, you're wasting your time.

But I believe there's no such thing as wasting time. As such, my time being idle wasn't exactly wasted. I helped myself hit the reset button for the weeks to come of constant work and teaching. I spent time praying, going to church, and reading Scripture to improve my relationship with God.

The weekend brought into question, however, where would I be without work? Where would we all be without work? We know the emptiness we feel when we're unemployed, when we spend too much time sitting on the couch, watching TV. No adult wants to live in a parent's basement or not be employed.

One of the first questions we ask a stranger as a form of small-talk is "what do you do?" I have been fortunate enough to have a respectable and proud answer to the question, but I have also been on the other end asking the question to people who have said "I'm unemployed". As a somewhat considerate person, I felt like absolute shit, insensitive and oblivious to the fact that the question of "what do you do?" can be a sore and triggering spot for a lot of people, especially the 3.6% of adults in our country that are currently unemployed.

Do we need work, then to be happy? Or does society simply condition us to think that way? That is a question I genuinely struggle with. In education, we have a buzzword called "productive struggle" that is defined as "the process of effortful learning that develops grit and creative problem solving". Productive struggle, in our work culture, is a necessary part of what it means to improve and be happy.

I am one of many people that hates being on vacation. Even now, I am looking for work opportunities and jobs to spend my summer, as I have the summer off as a teacher. I would absolutely dread having a read break where I'm not being productive and not working. I'm applying for service-oriented jobs where I can give back, work, and feel like a contributing and altruistic member of society.

"We need stakes. We thrive on conflict," Hayden continues. "We need to constantly overcome obstacles to be happy."

I have seen the fact that if you don't give your students a worksheet and a lesson to engage with, they get bored. If they're not engaged in their work, they start to misbehave. I have been the witness to far too many occasions of these incidents and misbehaviors in a classroom setting.

And children's behaviors are a microcosm of the human condition and our social compact. If we don't have work, if we're not constantly moving towards making the world a better place and making progress, then where do we go? I struggle against this capitalist mindset, but I don't know if it's effective to just give things off that aren't earned or deserved. I have come under heavy fire from other teachers and adults in my school for giving candy or snacks or food to my kids when it wasn't well-deserved by their academic growth or achievement.

And while I have a lot of misgivings that you always have to deserve or earn a reward, I know how the world works. The world is a cruel place, and especially urban environments like the city I live in. While a lot of us give to charity and give to help others survive, not everyone does. And people will look at others they perceive as undeserving as a form of self-righteousness to validate that perhaps they are the deserving ones of the money they make or the food they put on their plate.

As a believer, I know my self-worth is not predicated on my job or my work. I know the worth of others is also not dependent on their work. As a Christian, every person is a good person and deserving of love and generosity, especially because I've made mistakes in the past and because I'm such a bad person.

Proverbs 14:23 tells us that "all hard work brings profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty." In the New Testament, 2 Timothy 2:6 tells us that "the hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops."

But reconciling my faith with the cruel conditions of this world has been a severe challenge. I do not know if I can raise my kids without letting them know that they have to work, that people will judge them by their employment status and what they do.

Maybe we need work to be happy. And maybe we don't. But in the meantime, I would tell my kids to do work that they love. I come home tired and exhausted from teaching every single day, but there's not a moment when the work isn't rewarding and I didn't feel like I made a good difference in the world. Not all of us have the luxury to follow our passions, but we spend so much of our lives working.

Think about how much time we spend working. A typical week has 168 hours. On average, 40 of those hours are spent working. On average, about 56 of those hours are spent sleeping. That leaves 72 hours spent not working. Mathematically, we spend about 1/3 of our waking moments working.

Why not make it count? Why not make it happy?

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

In an already unprecedented political landscape, things aren't looking so bright for mail-in voters heading into November's election. In 46 states and Washington D.C., post offices received a warning that mail-in ballots may not be counted on time to count on election day, according to a report by the Washington Post.

Keep Reading... Show less

"New Girl" is one of the best sitcoms of all time. Honestly, it is so much fun to watch, so much fun to relate to, just all around a great show.

Not only is a great show, it has so many different great settings, obviously including the loft. If you live by Nick Miller quotes and desperately tried to learn how to play "True American," you need to buy these things because you are a true "New Girl" fan.

Keep Reading... Show less

You know those items you've been pinning to your Home board on Pinterest for [insert amount of time]? Well, it's officially the moment to turn that wishlist into a married life reality, and it's going to be SO fun.

But, before you get to shopping and adding things to your upgraded bridal wishlist (sorry, Pinterest, it was lovely while it lasted), you'll first want to decide where you want to open your registry (or registries, if you want options). Here are 17 of the best websites and stores to consider saying "I do" to for your wedding registry, to have and to hold for as long as people are buying you wedding gifts.

Keep Reading... Show less

If you've ever been in the dating game, or currently are, chances are you've had a date gone wrong. These are often times super embarrassing, but they are always funny to look back on.

Keep Reading... Show less

I just recently got engaged and planning a wedding during a pandemic is actually kind of a nightmare.

A lot of venues are taken for 2021 because of corona brides and grooms who have had to reschedule their weddings and the same goes for other vendors and literally everything else.

Keep Reading... Show less

While promoting her most recent movie, "Work It," Sabrina Carpenter has divulged some of her favorite beauty products to interviewers.

Keep Reading... Show less

When I say we can't stop thinking about the relationship advice Miley Cyrus dropped on "Call Her Daddy" today, I mean it literally.

Her truth bombs hit me (and most who listened) like a wrecking ball and coupled with the release of her new song "Midnight Sky," we're going to need some time to process the greatness. In case you haven't listened yet (what are you waiting for?), here are 10 relationship tips Miley shared that we should all live by for the rest of time.

Keep Reading... Show less

Founders Of Color: Rec Room's Dre Taylor On What Blackness Can Look Like And Not Working For Free

"It mattered to me that when we were depicting racial diversity for Rec Room, we showed the broad spectrum of what Blackness can look like."

Rec Room

The world of sustainable fashion is inundated with marketing gimmicks, false advertising, and large corporations cutting corners — Rec Room is the pure antithesis of that.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 At-Home Therapy Tips You Need, No Matter What Your Therapy Routine Is

Whether you're in a Zoom session or live-chatting, make sure your home therapy space is good to go.

No matter what stigmas you held about therapy before this year, I'm sure 2020 has affirmed that we could ALL use a nice long therapy session. Between wildfires that took over an entire continent, a global health crisis, and what's sure to be one giant circus of an election in the United States, we need help and we need it now.

The fact of the matter is, therapy has been a helpful, valid resource long before the world decided to become one giant dumpster fire. Having a safe space to discuss what's going on in your life, worries you have, and struggles you're facing has become a very normal thing for individuals' mental health.

Keep Reading... Show less

Dunkin' just announced that they'll be releasing their fall menu earlier than ever — set to debut on August 19 — and that it'll include new menu options this season, including a new signature pumpkin spice latte. Let me just say, Starbucks has some fall-menu competition now.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments