Why Not . . . Work Hard?
Wednesday February 23, 2011

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After pedaling  miles up a steep hill, the thrill of the downward descent is all the sweeter due the strenuous effort that produced the flying sensation. This balance of work and pleasure is the topic of today’s Why Not . . .? Wednesday.

One of my favorite pieces in Elle UK’s magazine is the first article you will find as you begin flipping through the pages – Elle Opinion. Each month, a different writer shares their thoughts on a particular topic, and in January’s issue, it remained true to form.

Alexandra Heminsley asks the question, is hard work the new route to happiness? What an intriguing and paradoxical question to ask. After all, ignorance tells us that the state of happiness is void of work, effort and strain, but the reality is quite the opposite. She brings up the example of lottery winners who continue to remain employed achieving greater happiness than those who promptly quit their jobs.  While at first this may seem surprising, I think this example proves a very valid point. Not only does work provide a paycheck, but it also provides stimulation and a multitude of feelings that are necessary to proceed through life with contentment.

Today, I’d like to take a look at the benefits of incorporating hard work into our lives, and why we shouldn’t shy away from it.

Achieve Balance

In all things, balance is a necessity – walking the beam in gymnastics – balance of one’s body, handling your finances – balancing the discretionary and the mandatory, sanity – balancing “me” time, family time & work responsibilities, a healthy body – a balanced diet.  I’m having fun coming up with all of the ways balance enters into our lives, but as you can see, it really is everywhere. The same is true for the time we spend working and the time we allow ourselves to relax and unwind. We must have one to appreciate fully the other.

Build Inner Confidence

By putting forth our best effort and prompting others around us  (our children, students, friends, etc) to do the same – not enabling each other, we are fostering self-confidence. Self-confidence is something that each individual must find within themselves through their own hard work, overcoming obstacles and feeling the doubt, yet overcoming it. And self-confidence, as we all know, is a sound path on the road toward happiness or more importantly, true contentment.

Alleviate Grief/Depression

I can remember a time when I had just suffered a difficult experience, which prompted me to set a new goal and focus all of my energy and time into making sure it materialized.  I took on three jobs (I was in college), enrolled in overload of classes (21 a quarter) in order to graduate early and proceeded to be so busy I wasn’t able to mope about in my grief.  While a therapist may say I was avoiding the issue, I can assure you I was not.  In fact, it was the healthiest thing I could do because my energies were focused on positive goals and not feeling sorry for myself.  And truthfully, I needed distance before I could deal with the reality.

Feel Accomplished 

The sweetest moment is knowing all of your efforts have paid off.  The feeling of accomplishment, of completing something that at times you thought would be impossible, provides a moment of utter bliss and a lifetime of contentment as you know that you, and you alone, accomplished what you had set out to do. The pride that is gained is something no one can take away and provides fuel for the next endeavor.  And when you’ve had to put forth such a tremendous amount of effort, you are less likely to take it for granted or mindlessly throw away the rewards you had worked so hard to achieve.  An immense amount of appreciation can have a great effect on the maintenance of an acquired goal.

Restful Sleep

Hard work can be on the job mental focus or at the gym, physically exhausting your body. Either way, truly hard work in either arena can create a wonderful night’s sleep.  Not only is your mind and/or body exhausted and in need of a rest, but when you know you’ve given it everything you possibly could, you can be at peace and let your mind take a break as well.

So choose to accept work and be thankful for the opportunity to continually create a more balanced life that will ultimately create the contentment we all seem to be striving for.

7 thoughts on “Why Not . . . Work Hard?

  1. Wonderful truthful words of wisdom. I want to print this out and post on my refrigerator:) Sleep cannot be be overstated and how important it is. And my husbands mantra is “its all about balance in your life” and he is so right. Thanks!

  2. Yes, work does give a sense of purpose and it is the only way to move ahead and challenge yourself and learn. It’s important to listen to your internal signals. Some people can take on a heavier workload than others whereas if I take on too much I shut down. I also believe one thing at a time is important: no multi-tasking!

  3. I’d argue there’s a downside to being a culture that derives happiness and self worth from their formal work. When I graduated from uni I poured myself into my work. It was a job that I was passionate about and that I was very proud to have. Fast forward four years later and the job is gone and my self worth with it. Needless to say, I’ve been on the prowl for something else for many, MANY months now. It’s a really tough time to hitch your self identity to work.

  4. I read the Elle article as well and I thought it was a very well written article that brought up some important questions to consider. However I found it more to be about taking your work seriously and be committed for the time you spend at work, not so much about putting in extra hours and make your work your first priority above everything else! As all we readers of your lovely blog knows, it’s all about balance!

  5. veggietestkitchen – I am so sorry to hear about your job search and situation. I can only imagine how frustrating this time might be. What I was trying to convey in the post was that work – whether it be something we are paid for, or something we partake in at our homes (yard work, childcare, house work) is a rewarding feeling that allows one to feel productive. I wish you tremendous luck in your job search and hopefully in hindsight upon finding your next job, you will be able to see some opportunities that wouldn’t have been available had this most difficult obstacle taken place. My heart truly does go out to you.

    MyFavouritThings – it truly is all about balance and incorporating work, not trying to get rid of it or seeing it as a bad thing that we have to do. The beauty is we are able to do work, I can only imagine the frustration if we were not.

  6. I have actually personally been stuck in a no-work slump. I am a college student (studying to be a physical therapist — stressful, difficult, you name it) and whereas normally I am very motivated, focused and involved in several projects outside of schoolwork, my parents and I thought it’d be best if I only focused on my classes this semester. Now looking back halfway through the semester I see this is the worst possible thing I could’ve done.
    Now it’s time for me to refocus. Regain my work-ethic and sense of accomplishment.


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