Are Humans Meant to Work?

In 5th grade my teacher gave us Friday Folders with every assignment from the week. This was for parents to know if we learned enough about Anne Frank, etc.

On the bus ride home I threw out the bad grades.

I had to because my mom made me correct every wrong answer. On Friday. The holy grail of afternoons for 10-year-olds worldwide.

This behavior continued into high school and college, where [thankfully] attendance (or right answers) wasn’t as important anymore. But what didn’t change was my animosity towards work.

One paradox we face daily is the “grass is greener” syndrome. When we’re working, we want to be free. When bored, we want to stay busy.

So it’s difficult for me to believe humans can ever enjoy work.

I personally run away from it constantly. This is M-F Ryan. Then I claw my eyes out from boredom, Sa-Su Ryan. But rather than subscribe to a ‘lesser of two evils,’ perhaps it is more likely true that we neither like working OR doing nothing.

We want something in the middle.

This idea, however, does not a happy philosopher make.

As such I think the question ought to be rephrased. Because our whining (about work, lack of work) is obviously not the solution, it is a side effect.

So I propose a new angle.

I think we like building things.

We enjoy building software, our bodies, small empires of franchise restaurants, this blog following that only you and my mom read…

Work, then, is a means to an end.

It is the thing we don’t like that helps us build what we do like. I don’t enjoy dumbbells or waking up early. But I like bigger arms because the guy on my corner is scary.

When you find yourself hating work, look at what you’re building:

If you like what you see, back to the salt mines.

If not, build something different.

2 Comments

  1. AJ Massaro July 18, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    found this as a first hit on google on the search query ‘humans are made to work’ and was not disappointed in the slightest- magnificently worded, short, and sweet and solidified every feeling of confusion in two short phrases to end with a knockout punch. Beautiful- thank you.

    Reply

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