The Value of Work


What is the value of work?

It is common to note that people are happier when they have meaningful work to do. It has also been shown that on average, health declines more if one retires rather than continuing to work. It seems that humans need to be doing something productive to be happy.

On the other hand, it is also common for people to actually hate the work they do, and be stressed by it. This can't be healthy. In fact, there are plenty of studies which show all sorts of negative effects on health that come from stress. Work, then, can be bad for you or good for you. That raises some questions about the value of work on a personal level.

Questioning the Value of Work

1. What kind of work should one be doing to remain happier as one ages?

Are you doing the work that you are best suited to? Are you doing something that you enjoy and will continue to enjoy? Should we see it as normal to move from profession to profession as we age, in order to stay mentally engaged?

2. Does the work need to be productive or is just keeping busy the goal?

Is it important to actually be producing much with our work, or is it enough just to have something to do? Would you be happy keeping busy at a job that really wasn't necessary?

3. Could it be that work has been credited for the deeper value of simply exercising ones capacities, which could be done through travel, hobbies, volunteering for a cause or studying something of interest?

In other words, do you really need to have a job or to "work" in the sense of doing something of economic value? Could the value of work be just one way to achieve the deeper needs you have to be creative and active? Could you be as happy playing chess and writing poems that never get published?

4. Is the pay received from work enough to compensate for a job that is hated?

Can you be happy doing something you don't enjoy for forty hours weekly if it buys you enough of what you want in other areas? How much more would you have to make to take a job that was hated versus doing work you enjoy?

Yes, there are more questions than answers here, and that is the point. This is something you have to think through for yourself. The value of work is a personal matter and will mean something different to each of us.

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