When I share with friends my belief that work can be one of the biggest keys to our happiness, in the majority of cases I’m generally met with the above response “yeah right”.  Or something along the lines of “what planet do you live on?” 

They very often then go on to tell me how they’re not buying into this PR spin that devious marketers or consultants like me come up with as a clever ploy to just get more out of the them for the benefit of the company.  Which is a fair enough point.

There have been a lot of “best place to work” or “growing together” employer campaigns that have failed to live up to their shiny video promos.   We generally agree and have a bit of a laugh about this, having lived through a number of them.

Some other friends, while absolutely in a smaller minority, see it differently and agree with me.  They love the work they do and the opportunities it gives them to contribute, grow, learn, express themselves and have the lifestyle they desire.

Given a choice would you choose to work? 

So what’s the difference between my two camps of friends?  Some say “yeah but it’s easy when you’re doing work you love… I’m not”.  Well if that’s the case, then isn’t it relatively easy to resolve that by changing jobs and moving to one you are really attracted to and will love?   Yes, it  will involve some effort, but it’s very possible to do.  I don’t believe this is the difference.

I believe the real problem lies more in our beliefs.  Our beliefs about happiness. Our beliefs about work and whether or not this is something that is good for us.  Given a choice would you choose to work?

If you won the lottery tomorrow would you choose to spend the rest or your life playing golf, or taking exotic cruises, or travelling the world or eating lobster?   If you could retire tomorrow with full pension and benefits would you take it?

These, I believe, are the real questions each of us needs to examine and  answer for ourselves.  If you answer yes, then the next question to ask is, do you really believe this will make you happy?

For some people it might and there’s nothing wrong with that, but a workless life is not for everyone.

Born to create

Personally, it’s not for me and I don’t believe it would make me happy.   I see this too in family and friends who have taken early retirement and are now bored, or shocked to find themselves missing work and feeling a bit disappointed with their “golden retirement egg”.

I see it in friends who are delighted to be returning to work after their very much enjoyed maternity leave.  I experience it in myself after a decadent two week holiday with rich eating, drinking and exotic exploration.  As enjoyable, relaxing and fun as it was I look forward to my return to work.  I look forward to focusing my mind on meaningful projects, opportunities and challenges that are important to me and my company.

As human beings I don’t believe we were born to just live a life of leisure.  I believe we were born to create and contribute in the shaping and continuous evolution of our world and ourselves.

Whether that’s by helping create a hip joint that will change a person’s life, or a social media platform that changes how we stay connected, or a song that makes people want to dance, or great food that helps people thrive …that wonderful choice is up to you.

Rather than seeing work as a chore and something that takes from our happiness, I believe it offers us a big opportunity to purposely live, learn and grow.  What do you believe?