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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.