The Secret to True Contentment: Work

July 23, 2010 by  
Filed under blog

I know everybody thinks that life is about getting to a place where you don’t have to work, where you can just take it easy and drink cocktails while sitting by the pool but I can tell you from personal experience, that is a road with few rewards. Work—having a job, a business, or personal objectives you are actively striving for—is something you will never want to be without. Work is not just for paying the bills, it is essential to having a fulfilling life.

Studies have shown that people are four times more likely to have a sense of contentment from work than they do from watching TV. That’s a pretty impressive statistic and yet, the majority of people (especially in the good ole U.S. of A.) spend huge amounts of time watching the tube. So why do we choose to watch TV rather than get to work on things that would further our personal and professional goals as well as provide us with more contentment?

It’s because work is hard. Worthwhile and challenging tasks usually take the proverbial blood, sweat, and tears and sometimes end up being a constant uphill struggle. Instinctively, we want to avoid what is difficult and TV can fill our time without taxing our brains or body. But it is the difficult work, the complicated and challenging goals we face in our day job or the effort we put into building a dream, that makes what we accomplish so satisfying. Watching TV, on the other hand, accomplishes little if anything and is not, at the end of the day, very fulfilling.

You probably enjoy games of some sort—tennis, golf, chess, sodoku, etc.—and you play because of the challenge and the way you get lost in it, looking forward to seeing what you can accomplish or motivated by that potential win. Likewise, in your work, if you take time to set difficult and complex goals and totally throw yourself into reaching those objectives, you will find that your contentment and happiness will soar, buoyed by your progress and that potential, if not actualized, win.

Bottom line: set up some very tough challenges for yourself, pushing yourself to do more complex and novel things (whether you’re a millionaire now or still working on it!). It’s the work that will lead you to a richer and more satisfying life and make the down time by the pool much more enjoyable.