hard work helps make a happy soul, if…

Russell Minick Leave a Comment

Sometimes I hate hard work. Not too weird, is it? But actually I only really hate hard work if it is missing a few things.

In the same way sometimes I hate not having something to work hard on. Why?

A big part of what I do is look at things from opposing angles, trying to get a sense of contradictions and such so that I can find principles that last in multiple contexts. Single dimension observations aren’t as useful. (note to self- high frequency direction finding /triangulation; dialectics; holograms)

Summer vacation is the more concrete illustration for this thought. “Schools, out, for, SUMMER!” Yeah, no more work, just fun and goofing off and such. That used to be such a great feeling. But then I remember going over to Brett’s house.

“Hey, what ‘cha wanna do?”

“I dunno, what do you wanna do?”

“I dunno know, whatever you wanna do.”

And then we would walk in 105 degree heat, barefoot on asphalt, for a mile and a half to get a coke and spree and sit on an iron cross beam over a creek….

When it was time to go back to school, we tried to act irritated, but partly it was exciting to get back to structured work. For about 2 days.

Do I like my work now? Not as much as I should. I have such a good setup I almost feel guilty for not enjoying it more. Then I read something that got me more focused than my usual daydreaming about life, meaning, satisfaction, hope, disappointment, food and soccer.

p. 173,4 of Malcom Gladwell’s OUTLIERS (regarding poor immigrants in NY developing a garment business)

When Borgenicht came home at night to his children, he may have been tired and poor and overwhelmed, but he was alive. He was his own boss. He was responsible for his own decisions and direction. His work was complex: it engaged his mind and imagination. And in his work, there was a relationship between effort and reward: the longer he and Regina stayed up at night sewing aprons, the more money they made the next day on the streets.

Those three things – autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward – are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying.

Bingo! A relearning happened for me (which is why I am reluctant to write; everything seems obviously ‘nothing new under the sun’ once stated).

I have dropped in natural enthusiasm currently because I have allowed a bit of disconnect in one of these categories. Solution? Add it back in. Make things possible to succeed or fail, risk/reward, in meaningful ways. Is there no risk or reward currently? There is, but not in meaningfully coherent ways.

Scripture?

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.

(Proverbs 14:23)

The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor. Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth. In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.

(Proverbs 12:24-28)

A righteous life includes a wise and just pursuit of productivity with reward. Other truths have covered this up in my mental clutter. I’m glad to have come across it again.

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