Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Importance of Work

As a college student, coming home for one of the several school breaks throughout the year leaves me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it is a welcome reprieve from the rigors and demands of the school year, but at the same time, very often within the first few days I find myself depressed and utterly unwilling to do anything. Several of my fellow college students undergo the same thing. At a time when it seems like we would be the least depressed, depression seems to come the most intensely.

In part, I believe it's related to the sudden shift in environment, and very often the absence of our regular social circle we know in college, but I don't think that's the whole of it. A few days ago, I underwent a similar depression. In a follow-up to the events of my previous post, I've been accepted to give a speech at a local high school on my experiences with mental illness, and was scheduled to do it this week. On the day prior to my attending, however, the event was rescheduled due to the weather. The various preparations I had intended to do throughout the day suddenly lost their motivation, and I was more than happy to take the day more slowly, seeing as I had quite a bit more time to prepare for it, and did not do as much work as I intended to do. Quite a bit less, in fact.

Yet very soon I became hit with lethargy and depression, and went through the day in a disoriented haze, going from one bit of entertainment to the next, from games to browsing the web, to watching videos, all without the zeal and enjoyment I would normally have for them, say, at the end of a day of work. Indeed, it seemed to me, that while I might not have as much time to relax on a working day, my enjoyment of my relaxation activities improved, along with my overall day, when I worked.

It seemed to me that one of the ways to become happier is by working. 

On the surface, this seems paradoxical. After all, one of our ultimate life goals is to earn enough money and retire from work. Work is so often seen as something we have to do, to earn the financial security to enjoy our free time. Yet by my own experience, long periods of time spent with little to no work have left me often depressed. I feel unproductive, doing little to contribute to the world or my own well-being. It is when I begin returning to work that those feelings are gone, and my free time becomes treasured, feels like something earned.

Obviously, this does not mean that the way to happiness is through a constant nonstop work. Maintaining a healthy balance is crucial, and often by spending too much time in work we risk overexertion, to say nothing of how often work is used as a way to distract ourselves from our own psychological issues. And of course, for some of us, we are engaged in work that is unsatisfying and inordinately stressful. Yet a healthy balance of work and free time, I believe, can give many of us a more satisfying and enjoyable life experience. 

No comments:

Post a Comment