Why Do You Work?

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Once, while at work, a co-worker asked me:

“Are you working hard?  Or are you just hard at work?”

I don’t quite remember what my reply was, but the question is more profound than it sounds.  After listening to my response, they stated:

“There is a difference between the two.  You know that, right?”

I still haven’t quite figured out how to describe the difference between the two, but I feel deep down that there is something deeply significant about this simple question.

One thing I’m sure of is that I believe in working smarter, not harder.  In the book “The 4 Hour Work Week,” by Timothy Ferriss, he recounts a childhood story about so-called hard work.  He recounts a job he had where one of his duties was to mop the floors.  The method prescribed to him by the owner wasn’t the most efficient.  The result was harder and longer work for Timothy.  But this state of hard, long, inefficient work was unnecessary to achieve the desired result, Timothy figured out.  He concocted his own method for getting the same quality work done, but in much less time.  When the owner found out, the owner’s reaction was to feel that Timothy was cheating and that he did not truly understand what hard work was because of it.  If I’m not mistaken, Timothy even stated he was let go because of it, and the owner told him to come back when he finally understood the true meaning of hard work.

Timothy was confused, because he thought he was saving the owner time, money, and labor, without sacrificing quality.  From Timothy’s point of view, the owner should have thanked him for developing a more cost effective and efficient process.

So, I pose the question again:

“Are you working hard?  Or are you hard at work?

What exactly is hard work?  Is hard work all about being physically or mentally exhausted at the end of the day?  Is it about maximally exerting yourself?  Is it about victoriously dealing with work-related stress?  If so, then would you ever choose to work hard if you didn’t find yourself having to?

Maybe I can explore this question more in the future, but I want to explore, first, why we’ve all gotten caught up in a “work for a living” paradigm.

Working citizens all assume that they understand what hard work is, simply because they work for a living.  But what is a living?  Is a living about just getting by?

According to research, the average American is on the cusps of financial collapse.  All it takes is one financial emergency and everything comes crashing down.  Is this truly what making a living is all about or is it a corrupted view?  Perhaps, it’s not even worthy of being called making a living at all.  This seems to drain life.  Shouldn’t making a living be about enriching ones life?  These are deep questions, indeed.

It’s a fact that work, today, is all about staying afloat.  But why do we feel the need to stay afloat.  Who or what is out there trying to drown us?  Or could it be that we simply don’t know how to swim?

The reasons given for the imperative to work are usually the same across the board.  It could be because of bills.  It could because you need to eat to subsist.  Maybe you have a family to support.  Maybe you are working for a secured future retirement.

But if you work to pay bills, that means you work to pay someone else.  And if you work to pay someone else, is that any different than working for someone else’s benefit?  Would you choose to spend the majority of your life working for someone else’s benefit?

Time is more precious than money.  This is what entrepreneurs and business owners value.  Most money has no real tangible value.  Money is a social construct.  The average adult can be said to work 40 hours a week, 5 days a week.  If someone asked for a 3rd of your lifetime right now, would you even consider giving it to them?  They would have to offer a damn good deal, right?  Think of the invaluable amount of time people have handed to businesses in their lifetime?  That’s time you will never get back.  Businesses are reaping the benefits of your time, because they understand that the value of time is greater than the money they exchange to you for your time.

We all assume that, when we are working for money, we are working for our own benefit.  Contrary to established beliefs, this is far from the truth.  The Average American works for their housing provider or bank first, their employer second, and the IRS third.  By the time you’re done bending over for everyone else that takes their piece of the pie, you barely have anything left for yourself.

You’ve been fooled into believing that this paradigm is the real world.  In reality, it’s artificial.  The real world, called “nature,” provides food and water for free.  It doesn’t require slave labor.  Currency, that is so paramount in the artificial world, doesn’t even exist in nature.  In fact, you should ask yourself where these authorities get the paper to even print their currency.  These stores that we buy our food from, where do they even get it?  It’s all been extracted from nature, free of charge, to be sold for profit.  Even energy is free, but we’ve all been paying for it all of our lives.  The real world is an unimaginably wonderful place, once you understand what the real world is.  It has everything you need to sustain yourself.  Land and resources are abundant.  Life is abundant.  It has everything you need to enrich yourself.

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