Attitudes to work

by Marcus Loane
4th December 2009



 For many, work is a word which has many negative associations. It is seen as something which is unpleasant and an unfortunate necessity. For others it is a source of much satisfaction and enjoyment. Obviously it will be better for our happiness if we can develop the second attitude towards work. We can consider work as something we do for enjoyment and satisfaction which we just happen to get paid for. We can consider the pay as a bonus or fortunate side effect and not the reason for work.

 Experiments have been done where students were asked how much they would want to be paid for attending a 20 minute poetry reading by their lecturer. Then they were asked how much they would need to be paid to attend a 40 minute poetry reading and they demanded a higher payment for this.

 A second group of students were asked how much they would be willing to pay for the privilege of attending the lecturer's 20 minute poetry reading and how much they would be willing to pay for a 40 minute poetry reading. The students in this group were willing to pay more to attend the 40 minute reading.
 There were two very different attitudes to an activity (attending a poetry reading) in these two groups. The first group regarded the activity as a chore or work and wanted to be paid more for the longer duration. The second group regarded the very same activity as pleasure or entertainment and would pay more for a longer duration of the activity.
 The difference here is just in the attitude or how the activity was defined in the students' minds. We can do the same with our own attitude to work. We can look for aspects of it which we get personal satisfaction from and regard the fact that we are paid for it as a pleasant and surprising bonus!

 You can start to apply this to everything in your life that was previously regarded as a chore. You can look for ways to enjoy and get satisfaction from every activity, whether it is a difficult work project or doing a good job at washing the dishes. You can almost take the word "work" out of your vocabulary.  When our ancestors went out on a hunt, or on a fruit gathering exercise they may not have regarded it as work. They may have considered it just a part of life, something that is inherently rewarding to do.

 Being in the right job for you may help here but so much depends on your attitude to work that it is worth trying this flip in perspective in your current job and you may find you are quite content with it.
 Many workers get satisfaction from the social aspect of being in a workplace and getting to mix with other people.

We can think of work as an activity that adds interest, life and colour, challenge and purpose to our day and which we just happen to get paid for.


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