I was having lunch with one of my old teachers the other day when she told me about an article she read. She is a great teacher. A quick THANK YOU to all teachers out there. She told me about an experiment that placed people in an ideal environment where everything they needed for survival and comfort was fully provided and they didn’t have to work for anything. She said that all the subjects were healthy and happy initially but all soon became restless, fat, insatiable, aggressive and violent before they all perished (the exact word she used translates to ‘perish’ in English but I’m guessing they all died). The experiment was repeated 25 times with the same result all 25 times. Initial joy, health, and happiness, but then destruction follow almost immediately when all the comfort they have become insufficient. Haven’t we all thought of what the world will be like if Adam and Eve hadn’t fallen? I sure have, many times, and it’s almost always when I find a task needlessly difficult. The conclusion of my teacher’s story was that work is important for us as humans and I totally agree with her. I continued to ponder on her story the rest of the day until I decided to expand on it in the form of this article.
There are various definitions of work depending on who you ask but one of my favorites is the one that defines work as an engagement in a physical or mental activity with the aim of achieving a result. This definition immediately tackles the physical and mental aspects of work and how it is important to who and what we are as humans. Work is an inbuilt human nature. We are made to work, and simply put without work we cannot be, and we won’t be able to enjoy many of the benefits of life. Let us take a quick look at the physical aspect of that definition above. A child learns how to cry right from birth, then learns to see, breathe, suck, move, crawl, work etc. All these actions require work and effort even for a child that doesn’t yet have the mental capacity to comprehend his or her actions. These actions for the child are just reflexes, reflexes that require effort on the child’s part.
Growing up, the child continues to learn about the importance of work. He learns to do chores, study, play sports, fight etc. and these works play a huge role in who or what the child becomes as an adult. There are no shortcuts or fast lanes to work in life. That is just how we’re designed. But the real beauty of work even for children is the sense of satisfaction and reward that comes with it. Getting cookies for that completed task, or the joy that comes with a good academic performance in school or any successes in sports or other physical activities develops the confidence of a child and create in him an appreciation for work and effort. These physical tasks help in both building the child’s physical and mental abilities and capacities for even greater tasks that lie ahead. And the real work is in his future as an adult.
Quick question? How many of you have noticed how for most, you could eat everything you want as a child or a teenager and you never got fat even without exercising? You were still fit and your abs as flat as that of a Victoria Secret model? We get tricked into believing we can carry on like that without any extra efforts and still be in shape but before you know it your abdomen is already like that of someone with kwashiorkor. I fell into that trap. I went from natural six packs to my trousers not fitting before I realized I needed to start exercising. Do you how there is ‘work’ in ‘working out’. Work is never done and there’s always more to be done. Have you ever come home with a report card that read ‘1st position with As’ after a school term and all your parent could say was ‘there’s always room for improvement?’. That’s because truly there’s always more room for improvement.
Now let us take a quick look at the mental aspect of work. Remember those activities you had to do as a child such as doing your own laundry, learning to cook, sweep, read etc., they become a part of you when you’re grown. Not only does work help us acquire necessary survival skills but it also teaches us wisdom, prudence, and appreciation. There is the tendency of having a sense of entitlement when we don’t have to work for things, having the feeling that you ‘deserve this and that’. We all deserve the good and the best, but working for it makes those best dreams realistic and enjoyable. You never know the real worth of money until you start working for it yourself. The people with the best money management skills are usually those that were thought the importance of work and didn’t inherit anything of worth. Having to make your own way teaches you the real worth of labor and teaches you to appreciate life, money, and people. There is not a better way to get rid of any sense of entitlement than getting your hands dirty working for what you get.
The physical and mental aspects of works are also clearly visible in the different kinds of professions that exist in our society. Some works require high mental acuity, some are more physical while others combine both the mental and physical aspects. Needless to say, there’s no one single person or profession that can do without either. Common sense becomes uncommon together with laziness and a sense of entitlement when there is a deficiency somewhere, physical or mental. Work is what holds our society together. Imagine if drivers, sellers, doctors, bankers, engineers all decide to stop working at once, there will be chaos, hunger, delays, accidents and even deaths. I love that saying that ‘no work is bad or small’. Work is work, and those that understand that simple truth find life to be easier. Imagine if that cleaning lady at your office refuses to work for 1 week, or all the farmers decide to go become teachers, there soon won’t be any students left for them to teach when we all die of starvation.
Work is not only what we do, but why we do it and how we do it. A teacher will always make an impact, negative or positive because he/she teaches impressionable kids with lots of blank slates in their brains to assimilate, learn and develop. But a good teacher will make sure that impact is positive, developmental and useful. Again a quick THANK YOU to all the good teachers that put in the extra effort. Not that I’m leaving out other professions or not appreciating their importance, I just want to use this article to appreciate teachers, no bias whatsoever. Let us face it, we’ve all had good teachers in our lives, and some of them we cannot forget.
What will become of a society where people do not have to work? I’m not sure I want to know the answer to that question. Simply put, work is a huge part of who we are and what we are, and without it, we might never know fulfilment, success, joy, happiness, satisfaction, health and all the good things of life. Put in the effort today, no matter how little or belittling your job might seem, there is no small or bad work. I love and appreciate people with a work attitude. You’re the reason why the whole system of society has not collapsed. Keep up the good work and keep up the work attitude, it is why the whole structure of our civilisation hasn’t crashed on us yet.
As a tribute, please write something kind for any of your favorite teachers in the comment section (mentioning their names) and share this article with them if they are on any of the popular social media platforms. Let them know what role they are or were to you. I’ll also do the same. It’ll be a nice and thoughtful gesture.