Why Do We Work?

When I was around 6 or 7 years old I wanted to become a pilot. Some kids want to become doctors, firefighter or…

Are we programming our kids from early ages that they have to work? Or it’s something intrinsic to human psyche?

Scientists have tracked bartering to 40,000 years ago; that is making direct deals between two parties of desirable objects. Those days people only worked to stay safe, feed themselves, survive or to have companionship. The concept of currency and money came a bit later around 2000 BC.

But why do we work? Why we have to work? And a better question might be, are we working for the right reasons?

Most of us work for money. Working for money has a bit of negative connotation to it but does it matter?!

Many people work for money to live comfortably. In the modern civilisation we have progressed to higher needs; we no longer only work to feed ourselves or to have a shelter but to live comfortably. Although there are still many people in Africa and other places dying of hunger but we try to ignore them unfortunately.

Many people work for money because they are forced to work in order to pay back their debts. We live in a debt based system. Humans are the only species that pay to live on the earth! When we are born we do not get a share of land by default. We have to buy it from the governments for some reason.

Many people work for money in order to increase their social status. It gives them identity. We pay ridiculous amounts of money to universities in order to have them stamp us with a seal of approval for work. Housewives may find it difficult to confirm their value in the society, no matter how much their work is appreciated within the family.

Many people work for money to gain freedom. My wife has gone back to workforce after caring for our kids for 4 years and she is happier than ever. She has financial freedom, and more socially engaged.

But sometimes work becomes the dominant force in our lives; it’s not a shortage of income that shackles us, but a shortage of time.

Apart from money is there a better reason to be working? Is money the core of why we do it? Is there a reason to be working other than money?

Fulfilment is a combination of accomplishment and purpose. Once we met our basic needs we move on to more exclusive psychological needs.

We might work to become an expert in a subject, discover our talents. It gives us pride.

We might work to do what we love and enjoy. Some people lose themselves in their work. Artists and scientists for example.

But according to a massive report published in 2013 by Gallup, more than 50% of american workers are dis-engaged or suffer from work related physical and psychological illnesses, so sometimes work is a shackle and a burden.

We might work to create a positive impact, to make other people’s lives better or make them happy or serve people.

We might believe in spiritual views of work. Embracing the notion that each of us is unique, precious, and possess something different and here to do something special.

So there are other reasons except money that might wake us up in the morning.

What about the future? What is the future of work? Will technology enable us to work from home or remotely all the time? What will happen to our social side then? Will robots take most of our jobs in 20 year as predicted by experts?

What do we do then?

For now just remember that we are here to live not to work.