By Joanna Delalande
The word "work" is sometimes just four letters standing in the way of being able to do what we really want to.
Rolling out of bed in the morning, the only thing that often gets us through the working day is the thought of leisure time, play, relaxation, a hot shower or good conversations, a captivating book or rejuvenating sleep to come after.
Sometimes we feel like our jobs are a chore or obligation.
It can be difficult to perceive it instead as a privilege, a blessing; a source of joy and satisfaction— and not just because of the money it brings in.
Human beings are built for work; it is beneficial and even necessary to our wellbeing. The Bible in Genesis chapter 2 verse 15 says: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it". From the moment God made Adam and Eve, men and women have worked.
We were so made for productivity that nearly half of today's retirees say they have either worked or plan to work during their retirement years, according to a 2014 report by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave. For some the reasons remain financial, but for others it is a realisation of the value of work.
New York social worker Judy Uman told The Fiscal Times she continues to work at age 77 because the rewards of her job and the ability to help people who need it are too important for her to give up.
"It would be foolish for me to retire because there aren't many people who do the kind of work that I do," she said. "I have a special mission, and it's an honour to do this work."
A former educator named Blanche Lozar, now working with a pet food manufacturer, said this: "I wouldn't like staying home. There's nothing on television, and there's only so much yard work you can do. I feel like I know more about the world being in it than being at home."
As for me, having spent over three months of my university holiday doing virtually no work apart from a couple of waitressing shifts a week, I can testify that when you stay unproductive for too long you become restless, lazy and unmotivated.
It is difficult to attach any kind of meaning to your life when you are not doing anything meaningful.
Work keeps us occupied, engaged, and gives us a sense of usefulness we so badly need.
We were never meant to live a life solely of leisure, but one of creativity and productivity.
Maybe our attitude towards work needs to change— it is not just for survival, it is what we were born to do.
But here is the other danger— while we should recognise the importance of work in our lives, we should not let it be the sole measure of our success and happiness. Work is like everything else in life such as relationships, hobbies and whatever else we might find pleasure in, is fragile.
Our success in our work, and the opportunities we are given with regards to our work, are dependent on a lot of things, many of which we have no control over. We cannot rely on something so unstable as our primary source of happiness.
What, then, should we rely on? In my experience, everything that has ever brought me some measure of happiness has also brought me either pain, because it failed or ended or otherwise fell through; or emptiness, because even though it was everything I thought I wanted it still didn't turn out to be enough.
The only exception, of all the things I have tried to place my value and happiness in, is Jesus Christ. Eve and Adam needed more than work to feel fulfilled in the Garden of Eden. They needed relationship— with each other and with God. God is the thing that filled the void in my life no amount of productivity and achievement was ever able to. He has never failed or ended or otherwise fallen through. •