Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day And Meaningful Work

Labor Day was a holiday created to to honor working people in the US and Canada. It was created to honor workers who have contributed to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. You can view Labor Day (and the resulting time off from work) as a gift from your employer that you've earned. 

But the hard, physical labor that spawned Labor Day is different than the labor that most of today's workers do. So is the definition of 'hard" labor. Most now view hard labor as work that is not physically demanding (though that still holds true), but work that is stressful and mentally demanding because it is not meaningful.

Fulfilling work is largely a 21st century notion. 

Since the emergence of industries not revolving around factories that are reliant upon droves of immigrant workers to perform redundant, menial, and often times dangerous tasks for wages, today's workers want, and are demanding more. Essentially, more respect, more flexibility, more meaning.

Conversely, when one does not find work meaningful, it doesn't mean that it's meaningless, as studies have found, it indicates that work is either boring or stressful, which can jeopardize the health of modern workers as much, if not more, than the dangerous conditions of workers at the turn of the century.

Work that is less meaningful is more stressful, as one has to labor under mental (if not environmental) conditions in one cannot relate in order to flourish. Self-determination theory teaches us that relatedness is crucial to our psychological well-being.

Doing work that allows us to engage in activities that are congruent with our personalities, values, and interests is healthy. When these components are combined with a positive work environment, it creates less labor, and becomes a labor of love. That's the type of Labor Day we should all strive for.

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