The Problem with Work

“Thank God it’s the weekend”, “I hate my job”, “2 weeks with no work, what could be better”, “back to the Salt Mines”, “I only have to work 15 hours a week” (in response – “You lucky dog!”.)

Work is something to be either avoided of suffered through.  This is so much of our cultural landscape, we take it for granted. It is often seen as part of the natural suffering of “being an adult”. This is truly sad, that using our gifts and skills to serve our community has become something like punishment for many of us. Why is this?

Work as we understand it, usually means leaving the place we are most comfortable and doing something out of harmony with our bodies, our minds, our hearts and souls, and our community of friends. No wonder we dread it.

There are a few lucky people who simply do what they are most passionate about in a way that fits their nature. Yeah for them! However those folks are a small minority. There are a some folks whose jobs are close to torture and a huge number whose jobs are numbing and disconnect them from their heart and spirit. There are also a lot of people who would say they have “good jobs” who are far from fulfilled. They may work at a place where the goal is something they feel positive about, and they may basically like the people they work with, but they may suffer many of the following::

  • even though the goal of the workplace may be good, what they actually do may have no direct meaning to that work (scheduling, accounting, cleaning, secretarial work, etc.)
  • Conversely they may do something that is meaningful, but do so much they feel way overstressed. Our workplaces tend to be divided into “superstars” who are stressed, and bunch of people who support them and have jobs with no intrinsic meaning
  • They may spend 25-75% of their workday dealing with “logistics” rather than actually accomplishing the goal of their workplace
  • They may work with good people, but where most everyone does not have time to have actual connection and support each other through the workday
  • Their company may have high ideals but chooses to make numerous compromises “to pay the bills”.
  • They may spend a majority of their time on a phone or computer, without real space for exercise or rest
  • They may spend most of their time multi-tasking which keeps them from being present with what they are doing and who they are doing it with
  • Their day may be full of 30 second interactions with people they do not know, and do not care about. (many of the people I know come home from work – wanting to escape from people AND craving intimacy – this is the result of days filled with non-meaningful contact)

And this list could go on and on.

Yes, this is why 90% of us dread work. And we may think that is the only way things could be. But it is not. “Work” gets commodified through money, and our rules about money in our society. But what would happen if rather than using money as our only means of sharing energy with each other and getting things done, we simply served our community, our friends, our neighborhood, and others did the same? This may seem like a wild dream, and yet “primitive cultures” lived that way for thousands of years, and they may not have had Starbucks and internet shopping, but I think they were happier.

I am part of the Lane Service Sharing Network, a “time bank” where we give and receive with one another, and money is not our measure of exchange. We do not have to give and receive from the same person, and we keep a basic balance of the time you have given, and the time received.But our emphasis is meeting our needs and serving our community, not on staying perfectly “even”. And we do this within a community we care about and who cares about us.

Our goal is to work less and contribute more, and create a world where others can do the same. Join us!