The Purpose Of Life: Work to Live OR Live to work?
The other day I read an article by an associate. She takes the position that we humans require a purpose in life and to work is that purpose. To be constructive. To be building or building toward something.
Do you agree?
Several days before that, I came across an idea which suggested a dichotomy of two kinds of societies: “live to work” societies and “work to live” societies.
Surely humans are not so simple as to be divided so, well, simply.
If so, I can see how I certainly live in a “Live to Work” society: Japan. And I was raised in one as well, in the U.S.
Both places tend to value creation and accumulation of wealth as defined in monetary and material gain.
As a result, I know I have been influenced by that thinking. Have you?
Do you have difficulty attempting to wrap your head around the concept of a “work to live” society?
What would it be like? How would the day unfold?
The judgmental feeling of “laziness” or “idleness” seem to pop up when I start down the path of mental exploration.
Hamstringed by Working Class Mentality
The value of the hour, the value of the day. Exchanging time for money. The majority of us learn trading the ultimate limited resource for an unlimited resource. I sell you my time (limited, because I will never be able to get my time back) for your unlimited resource of money. As far as I know, the world, since the concept has been introduced, has never run out of money. Kinds of money, sure. But not money itself. Even since the days thousands of years past when gold was first used as money, until today, we have never run out of such a rare mineral. But time… as measured in a life, constantly vanishes, for individuals, at least.
Living, or expending our time, toward the exchange of time for money exemplifies the Live To Work mindset. It’s a relic of the Industrial Age, a working class mentality – a mentality necessary to propel our societies forward through the honorable pursuit of hard work.
Rising Above Constrained Thought Into Unlimited Thought
The Creative Mindset represents an alternative to the “live to work” and “time for money” paradigm.
The Creative Mindset values on-going recompense for a set period of creation. Planning, execution, correction, deployment, and more correction are the inputs, the “work” that happens. But after the initial work, the product becomes an asset that continues to pay the creator behind it. Perhaps, however, not indefinitely.
A business owner or founding team that, after the business is built out and profitable, offers an example of creative effort for on-going returns. The initial creators then either stay involved on a day to day basis, or entrust the enterprise to those who continue to honor the working class way of life with their daily participation. (I’d also argue if the creators do stay on, they are split between the two mindsets…)
Another example: the actor that receives payment in royalties. They act once and continue to receive payments when syndication takes off.
These endeavors create a body of work. The creative process in these situations support the idea of humans having the purpose of creativity, a purpose of work.
If I Didn’t Work All Day, What Would I Do
Getting back to the idea of Work To Live lifestyles, a question came up in my head: what would I do when I am not working?
Initially fear creeps in. Shockingly, you would have to face… yourself. Sit with your own thoughts. Confront your darkest mind deep within. If the confrontation didn’t occur immediately, no doubt it would eventually.
That darkness emerges, if we follow it deep enough, into a fear of death.
Conquer the Fear of Death and All of Life Belongs to You.
By fear of death, I don’t refer to fear of pain, or having a painful death. I mean the actual cessation of our own individual life as we know it. (Although overcoming the fear of pain will take you a long way, too.)
Coming to terms with death is a double edge sword. Life could open up to you like an oyster, revealing an endless supply of pearls (of wisdom). Or it could become completely pointless.
Defining Your Own Purpose
Want to avoid the trap of seeing life as pointless? Create your own purpose. Surely everyone has a purpose in life. That old saying is true. But I think we somehow get the wrong idea that we have to “find” our purpose.
Defining your own purpose more accurately represents the process. And it may require dozens iterations to define the purpose you like best.
And maybe that is the reason of it all: to spend the time exploring the possibilities.