When I was young, I was lucky to observe “successful” people and they were always eager to tell me that hard work is the key to success.
However, these influential people in my formative years probably taught me more about how not to do things, than how to do them.
Overwhelmingly, the rich or “successful” people I’ve met throughout my life have been chronically stressed, depressed, and resentful.
Where did it all go right?
I tried to obtain the goals my parents and elders set for me.
But, largely as a result of my failure at following the route my parents’ set out for me, I decided to look for alternatives to it.
What else could I do to save me from this life: work hard, pay mortgage, pay pension, have kids, work harder, get ill, die?
I asked myself why? Why do we have to work so hard?
We strive for goals, but often we forget to ask ourselves what are the benefits of these goals?
We find ourselves obsessed with cutting a path through a jungle and forget to look up to see if we’re going in the right direction.
The same is true on a global scale. We’ve been obsessed with economic growth and competition whilst ignoring the impact upon ourselves and the environment.
Indeed, in the amazing book Sapiens, historian Yuval Noah Harari says that the first agricultural revolution around 10,000 years ago, actually made humans work harder and eat more unhealthily.
This agricultural revolution certainly increased the amount of food for humans to eat. But this caused a population explosion so that the average farmer worked harder than the average hunter gatherer, and got a worse diet to boot.
Thousands of years ago we said to each other, “if we band together and work hard for a short time and store up all this food, we’ll never go hungry again!” How wrong we were!
Luxuries become necessities and spawn obligations
In another great book A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle questions the pursuit of goals or any future dream without concentrating on the present moment experience.
… after two years of intense stress you finally manage to come out with a product or service that sells well and makes money. Success? In reality, you spent two years polluting your body as well as the earth with negative energy, [and] made yourself and those around you miserable …
How many times have you said to yourself, “if I work hard for a short time now, I’ll be happier in the future.” And it didn’t make you any happier.
Why do we burden ourselves with unrewarding, unchallenging, boring work now just because we think it’ll make us rich in the future?
How can we be sure it’ll make us rich? And then, if we become rich, how can we be sure it’ll make us happy?
Working hard hinders creative thought
Hard work, in its traditional sense, robs you of creativity, curiosity, and the ability to embrace change.
You go to work and sit behind the same desk, in the same cubicle, for the same company, five days a week. And there you get told what to do. You tap at your computer, make a few calls, and try make your boss happy.
But what if your boss wants you to work in a way that you don’t want to? You’ve still got to do what your boss says. That’s hard work.
What if your company decides that artificial intelligence or a robot would do your job better than you. That’s hard work putting you out of work.
So, where are you going with this, Rob, what’s the alternative?
I don’t have all the answers. And, of course, I appreciate that we have bills to pay, families to feed, and daily needs to support in order to survive.
I have discovered that giving yourself a break from a hectic life and letting your mind wander can foster great and creative ideas.
Change. The only constant in the universe is change and, especially as you get older, you have to embrace the change.
Embrace the strange
I’m not a neuroscientist but I believe that our brains, just like our bodies, can be trained to improve. And, cognitive improvements can occur at any age.
If you remain within your comfort zone and never do anything to push your body or mind, they will weaken and you will age quicker.
Constantly accepting change and constantly learning new skills will, therefore, stand us in good stead.
Here are some suggestions:
- Read a book on a new subject you don’t usually read about
- Learn a new language (either a spoken language or a programming language)
- Go somewhere new everyday
- Play computer games (of a type you don’t usually play)
- Play board games (of a type you don’t usually play)
- Go to a meet up, conference or a retreat with a load of strangers and force yourself to talk to them (scary for introverts)
- Learn to dance (a proper dance like salsa not just jumping up and down in time to music, which is all I’m able to do)
- Learn to play a new musical instrument
- Meditation. Meditation is the best way to rewire neural pathways and encourage more focussed, creative thinking.
So, it’s not that hard work per se is bad. But, doing the same thing day-in day-out or having the same weekly routines is detrimental to our mental well-being.
If you want to know more about the above and meditation you could read my book Mind Freedom: Re-program Yourself for Success and Happiness with Meditations, Affirmations, Mindset Shifts. It’s about the personal development habits I adopted that all had a positive affect on my life.
If you’d like to read it on Kindle, buy the paperback, or listen to it, please click on one of the below links.
What do you do to re-wire the neural pathways in the brain and freshen up your experience? Is there anything else we can do to escape the monotony of our comfort zones and working routines?
I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment down below.