Why We Work … So Hard


Even the best job in the world

can be difficult to enjoy on a bad day.

No matter how rewarding your work is,

no matter how much meaning you derive from it,

there are those times when you wonder if it makes sense

to devote most of your waking hours to one pursuit.

“Wouldn’t it be better

to spend part of my day outdoors?” you think.

“Shouldn’t I be helping those in need?

Will I ever find a way

to express the innermost reaches of my soul?”


Taken from “The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work,” from Alain de Botton who asks what is perhaps his most unsettling question yet: What does all this work add up to, in such a short life? After enviously surveying a room full of paintings that present explicit evidence of what the artist has accomplished over the course of several years, he reflects,


“Our exertions generally find

no enduring physical correlatives.

We are diluted in gigantic intangible collective projects,

which leave us wondering

what we did last year and, more profoundly,

where we have gone

and quite what we have amounted to.

We confront our lost energies

in the pathos of the retirement party.”






~ by eaesthete on 06/13/09.

2 Responses to “Why We Work … So Hard”

  1. I have read two of his books and adored both. This was a great reminder to check the library tomorrow.

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