It Doesn’t Take Much to Feel Fulfilled

I once told someone who seemed to be very unhappy that she needed to get something that was “just for her.” She thought I was telling her to get a job which she didn’t financially need, or that she should buy something. She felt resentful that I didn’t think the money earned by her partner was also hers.

When I realized the confusion, I rushed to clarify. I wasn’t referring to money. Who cares about money, as long as you have food, clothing, and shelter? Money really doesn’t bring you happiness. I know a lot of very unhappy rich people.

No, I was referring to having something that she could do to bring her fulfillment. Something she could take pride in. Something that would give her satisfaction. It doesn’t have to do with money or things, necessarily. It just should be something that was hers.

And it turns out, according to this article, that work is strongly linked with mental health, but I would define work a little more broadly than this author does. I’d include volunteering as work. I’d also include having a project that matters to you.

Most of us in America work 40 hours a week. That is thanks to unions. Before that, many people were forced to work nearly every waking moment of their lives. Needless to say, this led to burnout and did not provide any sort of life satisfaction.

While I’m grateful for unions for some employment respite, I have no idea how they arrived at that particular number of hours per week. But because of that, we’ve kind of gotten into the habit of thinking that anything less than that is not a “real” job. That, to me, is a shame.

According to this article, there is a premise that as technology increases, there will be fewer work opportunities for the average person. Therefore, a study was conducted to determine what the minimum amount of hours should be per week in order to get the mental health boost one receives from working. This boost comes in the form of emotional fulfillment, a routine, social interaction, shared goals, variety, and identity.

The fascinating conclusion that the researchers reached was that we only really need to work 8 hours a week for mental health. From 9 hours to 48, the emotional boost doesn’t increase, nor does it decrease. After 48 hours, mental health drops off precipitously, as it does for those who do no work at all by my definition.

So, yeah, I could see myself working 8 hours a week. Of course I’d need some sort of basic income to supplement that, but as we begin to realize that capitalism isn’t the perfect philosophy it has been trumped up to be, we’re considering basic income as a possible solution, too. Sign me up!

Whatever plans the world implements, I strongly suspect that I wouldn’t recognize the society we create 50 years from now. And that excites me, even though I won’t be around to experience it. I genuinely do not believe that humans were put on this earth to be cogs in an industrial wheel, and I foresee creativity and art and imagination blooming when we’re given time to stretch those wings.

Hey! Look what I wrote! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

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