Decipher why modern work has a psychological impact on us

We all want a philosophy to give meaning to the world. To rationalize our behavior. Sometimes we even risk briefly living our philosophy. For a very long time, I have cultivated a very anti-work attitude, and around it I have my own little work philosophy. I always thought that work, to be precise, work, was a kind of prison. My biggest problem with work isn’t the hard work but what it does to our essential character. What you become as a person has a lot to do with the values, behaviors, and temperaments that your work rewards.

For example, I observed the cashier in the canteen, who I eat very closely for almost a week. He and his son take turns in the management of the place. They speak exactly the same way. There is not a moment’s respite in their life. All the while, they run the canteen on a war footing, giving instructions on several verticals at the same time. The son learned the trick of the trade from his father, that’s obvious. The father is always cranky – he argues with customers and employees. The son, however, has not yet become as boring as the father. Admittedly, they run the canteen very efficiently.

Despite the sound of decibel screams that occur, you get delicious hot, home-cooked food at a great price, with little waiting time. If he didn’t keep a close watch, shout at every little mistake, ask customers to leave as soon as they had finished eating, would his business be as successful? Probably not. And, these essential elements of his work, have now become a deeply rooted part of his personality. As if he didn’t exist outside of his job.

All managerial work requires us to shout, control and monitor every little movement of the team. Keeping track of time, money and other resources is the main job of a manager. And, most jobs are managerial in nature, at least those that pay half a decent salary. The more senior you become, the more managerial your work becomes. And that’s the kind of job I fear the most. Management becomes part of you. And, you tend to lose the sweetness, your humanity. You refuse to accept faults and give a long rope to someone who could have made a real mistake.

I was forbidden to enter the kitchen at my parents’ house because my father was obsessed with cleanliness and perfectionism which he learned during his training in the hospitality industry. I love to cook but I spoil the cooking. It was also the main reason I started living on my own when I lived in the same city as my parents. Just so that I could cook my own food in my own kitchen without my father’s harassment and supervision. My father’s training in the hospitality industry had made him obsessed with perfection, affecting my relationship with him due to my tendency to be a friendlier person.

Our work also tends to trap us in an unnatural routine. I don’t like the idea of ​​working on a rainy day because it makes me gloomy, on a windy day because it makes me want to sit and read a book in the garden, on a sunny winter morning when I feel like going for a walk on a dry autumn evening where I feel like going for a walk or listening to sad songs. Seasons change, climates change – and you still have to stick to the same work routine. One of my bosses in my first job told me he was successful because he hadn’t seen the sunset for five years. He was working late at night. He didn’t know what the parties were like. He bragged about it. I dreaded such a prospect. I wanted to quit right away if work meant trading my evenings for the next five years.

I resonate deeply with the poet Charles Bukowski when he says: “How the hell could a man like being woken up at 8:30 am by an alarm clock, jumping out of bed, getting dressed, gorging, shitting, pissing, brushing his teeth and hair and traffic fighting to get to a place where you’ve basically made a lot of money for someone else and been asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so? Or when the Russian philosopher and writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky said: “To crush, completely annihilate a man, inflict on him the most terrible of punishments so that the most ferocious murderer shudders and dreads him in advance, it suffices to give him strength. job. of an absolutely, completely useless and irrational character.

The nature of modern work is such that it is a necessary evil. We have to do it for the little pleasures while canceling out the great pleasures in our life. But there is no escape. We have these sabbaticals where we go to the mountains, work with an NGO, do charitable work. But you always end up coming back to money and working in the big cities with toxic air. They are powerful forces. So what do we do? Stop constantly fighting the urge to quit smoking and keep doing it until we find ways to live and thrive that are more sustainable. But more importantly, watch what our work is doing to us and our behavior while we’re at it.

(The writer is a mental health and behavioral science columnist, conducts art therapy workshops and offers personality development sessions to young adults. She can be found as @the_millennial_pilgrim on Instagram and Twitter. )

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Posted on: Sunday 05 December 2021 at 07:00 am IST

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