Home-Work Ain’t Always Fun

By David Ryback, Ph.D.

Over the years, it’s become clearer and clearer that money is not the top motivator—it’s just the easiest to count.  We’re learning, over time, that the meaningful aspects of work have much more to do with feeling appreciated for our efforts than how much we bring home in our pocketbook.  Meaning also comes from the challenge of dealing with new situations.  It’s the newness or variety in work that makes it meaningful and pleasurable.  According to Dr. Gregory Berns, author of Satisfaction: The Science of Finding True Fulfillment, “Understanding that the pleasure money confers is significantly increased by the work done to earn it turns upside down a basic tenet of economics—that work is a negative and money is a positive.  I think it is the other way around.”  But it’s much easier to talk about money than it is about wanting to feel appreciated.  So money remains the superficial currency of human value in the marketplace.

If that’s the case, then what’s so special about the privilege of staying at home and telecommuting?  Truth is there may be a problem there.  There is a deep, pervasive need to connect with others on a daily basis.  Working at home may be convenient in terms of comfort and flexibility but it doesn’t do much for feeling connected with others in the flesh.  There’s something about the structure of traveling to a place where there are others to share a workspace, and interact on a social basis, that is highly meaningful.  That awareness in itself gives you a leg up on making your work more meaningful and enjoyable.

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