Office Space is one of my favorite movies. It really has a great way of depicting a lot of the bullshit experienced in office environments, has a great representation of burnout, and explores the psyche of work.
So, when we talk about work, what are we really talking about? Are we talking about a role that we have, which imbues a certain level of social status? Maybe we’re talking about our manual, physical, emotional, and psychic labor? Or about how we accrue resources to survive in our environment? Perhaps it’s when a force causes a displacement of the point of application, in the direction the force was moving? Or maybe it’s the change in potential energy? The acts of creation and destruction? Is it what we do to find meaning?
The word itself is an absolutely fascinating study in semantic processing, (the brain processing that occurs after we hear a word and encode its meaning) because when words have multiple definitions and values associated with them, they tend to store differently than other words. Hebb’s rule of learning is summarized as cell’s that fire together, wire together. Studies have supported this theory, demonstrating that when we hear the word run, our motor cortex gets activated and when we hear the word sun our visual processing get activated. So what happens when we hear the word work?
Hopefully for you it feels something like this:
However a lot of people might stop and say…
And that probably comes in if you’re working at a place that might be sending you towards burnout. Some of the biggest contributors to burnout include when our workload is too much and the resources are too low.
And when our work conditions don’t align with our values.
Other factors included when the culture isn’t fair,
When work gets stagnant, or feeling micromanaged or too constricted.
And in response to such stressful conditions (conflicting values, expending too much energy, injustice, stagnation, and restriction) symptoms like fatigue, exhaustion set in.
Burnout also causes cynicism,
and social withdrawal.
So when all of that sets in and we hear the word work, I wonder what if we’re hearing all of those things.
Or maybe it’s…
When ideally when we hear about work we should want something that is so important as to include our values, creativity, identity, and resources to feel more like:
Einstein said that as technology increased, and we could reduce the labor that all people need to do, that we should spend more time pursuing the arts. And as we approach an era where we have 10 billion humans, higher rates of productivity, and increased automation, I wonder how our relationship to work will change. I wonder how we will change our potential energy, into kinetic energy? And as I think about resources, values, money, energy, and labor, I hope I continue to create love, compassion, healing, growth, fulfillment and prosperity. I hope the same for you. Until next time, be well.