January 1st, 2023 | Hard Work Makes Me High.
I have always worked hard since I was 6 or 7 years old, and I can tell you: life of a person who genuinely enjoys working is much harder than you might think.It always bugs me how people tend to judge you depending on how you spend your time. There are so many stereotypes floating around!
In this article, I talk about my love for hard work and why I believe people should be more tolerant toward others when it comes to working patterns.
New Year’s Eve of My Dreams.
This year, after a whole month spent at my parents place — including numerous wonderful meetings with family and friends — I decided to spend my New Year’s Eve in a way I enjoy the most: by myself and working.
I was home alone. I heard the sound of fireworks behind the window, but it wasn’t tempting at all. I just kept on typing on the keyboard. Click, click, click! — this sound is honey to my ears! I kept on working, and when the time came (to read: midnight), I… went to sleep instead of cheering.
In the morning, I thought to myself: oh my God, the was the New Year’s Eve of my dreams! But hey, am I normal? And by that occasion, I feed the need to confess my love for work on paper.
What Makes Us Feel High?
You’ve probably heard of the “runner’s high.” It is a legendary euphoric feeling coming right after an intense exercise (not necessarily running). In this state, the body releases a massive dose of endorphins to the muscles to prevent pain and endocannabinoids to the brain. Endocannabinoids are biochemical substances similar to cannabis but naturally produced by the body, and they put the brain in the state of relaxation.
Although I heard of runner’s high, I never experienced it myself — possibly because I avoid intensive exercise and long-distance running. Sports are just not my thing; I prefer natural movement during the day with a little bit of extra activity like occasional sports.
BUT, when I listen to testimonials fro people who experienced runner’s high, one thing always come to my mind: hey, that’s exactly how I feel … after the whole day of hard work — every day. Work just makes me high.
The “Workaholic Stigma.”
I have always worked hard since I was 6 or 7 years old, and I can tell you: life of a person who genuinely enjoys working is much harder than you might think.
It always bugs me how people tend to judge you depending on how you spend your time. There are so many stereotypes floating around! If they see you working hard, they usually think that you are either money-driven, fame-driven, or just mentally ill. If you openly admit that you highly enjoy working, you will be easily called a “workaholic” or a person affected by ergomania — which is a mental condition.
The most detrimental stereotype is probably that working long hours means that you value work higher than relations with people. Just try to reveal on Tinder that your hobby is working for as long as you almost pass out, as see how much interest from the opposite gender you will get. Or, say that in a job interview and see how happy the recruiter will be.
The thing is: hard work is a sign of mental illness only when it leads to problems with health or relations. Which is funny, because the more I work, the healthier on my mind and body I feel, and the more interesting people I meet.
And frankly speaking, sometimes I wish I had more distractions from work. The issue is: more often than not, nothing around me is interesting enough to pull me away from my fascinating professional activities.
For a person with high affinity to work, it is extremely hard to meet people who are alike — for obvious reasons, as they spend their evenings on working rather than going out.
I would be most happy if I was living around people who are so captivating that I eagerly throw my laptop away and dine with them. Yes, there are places in the world where such people are in abundance – but it’s not here in the Netherlands.
A Little Truism: We Are All Different.
To my mind, working 70 hours a week doing something you love is such healthier than working 20 hours a week doing something you hate. Most of the ultra hardworking people I have ever met, were happy for that exact reason: their extra work was a labor of love.
With the need for work, it is the same as with diet or sleep — we have our individual needs and our individual rhythms. While one person will be entirely done after 4 hours of intensive work a day and cannot focus on creating anything anymore, another person will enjoy 8 or 12 hours a day of enthusiastic, energetic working. In fact, you can work entirely without fatigue for as long as you can keep your mind in a flow state.
I don’t understand why we are all squeezed into the same “norms” according to which we should work 8 hours a day or otherwise, something is wrong with us. Does anyone try to persuade you that you are abnormal if you sleep more or less than 8 hours a day?
And the paradox is: it is apparently a faux pass to announce that you just love your job, or otherwise the majority who don’t, feel bad about themselves. And that’s despite the fact that love for your work is, allegedly, what everyone seeks in life. I wonder why people don’t report the same problem looking at happy couples manifesting their love. Isn’t that hypocrisy?
Consumerism vs Love For Work.
And as a matter of fact, we are conditioned to be consumers since the early age. Namely, to spend all the possible time and money on things and “experiences” that we don’t necessarily need.
It is enough to put on the TV screen to learn what we are supposed to do in our free time: buy vacations, tickets to a football match, a concert, or a dinner in a restaurant. Buy all this experience and then photograph everything and look cool on Instagram.
Buy a new car, a pizza, new roller skates, jogging pants, smartwatch, a hot new video game, yet another streaming service, a new diet, and a course of Japanese for beginners. Buy a bunch of cosmetics and diet supplements, and stand in front of the mirror for hours looking for your first wrinkle. Buy all the gadgets. Spend, spend, spend… Spend all your free time and money. You don’t want to fall behind the rest and become a boring person, do you?
No one will tell you: hey, you know what… You don’t need all this stuff. Just live a simple life and do what you enjoy. Which might be just working away from the crowd.
As a result, working little (often mispronounced as “work-life balance”) has become a sign of status of sorts. For more, working more than 40 hours a week has become stigmatized. Especially in the Netherlands where I live, people seem to feel proud for working as little as possible and sucking as much as possible from their employers for it.
In Poland where I am from, hard work also has changed its status. Poland used to be a relatively poor country when I was small, and back then, being hard working was seen as a noble trait as it was compulsory to even survive. These days, people tend to flex with free time and all the gadgets and “experiences” that they can get instead.
Can’t Working Be Just Pleasant?
I feel that to the public opinion, working is — by definition — unpleasant and unhealthy. Even the hustle culture (represented, as an example, by Gary Vee) tells you that you need to push yourself to do the heavy lifting in the name of success rather than just learn to enjoy the process.
While the only way to do yet anything effectively is to learn to enjoy it, as beautifully explained by Andy Huberman, a Professor of neuroscience at Stanford University. I dream of the world in which people just find the work they enjoy or learn to enjoy their work (or both!) and don’t compare with each other.
And it all boils down to the same simple question as usually: “How to be happy?” To some people, happy family life is enough to achieve life satisfaction and they would be perfectly fine not working a day in their life.
To others, family life is not enough — they also need to find fulfillment at work. And, for as long as they don’t achieve their professional goals, they are grumpy, bitter, and usually also unsuccessful in their relationships. And for those people, including me, fighting for job satisfaction means fighting for good relations with people at the very same time.
My Personal Approach To Work.
And I am an expat so spent the first 25 years of her life in Poland and the last 12 in the Netherlands. Plus, I’ve been traveling to the US quite often both in my twenties and in my thirties. At work, I always aim to make best out of all these three cultures.
The Polish are hard-working by nature. We are little philosophers who spend a ton of time on thinking about life and we pedal hard. BUT, we also also individualistic, sometimes jealous of each other, and generally inefficient.
The Dutchmen on the other hand, are highly utilitarian: they think about public good, choose to live in a modest, sustainable way, and work well in teams. However, they are spoiled, in a sense that they don’t make as much effort anymore, don’t like to break status quo, and like to complain about everything.
Lastly Americans are deal-makers: positive, active, creative, tuned to build value and make money on it. It’s in their blood. However, as fast as they make money, they also spend money. They often behave like thoughtless consumers who would buy almost anything just because it’s colorful and they don’t have it in their garage just yet.
So, at work, I aim to be as hard working as a Polish person, as minimalistic and utilitarian as the Dutchmen, and as entrepreneurial as Americans.
Last Words: Don’t Judge Too Quickly.
When I was very young, it was shocking to me that people seemed to have more trouble with me working hard than me drinking or partying hard, cursing, running fro home as a teen, not responding messages, or neglecting some of my duties. This made me feel ashamed of my love for work.
As you can see, I am not ashamed of my pro-hardcore-work tendencies anymore. To me, work is prayer, meditation, sport, relax — work is life. I just enjoy the feeling of fatigue from working — I would compare it to a combination of two feelings: feeling high after smoking good weed and the feeling of euphoric satisfaction after passing a finish line at a marathon. It almost feels like flying.
It took me quite a while to realize that I don’t need to be like everyone else and I can just enjoy spending my time my way regardless how “not cool” it looks to others. I even coined my own motto around this thought: “Go for what’s yours in your own way.”
So, don’t judge. If you bump into someone whose face is pale from everyday effort at work, this person might be more happy and more focused on building relations with people than you can imagine.
The only issue that I can see about me working hard, is that it makes me accept the status quo. If you enjoy what you do and how your life works at the moment, why would you change or improve anything? Why would you get out of your homeostasis and try something new if you already reached a perfect balance and maximal satisfaction from your daily life?
And the’s the exact plan for 2023 — to push myself a little more and do new things that might disturb my daily working rhythm but can eventually put my life on a whole new level.
Please cite as:
Bielczyk, N. (2023, January 1st). Hard Work Makes Me High. Retrieved from: https://nataliabielczyk.com/hard-work-makes-me-high/
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