The Reality of Work: Can It Be Satisfying?

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By Anthony Dryden

This is an independently submitted op-ed for our Quill section. Views and statements made in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Tower.

Work is a central part of the human condition. It has been with us always and will be with us always in one way or another. For us Catholics, it is part of God’s command to us. “And the Lord God took man, and put him into the paradise of pleasure, to dress it, and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15 DRB). Or, as another translation puts it, “The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it” (Genesis 2:15 NAB).

To dress, keep, cultivate, and care. The reality is not many of us tend the land anymore to provide for our family, but we work to do so in other ways. Throughout the ages, people have understood this to be a reality. However, like many things, this once universally understood reality has been challenged. People now in greater numbers refuse to work (unless they find their “dream job” or just in general), citing the notion that work is not satisfying.

What gives you satisfaction? Work cannot satisfy us fully, it’s part of a broader picture that gives you that feeling. What you are working for should give you satisfaction. A notion that the reasons people work for, traditionally being family and community, are well taken care of, provides content and happiness.

In my opinion, this fulfillment has been changed by the familial decline. Thus, marriage is also in decline with the “Growth in the single population” continuing to increase. Statistically, this comes out to 39% of men and 36% of women. With relation to work, “prime-working-age single adults” (“adults ages 25 to 54”), are also increasingly single, 36% of the population.

This, along with the decline in the community, has led people to the conclusion that work is the end all be all in terms of life satisfaction. There is this massive search for the right job for someone. Each of us has unique gifts bestowed upon us by our Creator. These gifts can correspond to an individual having an inclination towards a specific job, however, it is more likely that it would be a range of jobs.

When eventually someone is not satisfied with their work, oftentimes they quiet quit or quit altogether. Thus sending them on an infinite spiral of searching for something that is right for them. Now, there is nothing wrong with searching for the right job for oneself. However, the problem lies when people believe that this right job will provide them with complete and total satisfaction.

It is human nature to always be searching for more, thus it is necessary for there to be something to keep us grounded. What keeps people grounded and what will keep them, is faith and family. Humanity will always have this longing that can only be filled by God. Nonetheless, our time on earth is also filled with longings that can be fulfilled via family.

One works to provide, not just merely for himself, but for the ones he loves. This is how even a job you don’t particularly enjoy can be satisfying. The knowledge that one is doing all they can, sacrificing (themselves to a job they don’t enjoy in this case) what they need for a worthwhile purpose.

Therefore, I believe that satisfaction does not come fully from the work. The satisfaction comes from using the work. Using your work to ensure that those around you are well taken care of and provided for. Making a stable environment for your family, one in which faith can flourish is another way satisfaction can be achieved. Work is the means to satisfaction, not satisfaction itself. It is important for future generations to understand this so that their lives may be ordered correctly and lived to the fullest.

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