“If you love your job, you haven’t worked a day in your life,” Tommy Lasorda, former manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers once said. However, for far too long, Americans have been fed the narrative that we need to make our job our passion, and that without doing this, it is impossible to seek happiness in life.
First and foremost, one of the major problems with this ideology of “workism” is that it is detrimental to individuals. By saying that one’s occupation should supersede all else and provide meaning in one’s life, society actively incentivizes prioritizing employment over family, hobbies, and even mental health. This shift in priorities has even been instilled in children.
A 2018 study by the Pew Research Center found that 95% of teens said enjoying their job or career is important, compared to 81% of teens said helping others in need is important to them.
According to The Atlantic, the concept of workism has set our society up for increases in stress, anxiety, and burnout as people become increasingly disillusioned with this failing ideology. The upward trend of poor mental health that society has seen in the last couple decades has almost perfectly coincided with increases in the number of hours spent at one’s job; workism does not work.
Despite this, American industriousness is often touted as a byproduct of workism. People say that despite burnout, mental exhaustion, and a lack of interest in one’s job, America needs to work harder so we can maintain our “greatness”.
Not only does workism promote nationalism, or the idea that America and its people are superior, but it is simply false. The idea that work should be paramount in one’s life is advertised not because it helps individual employees, but because it benefits employers and the upper class.
According to the New York Times, despite the fact that productivity and efficiency are not boosted as a result of high work hours workism is pushed nonetheless in order to allow the wealthiest individuals in society to continue to exploit workers.
So, in spite of its utter lack of benefits, overwork is still pushed as the ideal lifestyle so that people in power can remain there, exploiting everyone below them on the socioeconomic hierarchy. Workism has brainwashed Americans into believing that our passion needs to be derived from work. Thus, if you are not happy, work longer and work harder.
Although a small minority of people (a number as low as 30% in the United States, a Gallup poll found in 2017) legitimately find value and engagement in their work, by pushing this narrative to everyone, we end up stifling the pursuit of joy outside of the workforce. We shove everyone into the same mold and mindset of working till death, harming social welfare and individual happiness alike.
We need to stop viewing employment as the source of meaning in our lives. A job is exactly what it sounds like: a job; nothing more, nothing less. So stop working a job you “love,” and forgo the mindset that work is the only way to be happy.