living to work or working to live?

Think about how much time you have spent working and how much time you have left for the ones you love, friends, family, and also yourself. Is it balanced? If not, what can you change?

“The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.” (The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus).

In his writing about the absurdity of human existence, Camus believed that human beings were not supposed to be living in this world. He used Sisyphus as an example of how life is imagined. Sisyphus’ efforts pushing the rock up the mountain are, according to Camus, similar to the challenges of life. He goes on to write that even if we work really hard to achieve goals, we may achieve nothing in the end. So, if life has no meaning, does that mean life is not worth living? Are we living only to work, mirroring Sisyphus’ own struggles—or are we working to live?

Mohamed El-Erian, the chair of Microsoft’s Investment Advisory Committee recently wrote on the subject:

“One day, my daughter asked me to wait a minute. She went to her room and came back with a piece of paper. When my daughter pointed out all the special events and things I was missing, I realized that something had to change. The list contained 22 items: her first day at school, first soccer match of the season, parent-teacher meeting and a Halloween Parade. I felt awful and got defensive. I had a good excuse for each missed event! Traveling, important meetings, urgent phone calls, etc. But it dawned on me that I was missing an infinitely more important point. My work-life balance had gotten way out of whack, and the imbalance was hurting my very special relationship with my daughter. I was not making nearly enough time for her.”

Another important aspect of a healthy work-life balance is how you actually view your job. Step back and ask yourself: Am I happy with my life as it is right now?

At the end of his book, Camus writes that Sisyphus realized he would continue to face challenges despite no chance of success. Once he accepted the misery of his condition, Sisyphus also recognized that life was nothing more than a struggle of absurd proportions.

When people accept their fate, accept who they are and what they are capable of, they may find genuine happiness. Once we know more about ourselves and accept it, we can live with greater joy.

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