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Working To Live VS Living To Work -- Why Focusing on Quality of Life is Problematic

Updated: Feb 8

A young man reflecting on things around him.


Mercenaries in the Marketplace


The vast majority of human beings work in order to live, and do not work for the sake of wanting to contribute to society or humanity in general. Most of them have, what I like to call, the mercenary mindset. Mercenaries work under the same reasoning any other average employee works -- to either maintain or improve their quality of life.


In our hedonistic times, quality of life is seen as one of the ideals of humanity. People chase after happiness, the same as they do after love and wealth. Work is but a means to that end and existence is never the means to work but the other way around.

Work as a Journey, Not a Sentence


You see, logically, the problem with the working-to-live mentality stems from the fact that life is fleeting and uncertain. No amount of work would necessarily grant you happiness or even safety. And yet we work in order to maintain the very little we actually have within our control and influence to either preserve or alter. However, no amount of work will save you from disease, war or the rising costs of living.


In other words, most of humanity dooms its expectations from the very beginning, by hoping and praying for things they cannot preserve or improve. Work, for most of us, does not grant us the ability to control the events happening in one's geopolitical region, for example. This means that if your country goes to war, no amount of work would compensate for the loss of your quality of life, created by said work.


How are we supposed to maintain a quality of life when we lack significant control to do just that? Of course your job helps you maintain a house and feed your family, but it won't likely save your house from being burned to the ground or get hit by an enemy missile. Therefore, the working-to-live mentality is flawed by default and is doomed from the start.


We are not entitled to happiness when happiness is temporary. We of course are entitled to pursue happiness, as we deserve to do if we so desire, but we never deserve to actually reach this fantastical state of parmanent happiness. And obviously, no amount of work would ensure us that, either.


The idea of working to live is making us mentally weak because whatever we want in life will always be fleeting to a degree, as nothing lasts forever. And because of that, we are in constant fear of losing what we have, and I mean that by "mentally weak". I refer to the constant feelings of hopelessness emitting in the back of our minds. Hopelessness, because we lack the power to terminate the fleeting-ness of existence. Anything that we build can fall. Any human connection can end abruptly.


How can we work to live when work is insufficent for a good quality of life and good health?


I am deeply inspired by fictional villains because they have a certain virtue many of us don't have: An inner spark that motivates them to endure failures regularly. Unlike many of us, these characters live to work and not the other way around. They live to make their dreams come true. Their very own lives are but tools; a means to an end. The end that is their own twisted utopia, the end that is their sweet revenge, the end that is attaining their fantasy by making it a reality on Earth.

Idea VS Quality of Life In Work


When you live to work, you put an idea before existence and that is extremely practical because an idea can be far easier to maintain than quality of life! Because no matter how many times you will fail miserably, as long as you have an idea you can work towards, you can have hope that can overcome the regular day-to-day living.


We do not have to live from paycheck to paycheck. We do not have to live to the next rent. There can be something greater than our own lives that we can manifest and have it at play. An idea that can benefit not only ourselves but others as well.


So when I hear rockets exploding around me in the midst of the 2023 Israeli-Hamas war, I remain with little concern or fear. Because even though I've evecuated my own hermitage, I care little, for I live to work and not work to live. My quality of life does not matter to me as much for I put an idea before me. An idea far greater than myself. An idea that can surpass at least several generations after my death!


Yes! Hail Philosocom! It gives me hope in war and outside of war! And I mind less about myself as long as there is work being done! For I am just a tool for my own creation!

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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