Friday, 18 August 2017

Does choosing to go on vacation mean you don't enjoy your work?

This question was asked on Quora :

Does choosing to go on vacation mean you don't enjoy your work?
It gave me an excuse for a bit of random philosophizing in my answer:

Not necessarily. We should really look at this from an evolutionary point of view. Early humans were hunter-gatherers. The very concept of work versus leisure did not really exist for them. They just lived. Some of the time they would do things necessary for survival, like hunting and gathering. Sometimes they would just sit around telling stories or singing and dancing, though those things were to some extent also important, forming part of religious rituals or serving as training for the young.
What is striking about their lifestyle though, is its variety. You never knew what the day would bring. Perhaps a good hunt? An attack by a neighboring tribe? Discovery of a bee nest full of honey? Sudden rain?
We tend to think of a life without TV, cell phones and internet connection as one of relentless boredom, but I suspect that “primitive” people actually enjoy more excitement than most of us, simply because there is no set, absolutely predictable routine. I further suspect that this partly accounts for the popularity and addictive nature of social media: it mimics this unpredictable environment. You never know what direction a discussion will take, or whom you will meet next.
Now people who enjoy their jobs are people who find their jobs as interesting as hunter-gatherers find their environment. There are new things happening and new challenges every day. Still, going on vacation makes for yet another bit of variety. Of course, for people who don’t like their job (very often because the job is boringly predictable) their occasional vacation is the only thing that keeps them going.
My uncle was an artist. He loved his job. But he too would have a vacation once or twice per year, during which time he would quite deliberately avoid drawing or painting, just to recharge the batteries, let ideas simmer a bit, and do something different. Now that I work mostly as artist myself, I find the same thing: I love it, but I also enjoy taking the weekend off and getting something else done. During such times I often cook up new ideas for pictures too, so it is not time wasted.

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