Monday, February 23, 2009

Enjoying work?

~From Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely, pages 42-43:

Of course, Mark Twain came to the same conclusions: "If Tom had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do." Mark Twain further observed: "There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line in the summer because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work, and then they would resign."

This is more of a quote within a quote, because my post here is really in response to what Mark Twain said. I don't think what he said implies that a price can be stuck on anything at all and people will then be willing to pay for it; humans are not absolute complete idiots. However, how we view what we do is affected by why we think we're doing it. I've observed this first-hand with some of my hobbies, especially computer programming. I enjoy the act of programming when I feel that I'm in control, when I feel that I'm programming something for my own self-interest. But when I know I'm doing it for homework, as an assignment, it instantly becomes dreadful work that I hate doing. It makes no sense, I'm doing the same dang thing, why oh why do I suddenly begin hating it? I've observed it, but it seems there's really nothing I can do to change what I feel. Even though I know it's all psychology, I just can't trick myself into enjoying it if I feel like I don't have a choice. I wish there was a way I could but I haven't discovered it. And this goes for even something like cleaning my room. If I decided to clean my room, the task didn't make me very angry, but if my parents then commanded me to clean my room, it turned into a chore, and I began hating it in the middle of doing it. That really makes no sense if you think about it, but that's how my psychology works, and I can't think of any way to change it. :-(



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