Home Columnists Mary Theresa Lowndes: Work gives meaning to everything

Mary Theresa Lowndes: Work gives meaning to everything

Hopefully science will find a cure or a vaccine fairly soon for this vicious virus. But for some time to come our economy will be in turmoil and hopefully bit by bit it will build back up again.

Many will be unemployed but after recovery I would like to see meaningful and fulfilling work for everyone of working age.

Work gives meaning to life and brings fulfilment. Whether we work as homemakers, carers. farmers, labourers, cleaners, porters, artists or professionals every job is important to society.

To get up in the morning and have meaningful work to do is a blessing. Work should bring fulfilment and a reason to get out of bed everyday. There is an old saying “idle hands is the devil’s delight” and that is very true.

It is also tragic if someone is working in a job they hate and they don’t have the confidence or courage to retrain for something different. Or maybe the person needs the money to support the family and therefore is trapped in a job he or she hates.

Or there might be bullying and exploitation in the workplace. The workplace whether it be a farm, the family home, the factory or wherever needs to be a happy place to work in.

The stress of working in a job you hate or a job where you are not appreciated leads to health problems and can be very hard on mental health. And working in a job you hate can cause strife in the family home too.

Appreciation is the key word. People are not robots and need to be appreciated. As an example we all know that the stay at home housewife was never appreciated by society.

This caused a huge lack of confidence in women and long term dependency knocked their confidence too. Many older housewives felt inferior and put no value on themselves.

Often when asked what they did for a living they would say “I didn’t work, I was only a housewife”. And yet highly intelligent hard working housewives worked hard and had a very demanding and responsible job.

Full time housewives or homemakers are not as common now but a good one is worth her weight in gold both to the family and to society. I have heard women who stay at home say that they can be treated in a condescending manner by women who work outside the home.

They say things like “what do you do all day” or “well for you, sitting on the couch all day watching television”. Statements like that are very cruel. Computers and broadband mean that many people can work from home now and study from home too.

And now due to the pandemic many people work from home. It would be brilliant if work was made available solely for women who stay at home to be homemakers if they wish to avail of it. They could work for a couple of hours per day. It would be great for their confidence and wellbeing.

Cleaners and labourers amongst others often felt undervalued. It is hard to do a job well if one feels taken for granted and of no value.

Employers have a huge role to play in looking out for the welfare of their employees and making sure that they feel appreciated.

This could be done if all employers, whether they employ one person or a hundred people, organised mindfulness and relaxation classes and sporting activities for their workers and this would be great for the psychological welfare of the workers.

This is in the interest of employers too because a decent person treated very well by the employer will contribute more in the long run. When people know that they are not just a number but are valuable contributors it makes a big difference to how they see themselves and the world around them.

There are families who have been unemployed for generations. The long term unemployed have no structure to their lives and no ambition. When the economy is back on its feet governments should not allow anyone to become long term unemployed.

They should have to train for a proper job and hopefully end up with meaningful work and not a community employment programme.

It all begins in the home. Parents who encourage their children and supervise their educational development are giving a great service to their children and to society.

Parents also have a duty to develop their children’s talents and give their children the opportunities to try everything from art to music to sport.

A hobby can sometimes become one’s life work and source of income. Work gives meaning to life, work keeps the mind occupied, work brings fulfilment, work gives a sense of pride and achievement and work provides the means to support one’s self and be independent.

Fulfilling work helps to maintain physical and mental health. Fulfilling work for everyone would see a huge reduction in crime and substance abuse and go a long way in improving the health of the nation.

SEE ALSO – Mary Theresa Lowndes: What does the queing for Penneys say about society?

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Mary Theresa Lowndes describes herself as a 'Golden Oldie' living in her 60s. She went to college late in life as a mature students and has a degree in Sociology and Social Policy from Trinity College and a masters in journalism from DIT.