THERAPY CAN BE EXPENSIVE. Work is cheap
they even pay you for it! When your work is challenging
enough to fully compel your attention, but not so challenging
it outstrips your ability, you enter The Enjoyment Zone, where
your attention is focussed on what youre doing, where youre
experiencing the pleasure of being engrossed and engaged in what
youre doing, where the petty worries and frustrations that
normally plague your mind have no foothold. And whether or not
you work in The Enjoyment Zone is up to you, not the job. You
can make your job into an enjoyable pursuit.
If you want to read more about that, read
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyis excellent book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
When you can work in that enjoyable state
of concentration, youre giving yourself an excellent form
of therapy. Work can be therapeutic! It can heal and restore
your mind. It can rid you of depression, negative moods, and
feelings of helplessness. And it can give you confidence and
One of the things that contributes to negative,
unpleasant emotions is rumination: dwelling on thoughts
you can do nothing about, running negative and self-defeating
thoughts through your head over and over, convincing yourself
ever more thoroughly of the validity of your misery. Once these
kinds of thoughts get going, theyre hard to stop. You feel
bad, you think about your situation in a negative way because
you feel bad, and then the negative way youre thinking
just makes you feel worse. The thoughts arent doing you
any good. The best thing you can do is stop thinking about it,
but you cant seem to do that. Youre like a train
on a track, and theres nowhere to go but down.
Engaging work takes your mind off that
track. Like distracting a crying baby with a rattle, your mind
gets sent in a new direction.
And while youre working, youre
causing an effect. Even moving your fingers on a keyboard
causes an effect. Helplessness is a core symptom of depression,
contributing to it and often causing it. Productive work proves
you are not helpless, so simply doing your work can lessen
or even eliminate a bout of depression.
Also, when you work in The Enjoyment Zone,
your skills improve. One inevitable consequence of challenging
work is an increase in competence and expertise. This gives you
confidence and self-esteem not based merely on the encouraging
words of a therapist, but based on real evidence.
Work cannot accomplish everything therapy
can, but it can do a great deal of therapeutic good far
more good than leisure (most leisure produces nothing: it doesnt
increase skills, competence or self-esteem, and it doesnt
engage your mind enough to stop ruminations). Work has, however,
been an effective therapy for generations of people. And it can
work as well for you.
Get to work keep it challenging,
but not stressful.