Knowing Thyself Takes Werk
According to Gallup, more and more American workers gain a sense of self through their work as opposed to approaching their jobs merely as a means to an end. But why? Is it that the evolution of the workspace has fostered a stronger sense of belonging? Or is it that, more and more, we find our output aligns with our self-identity? Perhaps both.
In today’s modern workspace—which departs from the economics-driven workstation of the past—collaboration and socializing largely informs the layout. This allows for a sense of belonging—a culture—whereby unique identities are free to connect. This was the ideal for philosopher and political economist, John Stuart Mill, who felt that such a freedom was necessary for the development of individuality; and that the cultivation of individuality was one of the leading essentials of well-being.
For author and research professor Brené Brown, belonging is:
The innate human desire to be a part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.
In other words, when we express our authentic selves and connect with one another, we create a sense of belonging whereby our best selves materialize. This is especially true when our output aligns with our self-identity.
When our outputs are closely bound with the self they become a part of the way that we constitute ourselves to the external world. It is in philosopher Martin Heidegger’s, “The Principle of Identity” that we might come to understand why. For Heidegger, human existence can be characterised by our ability to produce things that are reflective of our Being. It follows that our output, as extension of self, is bound with belonging. We are, Heidegger thinks, in a constant state of openness through which we are always “eventing.” This “eventing” is captured by the term Ereignis, which stands for an event of some significance where self-reflexive insight is gained.* In other words, the event of putting our work out into the world buttresses our sense of self and instills in us a sense of belonging.
This is true even of our mistakes; when, from time to time, we may be disappointed in our output. As philosopher Daniel Dennett sees it, mistakes are not just opportunities for learning; they are, in an important sense, the only opportunity for learning something truly new. In fact, the history of philosophy is, in large part, many prominent thinkers making and learning from mistakes. It would seem, then, that our output motivates us to introspect; such that when our work is reflective of self, we are assured that the work we are putting out into the world is the right work we are meant to be doing.
In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates strived to “know himself” as he saw self-knowledge as oriented toward self-improvement. Socrates’ concern was with improving himself and others through examination of all facets of life by way of philosophy. Indeed, Socrates’ lifelong output —philosophizing —made it such that he stood and lived in accordance with his true nature. It would seem, then, that knowing thyself is a continuous journey that takes werk.
You may also like...
Do Good Werk
6 Ways to Make Gen Zs Feel Welcome in the Workplace
Generation Z, or ‘iGen,’ the generation born between 1996 and 2010, are entering the workplace in full force.
People & Places
When Something Golde Stays: An Interview with Golde’s Co-CEOs
“For us it was never a question,” says Issey Kobori, speaking of the decision to build a business with his partner Trinity Mouzon Wofford. At just shy of 27, Kobori and Wofford have secured a host ...
Environmental Intersectionality: Why This Conversation Matters
It starts with trusting communities who know they can harness our planet’s gifts without harming it.
Keep Calm and Activate the Vagus Nerve
Easy and actionable practices for slowing down your system with psychologist Hiroko Demichelis Positive psychologist, Hiroko Demichelis believes that as a society, we have mastered the art of the h...
People & Places
Dr. Sarah Hill: Could Your Birth Control Pill Be Affecting Your Ability to Do Good Work?
When the first oral contraceptive pill was approved by the FDA in 1960, it changed the world. The pill enabled women to have control over how and when they got pregnant, and thus to discover what ...
Better Your Werk
In The Era Of The Side Hustle, Is The Hobby Dead?
Why we should resist the pressure to constantly optimize for profit.
Do Good Werk
9 Passive-Aggressive Email Phrases That Are Basically Evil
A Rosetta Stone for every time you want to :’).
Human beings are wired for connection, but we have to do the work to get there.
Are They Toxic? Or Are They Human?
There’s a difference between putting up boundaries and putting up walls, and the latter is what breaks relationships.
The Ups and Downs of Hormonal Birth Control
The pill has been prescribed for decades, but at what cost?