Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice, and need

Voltaire

“Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice, and need” — this is a quote from the French writer, historian and philosopher: Voltaire. I love this quote. It’s not immediately intuitive though. Work spares us from need — this makes sense as earning money provides shelter, food and pays the bills. What about boredom and vice though? Surely work is the cause of boredom? That’s hard to argue with but it also prevents it. Let’s assume you have a boring job, statistically speaking this is probably true. Later in life, you retire and your boring job is no more: by subtracting something boring it seems logical you’re left with something more exciting. But this isn’t true for most people, in fact, the opposite. Boring jobs make you appreciate your time off, now that you’ve retired and all you have is time-off, you become bored with time-off. And what’s our favourite way to handle boredom? Vice. Whether that be alcohol, binge-watching tv, social media, drugs, gambling. We love vice. Spare time and boredom is a dangerous combination, as they say — “the devil finds work for idle hands”. This is why having a plan for retirement is so important. Retirement won’t be guaranteed joy. Your spare time now should be a rehearsal for retirement. If you don’t have many interests then now’s the time to get some.

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