Labor Day is one of those great American patriotic holidays and pastimes when we honor labor and hard work by taking an extended three-day weekend rest! Is that great or what?
What I actually love is that the holiday’s original purpose was to honor hardworking Americans, just like you and me.
As History.com explained, “Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. … It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894.”
I’m not trying to spoil anyone’s Labor Day rest, because rest is as essential as work.
But the truth is, we need to work. We were created to work. Since the dawn of time, humans have found purpose and pride in their labor. We were born to be productive.
Without work, there is no real success.
That is why Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc., said, “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.”
Margaret Thatcher, former prime minister of England, similarly said, “I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but should get you pretty near.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson said, “Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.”
And I love the way Thomas Jefferson put it: “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
We must also avoid the temptation and pit of making work our top priority. As a great column in The Atlantic explained it, “Workism is making Americans miserable.”
But the fact remains: If we do labor right – that is, in step with our age, health and passions – it can actually have loads of benefits and rewards.
Most Americans likely consider the main benefit of a job being their salary, but there are many more that are arguably even more important.
According to series of studies put out in the Britain in 2016, titled “Improving Lives: Work, Health & Disability,” the right job is absolutely good for your health and can promote recovery.
The Shepherds Friendly Society, one of the oldest mutual insurers in the world (founded in 1826), summarized the studies well in their article “Why the Right Job is Good for Your Health“: “Research has suggested that the right job can be positively life changing; it can support mental and physical health, give individuals a sense of purpose, improve their self-esteem and self-confidence, and also create opportunities to build relationships that help to avoid the emotion [and dangers] of loneliness.”
I believe that we need to lead busy and productive lives, even as we go into and through our Golden Years. That’s one of the reasons I still write my weekly culture war and health & fitness columns, and I am the spokesperson for the newly launched Roundhouse Provisions.
Most of my closest friends are now retired from their career jobs, yet they find purpose (and so much more) by doing something they’ve always wanted to do or volunteering in some worthy cause they are passionate about.
Some even assist in family businesses or even grandkids’ schools or after-school care. No better way to empower and educate the next generation than spending more time with them, right?
As I once heard it, as we age, we move from success to significance.
What that means is, while you spend time leaving a legacy for those you love, you reap a host of benefits for your mind, body and spirit.
Speak of the spiritual, one of my favorite Bible verses endorses productivity when it says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
There’s one last huge benefit of labor I haven’t mentioned: Hardworking Americans are what keep our country’s heart and economy strong and great.
It’s “We, the people,” not government, that keep the wheels of fortune turning and the American dream alive.
Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran, Purple Heart recipient and former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. She was among the first handful of Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Duckworth served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant colonel in 2014.
In 2016, she was elected to the U.S. Senate after representing Illinois’s Eighth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms.
Sen. Duckworth couldn’t have stated it better: “The American Dream I believe in is one that provides anyone willing to work hard enough with the opportunity to succeed.”
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