Work Hard, Play Hard

Therese Relucio, Stewart AM, Honorbound

Aristotle states that “to be serious and to labour for the sake of amusement seems silly and utterly childish…; for amusement is a sort of recreation, and we need recreation because we are unable to work continuously. Recreation, then, cannot be the end.”[1]

So, basically, Aristotle is saying that working for fun is silly because fun is a part of our leisure time, and leisure time is “utterly childish.” The only reason we need leisure time is to take a break from our work; therefore, leisure time cannot be our end goal. It seems odd to think that leisure time “cannot be the end,” because in the long run, it kind of is. The conventional life cycle seems to be you’re born; you go to pre-school, kindergarten, elementary, middle school, high school, college, maybe post-grad; then you work, you retire, you die. Retirement is essentially the leisure time of life.

My question: do “we need recreation because we are unable to work continuously”, or can we have recreation simply for the sake of recreation? Or is the latter simply a waste of human capital because recreation does not have the end goal of productivity?

In Charles Wheelan’s Naked Economics, “productivity growth is what improves our standard of living.”[2] If working leads to productivity growth, then Aristotle’s notion that working “for the sake of amusement seems silly” is rational. However, the balance between working and leisure is imperative for human beings. Recreation has obvious health benefits. Regularly participating in leisure activities reduces depression and has a higher likelihood of feeling satisfied about life.[3] We cannot work if we are unhealthy, after all.

One company that will put Aristotle’s theory to the test is Google. They have everything from nap pods, treadmill desks, and (the best part) free food, three meals a day, and unlimited snacks. And this is all to ensure that “the rest of a Googler’s career remains productive.”[4]

If Google can do it, work and recreation is possible, and in my opinion, Aristotle is wrong; working for the sake of amusement is completely fine. We need recreation for reasons other than break time. Ultimately, my advice concerning work and recreation is that we need to find a career that offers both the work and recreation. Recreation not necessarily as a perk, but recreation in the work. I think to be truly happy and satisfied with our jobs we need to find work that is so enjoyable to us it doesn’t seem like work anymore, but simply just recreation.

[1] Aristotle. “The Nichomachean Ethics Book X: Chapter 6” In How to Find Happiness Without a Free Lunch: Great Ideas in Ethics, Politics, and Economics, edited by Bernardo Aparicio, 11-16. Dallas: Ursuline Academy of Dallas, 2017.

[2] Wheelan, Charles. “Productivity and Human Capital.” In Naked economics: undressing the dismal science, 126-47. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2010.

[3] Morgan, Rachel. “Importance of Leisure & Recreation for Health.” LIVESTRONG.COM. October 21, 2013. Accessed June 25, 2017.

[4] CBS News. “Inside Google workplaces, from perks to nap pods.” CBS News. January 22, 2013. Accessed June 25, 2017.


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