The Work Paradox:
More Play, Less Pain

“In a culture that sometimes equates work with suffering, it is revolutionary to suggest that the best inward sign of vocation is deep gladness—revolutionary but true.” ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach

People prefer leisure to work—no surprise there. What is surprising is that they report more optimal feelings of being “in the zone” when engaged in work.

This strange, yet revealing, paradox may contribute to why many U.S. retirees experience depression and ultimately return to work.

While we clearly associate leisure with pleasure, we seem to have an unwarranted prejudice against work: We automatically associate it with pain. This belief is so deeply rooted that it distorts our perceptions of actual experiences. It’s a learned response that severely limits our potential for happiness at work.

To achieve professional satisfaction, you must experience—and consciously record—the positive emotions you feel on the job. When we fail to recognize pleasurable moments at work, focusing solely on the negative, we miss out on experiencing more happiness and satisfaction. Each of us must find ways to extract more meaning and fulfillment from the “daily grind.”

This article provides suggestions on how to make work more like play.


This is a brief synopsis of a 800-word article and Article Nuggets*, suitable for consultants’ newsletters for executives and leaders in organizations. It is available for purchase with full reprint rights, which means you may put your name on it and use it in your newsletters, blogs or other marketing materials. You may also modify it and add your personal experiences and perspectives.

The complete article includes these important concepts:

  •  Finding Flow
  • Action Steps
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Making Work More Like Play

If you are a Content for Coaches client and your account is current, no need to order. Send me an email to confirm that you wish to use this article for your next newsletter.

All others please use the order links below.

Order Links to purchase this article:

1.    The Work Paradox: More Play, Less Pain, 700-word Article with Full Reprint Rights, $57 –

2.   The Work Paradox: More Play, Less Pain, 3 Article Nuggets* with Full Reprint Rights,  $64 –

*Article Nuggets: The same article broken up into 3 blog-style sections suitable for a series of blog posts or shorter newsletter articles.


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