Posted by: waikatogifted | June 10, 2011

Is it Natural?

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Dr Lynley McMillan continues her series on workaholism, but relax, because you’re out of the spotlight! Today, Lynley is exploring some inferences we may be able to draw from the world of nature:

My cousin offered for me to write this blog, I suspect in a moment of whimsical fancy – when she reads this one she will probably go pallid with regret…

But, seriously, if workaholism is the tendency to work or think about work even when others have stopped, could animals be workaholic? How about the bee – does it stop to put its six little bee-feet up on a flower when it’s wings are tired of flying for a quick afternoon tea break? Or does the crayfish stop snapping at tasty morsels that float past because it is 10.15 am? Or the thrush decide not to sing today because, well, it’s just had enough of singing thanks, and needs a break?

I could go on…and how tempting…but I wonder whether in fact (and I know I am going to get flak for this, so get your typewriters ready), whether maybe, just maybe, workaholism is adaptive? Perhaps it is an evolutionary advantage that enables us to literally make hay while the sun shines? Maybe it enables us to maximise our physical and mental energy while we can? Perhaps the people who are workaholic are actually leading change in this world, because their brains do work more hours in a day than the rest of us?

To be fair, I have actually measured how much more frequently workaholics think about work than non workaholics do – and the difference is big. More than twice as much, in fact. So, if we think about that for a minute, if the brain is running more hours a day – would it not generate more numerous, diverse and creative outputs?

I know you will be ACHING to give me your views already – sock it to me – what do you think? For it, or against it, people?

Note to cousin – am not pallid with regret. Own cat with gift for inertia. Some animals clearly find chilling adaptive too!

Honey bee sucks nectar from a blue borage flower.

Is there a lesson for us in the tireless labours of the honeybee?

This photo is by Flickr member Danny Perez Photography, and has attribution, non-commercial and no derivative works licenses.
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Responses

  1. Interesting. Another thought for the melting pot. If the brain is highly plastic, then what area will be overtaken by the growing area which is involved in the generation of ‘more numerous, diverse and creative outputs?’ Will we become a highly adaptive working being, with greatly reduced physical abilities related to the parts of our bodies which are not involved in our occupation? How much capacity does the brain have to adapt before it starts taking over other functional areas? It brings us back to the whole ‘balance’ debate.

  2. I do a job that requires a very hgh degree of concentration, on a range of very diverse, yet ultimately inter-related tasks, & also requires high physical stamina, & strength is also an advantage.
    Shutting down from this is not easy, & my chosen outlets can appear to the casual observer to be closely related to much of my work…………….

    Ballance?…….does riding a motorbike count?

    • I certainly know some people who think riding a motorbike counts, and if you move on a couple of posts, you will find that Dr Lynley thinks changing gears is definitely important!


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