Want To Appreciate Life More? Maybe You Should Work Harder

“You’ve got to stop and smell the roses, James!”

I laughed when one of my coworkers gave me this advice. As with most cliches, there’s wisdom in this saying. Usually the people repeating the cliche miss it.

Many of us view hard work and the appreciation of life as two opposite things. I’ve come to see things differently.

Since I’ve begun working in earnest with the people and projects I care about, I think I’ve really appreciated the world for the first time.

I do things I never did before I left school. I take longs walks just to watch people and life go by. I make it a point to look up at the stars at night. I literally stop and smell roses sometimes.

I didn’t pick these habits of appreciation up because I’ve developed some rigid system of work-life balancing.In fact, the days I go beyond the 9 to 5 are the most vivid.

I face challenges daily. I grow. I create value. In short, I notice the world around me because I have the joy of making an impact on it.

When my work is hardest, I see the full effort and thought that goes into supporting my life. I see the effort and thought that others put into supporting theirs. The all-nighters, difficult decisions, tough sales, creative challenges, and determination that our work requires of us makes life more precious. The appreciation takes care of itself.

So here’s the truth behind the cliche: you have to actually plant and grow the roses before you’ll have any pleasure in smelling them. Some things worth appreciating may grow wild, but appreciation does not. It has to be earned.

If you really want to savor life, work harder. Don’t just observe the world — start making it turn.

This was originally published at the Praxis blog, where you can find more posts on entrepreneurship, education, personal development, and freedom for every day of the workweek.