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The Great Resignation: Meaning and Peace Off of the Hamster Wheel

The journey to self involves "opening the oyster."

Key points

  • Individuals are resigning from jobs in large numbers since the pandemic.
  • Stress and a busy lifestyle may cause harm to health.
  • Explore the world beyond your street, town, state, or country, and you may find that you discover parts of yourself that you didn't know existed.
Pexels/Julian Jagtenberg
Source: Pexels/Julian Jagtenberg

The “great resignation” seems to have shown us that there’s more to life than toiling for a paycheck. Many in western society have found themselves on the hamster wheel of life, always reaching for the next carrot dangling just beyond our grasp.

Does this ever sound like you? The hamster wheel lifestyle may not only be stressful, but the stress may even be affecting our health–physically and mentally.

A More Meaningful Life

Perhaps there’s a deeper meaning that comes out of the pandemic: a search for a more meaningful and purposeful life. The pandemic’s “great resignation” has been both challenging and positive if we gaze deeper beneath the surface.

We do not have to live paycheck to paycheck; there are other options if one is willing to challenge oneself and think outside–and beyond–the box. Is it time to break open the box? It may not be as daunting as it sounds.

Pexels/Matheus Henrin
Source: Pexels/Matheus Henrin

Maybe we scale back to a minimalist lifestyle and see where the road takes us? Travel to a foreign land and help out the locals, or for those less adventurous spirits, just volunteer in your local community for a worthy cause.

Explore the world beyond your street, town, state, or even country, and you may find that you discover parts of yourself that you didn’t know existed by beginning to challenge yourself.

You can even start by signing online petitions for a cause in which you believe. This may open you up to other ways to help–whether it’s helping people, animals, the planet, or whatever is close to your heart.

Find new and meaningful ways of living, and maybe turn your phone off once in a while. Start with small steps: take a deep breath and watch a sunset, sit under a tree, take a nature hike, dip your feet in a lake or ocean.

Pexels/Kamaji Ogino
Source: Pexels/Kamaji Ogino

Opening the Oyster

Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer on a farm; there are many volunteer opportunities out there. Or perhaps you’d like to join the Peace Corps or become a flight attendant to see the world because, as they say, the world is your oyster–if you’re willing to open the shell.

You may need to dig through a bit of slime to find a pearl, but the journey might just be worth it. So, what are you waiting for?

Throw on that scuba gear or just some comfortable cut-off shorts and dive into a meaningful life.


Wong K, Chan AHS, Ngan SC. The Effect of Long Working Hours and Overtime on Occupational Health: A Meta-Analysis of Evidence from 1998 to 2018. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2019; 16(12):2102.

De Jong, E. M., Ziegler, N., & Schippers, M. C. (2020). From shattered goals to meaning in life: life crafting in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers in psychology, 2648.

Yeung, J.W.K., Zhang, Z. & Kim, T.Y. Volunteering and health benefits in general adults: cumulative effects and forms. BMC Public Health 18, 8 (2018).