1. Stress keeps you sharp
Do you want to get dumb, fast? Retire today. When people retire, they cannot recall as many words or think as clearly as those of the same age and health who keep at it. Countries that urge people to retire early by heavily taxing work and awarding handsome public pension benefits, end up with stupider old people.
In France and Austria, men in their 60s are far less likely to be working than men in the U.S. and Denmark, for example. The early retirees pay a price. Cognitive ability of men in their 60s dropped twice as much in Austria and France. The retired Viennese and Parisians may enjoy tastier pastries while lounging in their cafes, but they can no longer follow the recipe to bake pastries themselves.
2. Stress at work keeps you young
When we show ambition and take on a new project at work, serotonin and dopamine start flowing more vigorously. Neurons make new connections. The brain renews itself. When you allow yourself to feel ambition it is like sipping from the fountain of youth.
In contrast, when we become less active and less ambitious, serotonin levels slip and gray cells die. If you don't show up for work, or simply lean against the shovel or the photocopier, hoping someone else will do the job, you are skipping a sip at the fountain of youth. For those who are big fans of The 4-Hour Workweek, I would ask, What will you do the rest of the day? Do you want to take the risk of working only four hours?
3. We are built to handle stress
I dedicate my book RUSH to "my ancestors, who managed to avoid getting eaten by saber-toothed tigers, trampled by wooly mammoths, or lost at shipping docks in the 1800s on their way to America."
Every one alive today is the product of evolution. Our ancestors had to do a lot of running, ducking and rushing around to survive the floods, droughts, beasts, and noisy neighbors of the past 50,000 years. Do you think that our minds and spirits are not hardy enough to handle the frustration of a lost cell-phone call?