Trying to make sense of the world can be difficult, especially when you realize how backwards people’s priorities are.
If you live and breathe in Western culture, I promise that you are being subjected to a socially constructed myth that you’re either “working and paying your dues”, or you’re “being lazy”. There’s no in-between. Enjoyment is greedy, work is good.
When you start to “wake up out of the Matrix”, it becomes apparent that negativity, nihilism, and mental health disorders are the predominant driving forces behind many of the culturally accepted norms, at least in the United States.
The reason so many people in the American workforce are unhappy is because they are being told a lie: getting ahead, scaling the ladder, or making more money are supposed to make you happy.
But this is not true. Any culture with an ounce of wisdom will tell you that what makes you happy are: connections with other people, companionship, new experiences, and discovering yourself. This is why I’ve noticed other, much older countries are more “people oriented” versus being simply career minded.
Americans often assume that other countries, with their midday siestas, month-long vacations and short work-days are therefore lazy and ineffective. Well…
A Bad Work Philosophy Breeds Artificial Selves
If America is far from the most productive country, yet we work the most, what does this say about ourselves?
For one thing, it indicates people are not enjoying their lives. In place of the things we really need, we’re told status, consumerism, and pleasing our superiors is the gateway to happiness. The importance of marriage and relationships are also reinforced; the remnants of the so-called “nuclear family”, but obviously when unhappy people marry it leads to unhappy marriages, hence our high divorce rates.
People also become less authentic by trying to live up to society’s standards. This is difficult to describe, but you have to travel to distant countries to understand what I mean. Insecurities about things like status or popularity makes a lot of people put on fake fronts in desperate attempts to obtain approval and affection.
The Alternative: Enjoying Life
Fortunately, there is a solution: simply shift priorities. Do the unthinkable and put “getting ahead” and climbing your individual or corporate career ladders on the back-burner. Prioritize meeting people and enjoying life.
If you have a million responsibilities, start mercilessly cutting out anything that’s just extra baggage. Make eliminating stress a much greater priority in your life.
If you work two jobs to sustain your lifestyle, consider what material goods you can give up to cut your work week from 80 hours down to 40 hours.
Find ways to supplement your income and turn your full-time job into a part-time. Spend the rest of your extra hours taking dance classes, cooking food, throwing dinner parties, going out, or just relaxing in nature.
(I highly suggest to “ground” yourself in nature as often as you can; watch what an amazing effect it has on your health and sense of balance in the world).
The reason I know that life is meant to be enjoyed is because it’s what our biology screams at us; and yet we ignore it. Stress and its related hormones drastically damage our health and reduce our life expectancies. This is actually evolution hitting us over the head and yelling, “What are you doing?!”. A high stress, high anxiety life makes you more susceptible to heart disease, cancer and other big killers.
Finally, a very important point to make is that we become scared that making lifestyle / happiness / low stress a priority over, say, climbing a corporate ladder or working more, is that you’ll end up a “bum”, you won’t have enough saved for “retirement”, maybe your friends will think you’re a loser.
Nope. By leading a more relaxed lifestyle, your performance will go up. Happiness = greater performance. You’re more likely to become a very successful person by cutting the anxiety out of your life, and giving yourself more space for your imagination to flourish into new ideas.
Try it out, and let me know what happens.