Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why Can't Americans Enjoy Life?

I read an interesting article the other day sort of nailing the way that we as Americans live.

First, it sited that we're one of the most productive nations on earth.

We work more hours than most, take few vacations, and equate "face time" in the office with a strong sense of work ethic, dedication, commitment, and accomplishment.

Pragmatically though, when we finish our 40, 50, 60 hour work weeks or our 8, 10, 12 hour days, we're often too tired or just plain out of time to cook dinner.  So, we grab something on the way home that usually resembles Jimmy Johns or Taco Bell.

Once the weekend hits, we have to "do" all of the things that we didn't get done during the week like the laundry, mowing the lawn, buying groceries (throwing out all of the produce that went unused during the week), and cleaning the house.

By the end of the day or the weekend, we just want to veg out.  We don't have energy to engage in something.  We want to be entertained.  So, we watch garbage cable or movies and binge on crap food.  Because, damn it, we've worked hard and we deserve it.

This phenomena or way of life is all our own.  The Europeans don't subscribe to it.  They may get into the office at 9am, take a siesta from 1-3pm, enjoy a leisurely dinner with family/friends over a bottle of wine, and sleep.  And they take a long maternity leave and use their weeks of vacation.  Not to say that they don't suffer from challenges like demanding client deadlines and shit that needs to get done around the flat.  But, the culture as a whole doesn't promote the need to constantly be "doing" something.

So why do we struggle with enjoying our lives?  Why do we equate working an insane number of hours to strength?  When we look back, will we feel satisfied, content with our quality of life, and with the experiences we sacrificed to make sure that we were at our desks by 7am?

I'm not sure of the answer.  I just know that there's an integral difference between doing and being and that all too often, we're far more productive in shorter stretches of time when we have time to spend with the ones and things we love.

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