Out of the Darkness

The science of post-traumatic growth.

Working Our Lives Away

Working 40 hours a week makes our lives become narrow and constricted, so that we lose sight of whole vistas of possibility—of activity and adventure—outside it. We live with the mistaken idea that work defines us, and should be the primary pursuit of our lives. Read More


It's rare that I come across someone who shares these views.

The idea that work = part of life is so embedded into American society that few stop to really question it. And those who do openly question it are often accused of being lazy or whining.

There's the idea that you can make it if you just work hard enough (which is far from true in reality). Everyone wants to make it, and we're so busy working away our time that we don't see what we really are, which is not so far away from being indentured servants.

Some say work is a choice, except not really. Unless you're born into wealth or inherit it there's really no choice.

I agree that we could shorten work days and work much more efficiently than we do now. I also think there needs to be a shift away from seeing work as the meaning of life. So many jobs are tedious, repetitive, and unrewarding yet people wondering what's wrong with themselves when they don't feel fulfilled. The job itself is actually the problem.
In fact, the entire work culture is the biggest problem.

What's the Solution?

I agree wholeheartedly! So now that the three of us know the truth, what's the solution? I wasn't born to wealth so I'm not going to inherit anything, but I still want to have a roof over my head, and food to eat.

Help! Need answers to this conundrum, quick...

It's sort of obvious

that more people would thrive if the work week were shortened. A dirty little secret called "labor unions" helped do this for a little while, by increasing wages for working people and helping them get more time off -- does anyone remember when the five-day work week was a radical concept? Thanks to labor unions, a weekend off is now expected.

You can write all the essays you want and fume about how unfair it all is, but the only way to put work in its place is to ORGANIZE. Corporations are not going to give us more time off out of the goodness of their hearts. And banks, landlords, utilities and grocery stores are not going to lower our bills so that we can live on less. It's not easy but it will be worth it for our children and their children etc.

Don't agonize, ORGANIZE!

I think shortening the

I think shortening the "official" sanctioned work week would be a great start. Say, making Monday an official part of the weekend. But there's other things that would need to take place for this to happen. DC and Wall Street would have to sign on to such a curtailing. Our entire economy and work culture is built around these two entities. And no, I don't want to work 4 ten-hour days. 32 hours is enough for a healthy work/life balance, IMHO.

I hate this word I'm about to type, but we need a shift in paradigm. Where as a species do we need to go? How much further "progress" is there left to achieve? Why is the next iPhone needed every damn year? How many more Starbucks do I need in my neighborhood? How many more bombs, missiles, and drones do we need to develop? Didn't the old ones kill enough alleged terrorists? How many more cubicles filled with office drones with college degrees do we need? Where are we going in this system?

I think that the current

I think that the current system will simply collapse in due course, and it will be dreadful when it does.

Civilisations around the world will implode when they run out of fresh water and oil.

When that happens, people will not be able to return to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle because there's nothing left to hunt or gather.

So the collapse will be enhanced by the fact that it will be impossible for most people to revert to a more primitive way of life.

Eventually, after more than 99% of people have died, the remaining pockets of humans may be able to find a balance with their local ecosystems. It's difficult to say what would happen after that. People may die out entirely, or isolated populations may evolve into new forms of primate. I don't think we will return to a state where humans are so abundant as they are now though - the natural resources needed to create civilisation as we know it will no longer exist in sufficient quantities.

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Steve Taylor Ph.D., is a senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Metropolitan University and a researcher in transpersonal psychology at Liverpool John Moores University.


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