80 Hours A Week Doesn’t Equal Happiness

A few weeks back I stumbled upon an article from the Washington Post criticizing the workaholic culture we Americans have somehow created for ourselves.

As someone who has spent the better part of a decade chasing what I thought was the American dream, I can tell you I’m exhausted. Although 10 years doesn’t feel like a lot, that’s just short of 1/3 of my life–enough to slap me in the face for a much-needed wake-up call.

You see, we spend 40-plus hours a week (for many of us, a lot more than that) slumped in a chair, slaving over a glowing screen, tapping away at a lit-up board of keys, while occasionally moving our right hand to tell the cursor to go somewhere else. We plug numbers, run forecasting models, review creative, send more emails than we can count, tilt our head to the right (or left) so we can hold a phone up to our ear for conference call number five for the day; only to interrupt each other every two minutes because no meeting is ever productive.

And why do we do this? So we can afford the shiniest, newest thing, that lights up and tells us what time it is and orders us another 12-pack of toilet paper because we’re too time-strapped to actually walk to the store and pick it up ourselves. We do it because the commercial tells us we need the newest car and the biggest house and the softest pillow and the billowiest gown.

As Maya Mendoza put it:

No amount of security
is worth the suffering
of a mediocre life chained
to a routine that has
killed your dreams.

There, I said it.

We work 40-plus hours a week for the man so we can sell more things to more people who go more into debt because we keep telling them they need to buy more. Because an economy that isn’t driving commerce is a harmful one.

But, have we ever stopped to ask ourselves if we’re all actually happy with all the stuff we have?

And the hours we’ve worked?

With all the debt we’ve accumulated?

Or with the abnormally large house?

Do those things actually make you happy to have?

Rather than buying the things and stuff and items that advertising or society convinces you that you need, instead ask yourself if that thing, stuff, or item is actually going to add value to your life? Do you have to work 80 hours next week to justify buying that thing. And, do you have to go into debt in order to acquire said thing?

Because if the answer is: 1. No; 2. Yes; or 3. Yes, in any combination, it’s time to re-think your strategy. And, I’m not talking corporate strategy…I’m talking life strategy.

Bragging about being up until 2 a.m. working on a project, every single night, does no one any favors and creates unhealthy expectations for productivity. And, slaving week-after-week with a goal of making more and more money creates an endless chase for something that is not happiness.

I may have only spent just over a decade in the workforce observing the hours people put in, but it’s enough to tell me that it’s just plain crazy and nobody has time for that.

Put yourself first. Set boundaries. Say no. And, remind yourself that working 80 hours of week is not the answer to happiness.

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