Is there more to life than work?
Are our identities totally subsumed in our job titles and ranking within our companies’ social hierarchies?
Of course, through work we can find meaning and purpose. We feel useful knowing that we are effectively contributing to the smooth functioning of society.
However, we must ask, has our obsession with efficiency and productivity gone too far. In modern societies, we are seeing rising rates of anxiety and worker burnout. In a digital world, the boundary lines between work and home life begins to disappear.
Paradoxically, as ‘busyness’ has become some what of a status symbol, those in the higher economic and social classes are not those who live lives of leisure, but rather who are completely consumed by their jobs.
In this series I want to discuss the philosophical dimension of work and leisure. For my older readers, don’t fret, I am not promoting a lifestyle of laziness or complacency. Hard work is important and should be valued.
Nonetheless, my argument is that we need to reclaim a life outside of our professional occupations. A culture’s obsession with work poses the risk of losing the richness and beauty that the world can offer. Further, an individual who lacks an interior life of meaning and purpose, can slowly fall into the trap of hedonistic consumerism – caught in the treadmill of living exclusively for the purposes of working and consuming.
The psychologist Erich Fromm put it bluntly as he observed that modern individuals,
have little interest (or at least consciously) in philosophical or religious questions such as why one lives, and why is one going in one direction rather than another. They have big ever-changing egos, but none has a self, a core, a sense of identity.Erich Fromm, To Have or to Be
In this series I want to look at the aspects of human existence that we have lost, and explore how they can be reclaimed. Some of the topics I will be looking at include:
- Status anxiety and our identities beyond our job titles
- The value of doing things for intrinsic rather than instrumental value
- A review of Josef Pieper’s essay Leisure the Basis of Culture
- A look at value beyond the confines of the market
Hope you find this series of interest, and a gentle reminder to cultivate a greater work-life balance.
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