Continuing with my series on deathbed regrets.
I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
Why are you working so hard, dear Reader?! Money? Fulfillment? Friends? Boredom? Various reasons, I am sure. Why we work depends on priorities.
Many believe that happiness can be bought and they’re right! Money can buy happiness but only to a certain extent. It depends what we spend our money on. It would be worth it to work less and make better use of our time/resources. We can devote more time to put towards hobbies or strengthening relationships.
These people who were nearing the end of their lives, wished they had not worked so hard and it is a goal of mine to not say I wish I had not worked so hard when I’m about to kick the bucket.
It is difficult to promote not working as much when I am a person of privilege. I am not a millionaire. Not even a hundred-thousandaire. But I am a white male from a wealthy country. I am from a state in that country with great cost of living, good wages, etc. I am up to my neck with privilege. I may have unjust guilt about my privilege but I’ll let you decide that.
In this post, I intend to promote a lifestyle of less work. To promote more time for hobbies, relationship, and anything that will bring a person more happiness than working. Not only for those who have the privilege to make this lifestyle change now, but also for those who may not have the privilege yet. I’ll explain what privileged people can do to help others have more privilege and how that will improve their lives as well; not only emotionally, but financially.
“But Drew, what if I enjoy working all day, every day?” I would say to this person that it is not really work, but a hobby. A hobby he or she makes money from. We can call it either, no need to get into semantics. What is important is balance between relationships and how you attain resources to live, and that those two things together ultimately lead to you being happy in life.
We work for resources we believe will keep us alive and happy. We give our time in exchange for money. That money has a value and dictates how many resources we can purchase with it. We trade time for paper that has numbers on it so we can again trade time to go somewhere to trade those papers for resources.
A common question when meeting someone is “What do you do for a living?” At times when I did not have a job, I felt like a failure to say I was between jobs. Because of the culture I grew up in, I felt I needed to respond with a societally-deemed-worthy response that may or may not be a euphemism because I felt I needed to sound important and interesting. Even working part-time came along with a sense that I was a lower class.
What we can learn from people older than us, people that have more wisdom, people who are close to dying, is that money can only make us but so happy. The rest of our Happiness Tank can be filled with hobbies and relationships. My way of living has evolved to attain this goal. I would rather put my energy towards having what I need, not having an excess, and having stronger relationships in life. To quote every Couchsurfer’s favorite movie, Into the Wild, “Happiness is only real, when shared.”
It is hard to cut back on work and/or save money when it is difficult to meet basic needs. This is why I am in favor of a Universal Basic Income or something similar to it. It would give people the ability to live a satisfactory life with the free time from work to explore other interests. When basic needs are met, it frees up the mind to think about other things to do rather than what to do to survive.
We have an abundance of technology in the world. Many things have been, are being, and will be automated by machines. Many can already be done but have not been because governments are afraid of job loss. I believe a solution for this is taking some of the excess money companies make from having machines instead of paying people and distributing it to those who replaced by the machines. As we have learned, money can only make a person but so happy. It will not hurt, and it will even be better, for CEOs and others at the top of companies to give up million dollar bonus checks to have a better society overall.
For those who do not need a UBI, it would benefit them for others to receive it. UBI would cut down on crime, poverty, education costs, healthcare costs, and more. When basic needs are met there will be fewer people with depression, feeling the need to rob, and able to start having hobbies as well instead of working non-stop to make ends meet. A society with a UBI would thrive from the bottom up and be a win for all of society.
Another way to have more and work less is to live as sustainable as possible. Many people live above their means. Buying things that do not bring them value as much as they wish. Houses are too big and too much to heat. Many people own too many clothes. Eat too much unhealthy food that will cost more in medical bills in the future. It would better to buy more expensive, but healthy food now, than to pay ten times as much later in medical bills.
One problem in society is our lack of delayed gratification. I suffer from this as well. Bread, beer, and pasta are not beneficial in the future but in the moment, I fall prey to the immediate gratification of things like these like the majority of us. We impluse buy things in checkout lines and on Amazon, but if we would say to ourselves that we will think about buying that $300 toaster before impulse buying it…maybe after a week we would conclude that we do not need it and that in would only be convenient. For most of civilization we have lived without owning much more than we could carry around from day-to-day. Now we have a place to keep things while we go out to buy more things.
We fear not having enough money. It makes us greedy in our daily lives. Magazines, TV shows, and other advertisements and inputs tell us to spend our money on things we do not need. We have misguided hopes that fancy clothes, cars, big houses, pools, and more will give us satisfaction from approval of our peers. If you have read my posts before or know me outside of the Interwebs, you know I harp on this often so I will spare you from a long rant about consumerism.
I believe capitalism has had many positive benefits in the world. I also believe it is only the lesser of the evils. But I really think a new system is necessary. Social systems never keep up with innovation and technology. I’m even fine with resorting back to capitalism if a new system is tried and does not work. But can we at least try? It can even keep the name, capitalism, it’s only a label. But if we could just try to implement a change to see if it works, that would be great.
The irony of this post is that the people who would benefit the most from knowing that working their lives away, are too busy working their lives away to read it. Or they are on the other end of the spectrum and do not have the resources to read it.
That is why it is up to you, dear Reader, you must venture out into the world, find these overworked mammals with smoke coming from their ears and tell them that there is indeed more to life than droning away for money. We can make machines do our work and watch the smoke roll out of their cute, little, titanium ears instead of working so hard ourselves.
There are many ways to make our lives better. For each of those ways, there are countless paths to achieve the end result we desire. I have not even touched on insurance and many other aspects because I have not researched them enough or I am overlooking them. My posts are never final products so as always, I welcome other points of view that may change my point of view.
The title of this post was inspired by John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.