Banishing Self-Indulgence

Earlier today I wrote one of those typical woe is me blog posts, alluding to how hard everything felt, how lacking I was in inspiration etc. But before I posted it I stopped, my finger hovering over the mouse key, and asked myself: What good will it do to share this with the world? It may well be cathartic to get things off your chest, but haven’t you done that just by writing it? Don’t you feel a little lighter as it is? And you know what? I did feel lighter just for having written it. Much like a letter to an ex that never actually gets sent, I had expunged the negative emotions without the need to inflict them upon the world. So that was one thing that happened today.

Another thing that happened was my reading of this article, which can, I believe, be best surmised by the following excerpt:

“The 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.

“We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.”

I don’t know about you, but reading those two paragraphs struck a chord so deep within me that the hairs on my arms stood up of their own volition. Why? Because that person with no time to be ambitious outside work, who feels constantly dissatisfied in a way they struggle to articulate and who spends money they don’t have on ways to make themselves feel better: That person is me. And most likely also many of you. Of course (trust fund children aside) we have to work for a living (and in this respect with a four day week I can complain less than many about my lot), but it’s so true that outside work it takes (what often feels like) a superhuman effort to cultivate the kind of extracurricular activities that leave you feeling wholly satisfied and fulfilled.

But, that aside, the fact is that those with true talent and passion DO manage to make the most of the time they have, no matter how little it is. They don’t sit around complaining about being oppressed and enslaved by the organisations they work for, but rather work out ways to escape their clutches and create opportunities for work – and living – on their terms. Whether incarcerated by consumerism or not, we all have choices. And our choices are the difference between a life of success and a life of failure. Which is a pretty sobering thought.

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4 thoughts on “Banishing Self-Indulgence

  1. Bege- being English we’ve been led to believe that the 8 hour day working in a suitable profession is the only way. If this makes you happy so be it….but why can’t some of us question this way of life? What is wrong with moving into a career that enables you to work 4 hour days or on flexible time? Why not move abroad and use skype or other communications to work intelligently whilst hitting the beach for an early evening surf? We change throughout our lives both physically and spiritually (not keen on that word but I’m no writer so forgive my lack of intelligent vocabulary). Why not change the way we do things? You’ve put it out there in your blog. I’ve made the change. Thanks for making us perhaps question the norm….to those scared of changing careers fine, but why not pick up a guitar and go take lessons or learn a new language, go to the gym, learn how to rap. Thanks for a great post Belle

  2. I realised just how questionable the 8 (or 9 or 10, depending what profession you are in) hour working day really is when I had children and was working flexi-time and part-time. Because I was eager to get home to my kids, I would be far more productive and achieve much more in my 24 hours a week than any of my colleagues in their 45+ hours. That would also be around the time I started to get impatient with useless meetings which dragged on forever, so that various people could show off how smart they were, even if they went completely off-topic and no decision was ever reached.

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