Would we be working 8 hour days? I don’t think so.
Our society is built around making and spending money. And though we need money to survive we also know that money only makes us happy to a certain point. A point where our needs are met and a little more. The problem is that we keep chasing our wants not our needs.
If we don’t take control of our wants it’s a matter of time before we end up wanting something we can’t have.
The alternative is not to have what we want but to want and appreciate what we have.
Harvard’s longest study on happiness recently showed that people who are surrounded by friends are the most happy and those that are lonely are the least happy. It also showed that people who can cope with stress better are happier.
Greek philosophers Plato as well as Aristotle who spent their life thinking of happiness both agree that virtue is what makes us happy. Virtues being wisdom, fairness, self-control, courage, (and later added by Schopenhauer) generosity and compassion.
Psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl teaches us in his book Man’s Search for Meaning that happiness is about having a higher purpose.
So if all these things are what make us happy, why is our life designed so much around money rather than the things that matter to our happiness? Why are we acting as chasers rather than celebrators? As workers rather than renegades?
Work is an important part of happiness but it has no correlation to the length of time we work and has more to do with work that matters. It’s about working smarter not harder.
I want to leave you with a personal story. My grandfather was recently placed in a home. His house is being sold as I write this. All his stuff has been passed down or thrown out. He can’t work anymore.
When I went to visit him I was struck with what was left. What’s left are the people that call him or come to visit and the pictures on the wall of the memories of his life.
As much as you may not think so, you really do have the freedom to design the life you want. So don’t be scared and go create memories and remember that the people around you are everything.
Also published on Medium.