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Posts Tagged ‘Olivia Goldhill

Are you able and ready to care less about total work life?

Note: Re-edit of “Life of total work? How to care less about this trend?August 20, 2017

“If I’m not just a worker, then who am I?”

Who am I when leisure, festivity, and play come to resemble work?

When co-circular habits of work out implicitly tend for being fit for sustained working habit?

When our days off is used in terms of getting things done?

When obsessions with work renders us miserable? Obsession of “being useful” through work done

Olivia Goldhill, June 11, 2016

We live in an age of “total work.”

It’s a term coined by the German philosopher Josef Pieper just after World War II—describing the process by which human beings are transformed into workers, and the entirety of life is then transformed into work.

Work becomes total when all of human life is centered around it;.

When everything else is not just subordinate to, but in the service of work.

Leisure, festivity, and play come to resemble work—and then straight-up become it.

Even our co-circular habits play into total work.

People work out, rest and relax, eat well, and remain in good health for the sake of being more productive.

(In my case, just to stay healthy and have enough hope for a better tomorrow, or a better luck in life)

We believe in working on ourselves as well as on our relationships.

We think of our days off in terms of getting things done.

And we take a good day to be a day in which we were productive. (Does that include being passionate about a hobby?)

But caring as much as we do about work is causing us needless suffering.

In my role as a practical philosopher, I speak daily with individuals from Silicon Valley to Scandinavia about their obsessions with work—obsessions that, by their own accounts, are making them miserable.

(Many young people are losing their head hair from the stress of finishing a project on schedule)

Nevertheless, they assume that work is worth caring a lot about because of the fulfillments and rewards it supplies, so much so that it should be the center of life.

I think this is an unsound foundation to base our lives upon. The solution to our overworked state isn’t to do less work; it’s to care less about it.

There are many ways to train yourself to care less about work.

You could become completely indifferent to life and not care about anything, or develop a distaste for working that reveals itself in extreme procrastination.

However, both approaches leave us stuck in a cycle of aversion and feeling deep dissatisfaction.

The better option is to care less about work because we care more about other things.

(How to figure out caring about something else that is Not considered Work is the bottleneck in our life).

Most of us have had meaningful experiences—finding love unexpectedly, feeling awe when asked an intriguing question—that we quickly dismiss as being no more than passing moments, or which turn into nostalgic episodes to be recalled wistfully now and again.

But these experiences are clues that reveal a different lens through which we can see life: The more important things take us out of the endless pursuit of “being useful” while enabling us to lose ourselves in the flow of time.

By caring less about work, we open ourselves up to caring more about other dimensions to life—about what matters more.

But that’s easier said—or written on a to-do list—than done.

How to care less about work

To get started, we need to become less attached to our notions of work.

The Buddha helpfully suggests that there are “3 poisons” at the root of our attachments: attraction, aversion, and indifference.

In this case, to become less attracted to, and therefore less hung up on, notions of career success, you should pay close attention to how those occupying positions of power are often over-extended, run ragged by infinite demands and herculean ambitions.

They are rarely leading well-rounded or well-ordered lives.

The cost of their single-minded striving for success is unvoiced suffering, loneliness, and the loss of other things worth caring about. If career success too often brings misery, then should it be esteemed as highly as it usually is?

Once you’ve detached the notion of success from that of happiness, you need to work out how else to find that satisfaction—but without actually achieving anything.

This exercise opens us up to Oscar Wilde’s famous dictum, “All art is quite useless.

We can refute total work’s claim that only useful things are valuable by taking Wilde at his word, and considering how we can perform fascinating but totally useless artistic experiments in our own lives.

For example, we could partake in the “art of roaming” without an aim or plan. This is an idea advanced by French theorist Guy Debord, who proposed that we let ourselves “be drawn by the attractions of the terrain” and the encounters we discover.

Alternatively, we could write a haiku, walk through the woods in the spirit of “forest bathing” (shinrin-yoku), or lie perfectly still in a moving rowboat, as 18th-century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau reports having done in Reveries of the Solitary Walker.

We could take part with others in breaking out of an escape room, immerse ourselves in sensory deprivation tanks, or practice calligraphy, an art that master calligrapher Kazuaki Tanahashi calls “brush mind.

By these means, we can plunge into life, engaging our senses while suspending our buzzing, noisy workaday concerns.

Once we’ve gotten the knack for embracing the idea that certain things in life are wondrous because they’re not focused on getting through, onto, or ahead of something, we can turn our attention to ourselves, inquiring into our own lives.

Socrates’ great insight involved showing his conversation partners that they thought they knew themselves, but it turns out that they didn’t.

Following Socrates’ lead, we can ask ourselves, “If I’m not just a worker, then who am I?”

Let this question sit in the back of your mind for a few weeks before you try to answer it.

Who am I?” you might ask while getting bogged down at work.

“Who am I?” you might think while you notice your thoughts inclining once again toward completing tasks, planning, strategy setting, and making insurmountable to-do lists.

“Is this who I am? Is this all I am?”

This philosophical question, posed over and over again, is intended to arouse great doubt in you, inviting you to prod your deepest ambitions, why you’re here, and what it’s all about.

If your destiny is Not to be a total worker, then what could it be?

Exasperated, a character in Voltaire’s Candide says, “Let’s stop all this philosophizing and get down to work.” What a waste of time, he seems to be saying—and maybe you’re thinking the same thing.

We could, of course, follow his advice and just keep our heads down. Or we could insist upon working less without caring less about work.

Or we could try to find a time-management guru who would allow us to continue a regime of total work by playing time-saving techniques.

But aren’t these approaches just more of the same: total work in action?

If the solution to your anxiety is keeping your head down, easing up a bit, or working more efficiently, you’ll someday regret the awakened life that will have ultimately, tragically passed you by.

Exercises like these shepherd us beyond the world of total work, helping us to remember why we’re here. They allow us to shed our worries, anxieties, irritations, and busy-ness

By caring about work a little less, we can afford ourselves experiences of what is truly meaningful, and let us rest for a while in the unfolding present.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter. Learn how to write for Quartz Ideas. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.

Note: How to behave once you retire?

If you couldn’t discover a hobby, I say: Être a la retraite veut dire: j’ ai le matin jusqu’à 1 pm pour méditer, lire et écrire, et toute la nuit pour tout autre chose. Sleep my fill and sleep when I feel like to or when just bored. C’ est comme ca qu’on change une vie de labeur pour survivre.

 

Psychologists recommend children be bored in the summer

 Olivia Goldhill, June 11, 2016

Do you entertain your kids with chess camp, art school, cooking classes, or tennis lessons during the unstructured summer months? Or perhaps all of them?

There are activities and summer camps galore to fill children’s time and supply much needed childcare when kids are out of school. But psychologists and child development experts suggest that over-scheduling children during the summer is unnecessary and could ultimately keep kids from from discovering what truly interests them.

“Your role as a parent is to prepare children to take their place in society. Being an adult means occupying yourself and filling up your leisure time in a way that will make you happy,” says Lyn Fry, a child psychologist in London with a focus on education. “If parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child’s never going to learn to do this for themselves.”

Fry is not the only one to point out the benefits of boredom. Dr. Teresa Belton, visiting fellow at the University of East Anglia with a focus on the connection between boredom and imagination, told the BBC that boredom is crucial for developing “internal stimulus,” which then allows true creativity.

And though our capacity for boredom may well have diminished with all the attractions of the internet, experts have been discussing the importance of doing nothing for decades.

In 1993, psychoanalyst Adam Phillips wrote that the “capacity to be bored can be a developmental achievement for the child.” Boredom is a chance to contemplate life, rather than rushing through it, he said in his book On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored: Psychoanalytic Essays on the Unexamined Life. “It is one of the most oppressive demands of adults that the child should be interested, rather than take time to find what interests him. Boredom is integral to the process of taking one’s time,” added Phillips.

Fry suggests that at the the start of the summer, parents sit down with their kids—at least those above the age of four—and collectively write down a list of everything their children might enjoy doing during their break. These can be basic activities, such as playing cards, reading a book, or going for a bicycle ride. They could also be more elaborate ideas such as cooking a fancy dinner, putting on a play, or practicing photography.

Then, if your child comes to you throughout the summer complaining of boredom, tell them to go and look at the list.

“It puts the onus on them to say, ‘This is what I’d like to do’,” says Fry.

While there’s a good chance children might mope around for a while and be bored, it’s important to realize that this isn’t wasted time.

“There’s no problem with being bored,” says Fry. “It’s not a sin, is it? I think children need to learn how to be bored in order to motivate themselves to get things done. Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant.”

This same theory was put forward in 1930 by philosopher Bertrand Russell, who devoted a chapter of his book The Conquest of Happinessto the potential value of boredom. Imagination and capacity to cope with boredom must be learnt as a child, he wrote:

“A child develops best when, like a young plant, he is left undisturbed in the same soil. Too much travel, too much variety of impressions, are not good for the young, and cause them as they grow up to become incapable of enduring fruitful monotony.”

A philosopher who studies life changes says our biggest decisions can never be rational

At some point, everyone reaches a crossroads in life: Do you decide to take that job and move to a new country, or stay put? Should you become a parent, or continue your life unencumbered by the needs of children?

Instinctively, we try to make these decisions by projecting ourselves into the future, trying to imagine which choice will make us happier.

Perhaps we seek counsel or weigh up evidence. We might write out a pro/con list. What we are doing, ultimately, is trying to figure out whether or not we will be better off working for a new boss and living in Morocco, say, or raising three beautiful children.

This is fundamentally impossible, though, says philosopher L.A. Paul at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a pioneer in the philosophical study of transformative experiences. 

Certain life choices are so significant that they change who we are. Before undertaking those choices, we are unable to evaluate them from the perspective and values of our future, changed selves. In other words, your present self cannot know whether your future self will enjoy being a parent or not.

“You’re supposed to know these special things about yourself—like if you’re a smart, thoughtful person, and you reflect carefully, you can know. I think it’s not a failure if you don’t know,” she says. “We can be alien to our own selves at different times.”

Paul began considering the lack of a rational decision-making framework for transformative experiences after having her own children.

She found, as most parents do, that her core preferences changed; she was now willing to sacrifice herself for this other being, her child. Hearing about this instinct beforehand simply didn’t provide the same knowledge as experiencing it.

“One of the deepest and most important features of being a parent was epistemically inaccessible to me,” she says. “There’s a way in which I am a different person. I’m metaphysically the same person but I’m a different self.”

To count as a transformative experience, something must be both epistemically and personally transformative. Examples include taking certain drugs, going to the moon, going to war, killing someone, being spiritually reborn, or suffering a major physical accident. (Not all of these examples are choices, of course, but they are certainly transformative.)

When faced with a potentially transformative choice, Paul explains the problem at hand:

“It’s going to change who you are, it’s not clear that there’s a straightforward question about which life is better. In each life, you’ll develop values about that way of living. You can’t make this decision by projecting yourself into your future self by knowing what it’s going to be like and deciding if that’s the way you want to be. It’s just not rational.”

Paul is an analytic, rather than continental, philosopher—an important distinction in the field. Continental philosophy encompasses 2,000 years of thought from some of the most well-known philosophers, such as Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, and Sartre. Analytic philosophy began in the early 20th century, with a focus on logic and language.

It doesn’t attempt to address questions deemed unanswerable (such as whether there’s a god), and it has a tendency to get obscure, fast (unpacking the nature of the word “and,” for example, is a pretty hot topic).

Analytic philosophy is the dominant school in both the US and the UK, which has likely contributed to philosophy fading from the public sphere over the past century. Paul’s work has been so groundbreaking in part because it combines the rigor of analytic philosophy with the significance of truly profound topics.

“Big questions often get soft and squishy very quickly and I find that unproductive,” she says.

In her telling of the problem of transformative experiences, there’s a factor that cannot be represented in the decision-making model. “It’s unknown, like the unknown unknown you see in economics,” she says.

Philosophers were not so accepting of Paul’s work when she first started considering transformative experiences. The subject was a “huge career risk,” she says, and plenty of people told her to abandon the topic.

“Talking about it was just not something serious philosophers do. ‘We don’t talk about babies,’” she says. “But I was a philosophically trained adult who went through that experience and I knew that it had a certain structure that needed to be explored.”

Having established the epistemological significance of transformative life choices, there still remains the question of how, exactly, we should make such decisions.

Paul is still figuring this out. So far, her best proposal is that, while you can’t know which choice you’ll prefer, you can at least decide whether you want to experience a transformation.

Life of total work? How to care less about this trend?

“If I’m not just a worker, then who am I?”

Olivia Goldhill, June 11, 2016

We live in an age of “total work.” It’s a term coined by the German philosopher Josef Pieper just after World War II—describing the process by which human beings are transformed into workers, and the entirety of life is then transformed into work.

Work becomes total when all of human life is centered around it; when everything else is not just subordinate to, but in the service of work. Leisure, festivity, and play come to resemble work—and then straight-up become it.

Even our co-circular habits play into total work.

People work out, rest and relax, eat well, and remain in good health for the sake of being more productive. (In my case, just to stay healthy and have enough hope for a better tomorrow, or a better luck in life)

We believe in working on ourselves as well as on our relationships. We think of our days off in terms of getting things done. And we take a good day to be a day in which we were productive. (Does that include being passionate about a hobby?)

But caring as much as we do about work is causing us needless suffering.

In my role as a practical philosopher, I speak daily with individuals from Silicon Valley to Scandinavia about their obsessions with work—obsessions that, by their own accounts, are making them miserable. (Many young people are losing their head hair out from the stress of finishing a project on schedule)

Nevertheless, they assume that work is worth caring a lot about because of the fulfillments and rewards it supplies, so much so that it should be the center of life.

I think this is an unsound foundation to base our lives upon. The solution to our over-worked state isn’t to do less work; it’s to care less about it.

There are many ways to train yourself to care less about work.

Sure, you could become completely indifferent to life and not care about anything, or develop a distaste for working that reveals itself in extreme procrastination.

However, both approaches leave us stuck in a cycle of aversion and feeling deep dissatisfaction. The better option is to care less about work because we care more about other things.

Most of us have had meaningful experiences—finding love unexpectedly, feeling awe when asked an intriguing question—that we quickly dismiss as being no more than passing moments, or which turn into nostalgic episodes to be recalled wistfully now and again.

But these experiences are clues that reveal a different lens through which we can see life: The more important things take us out of the endless pursuit of “being useful” while enabling us to lose ourselves in the flow of time.

By caring less about work, we open ourselves up to caring more about other dimensions to life—about what matters more. But that’s easier said—or written on a to-do list—than done.

How to care less about work

To get started, we need to become less attached to our notions of work.

The Buddha helpfully suggests that there are “3 poisons” at the root of our attachments: attraction, aversion, and indifference.

In this case, to become less attracted to, and therefore less hung up on, notions of career success, you should pay close attention to how those occupying positions of power are often over-extended, run ragged by infinite demands and herculean ambitions.

They are rarely leading well-rounded or well-ordered lives. The cost of their single-minded striving for success is unvoiced suffering, loneliness, and the loss of other things worth caring about. If career success too often brings misery, then should it be esteemed as highly as it usually is?

Once you’ve detached the notion of success from that of happiness, you need to work out how else to find that satisfaction—but without actually achieving anything.

This exercise opens us up to Oscar Wilde’s famous dictum, “All art is quite useless.” We can refute total work’s claim that only useful things are valuable by taking Wilde at his word, and considering how we can perform fascinating but totally useless artistic experiments in our own lives.

For example, we could partake in the “art of roaming” without an aim or plan. This is an idea advanced by French theorist Guy Debord, who proposed that we let ourselves “be drawn by the attractions of the terrain” and the encounters we discover.

Alternatively, we could write a haiku, walk through the woods in the spirit of “forest bathing” (shinrin-yoku), or lie perfectly still in a moving rowboat, as 18th-century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau reports having done in Reveries of the Solitary Walker.

We could take part with others in breaking out of an escape room, immerse ourselves in sensory deprivation tanks, or practice calligraphy, an art that master calligrapher Kazuaki Tanahashi calls “brush mind.

By these means, we can plunge into life, engaging our senses while suspending our buzzing, noisy workaday concerns.

Once we’ve gotten the knack for embracing the idea that certain things in life are wondrous because they’re not focused on getting through, onto, or ahead of something, we can turn our attention to ourselves, inquiring into our own lives.

Socrates’ great insight involved showing his conversation partners that they thought they knew themselves, but it turns out that they didn’t.

Following Socrates’ lead, we can ask ourselves, “If I’m not just a worker, then who am I?”

Let this question sit in the back of your mind for a few weeks before you try to answer it.

“Who am I?” you might ask while getting bogged down at work. “Who am I?” you might think while you notice your thoughts inclining once again toward completing tasks, planning, strategy setting, and making insurmountable to-do lists.

“Is this who I am? Is this all I am?” This philosophical question, posed over and over again, is intended to arouse great doubt in you, inviting you to prod your deepest ambitions, why you’re here, and what it’s all about.

If your destiny is not to be a total worker, then what could it be?

Exasperated, a character in Voltaire’s Candide says, “Let’s stop all this philosophizing and get down to work.” What a waste of time, he seems to be saying—and maybe you’re thinking the same thing.

We could, of course, follow his advice and just keep our heads down. Or we could insist upon working less without caring less about work.

Or we could try to find a time-management guru who would allow us to continue a regime of total work by plying time-saving techniques. But aren’t these approaches just more of the same: total work in action?

If the solution to your anxiety is keeping your head down, easing up a bit, or working more efficiently, you’ll someday regret the awakened life that will have ultimately, tragically passed you by.

Exercises like these shepherd us beyond the world of total work, helping us to remember why we’re here. They allow us to shed our worries, anxieties, irritations, and busynesses.

By caring about work a little less, we can afford ourselves experiences of what is truly meaningful, and let us rest for a while in the unfolding present.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter. Learn how to write for Quartz Ideas. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.

Note: How to behave once you retire? I say: Etre a la retraite veut dire: j’ ai le matin jusqu’a 1 pm pour mediter, lire et ecrire, et toute la nuit pour tout autre chose. Sleep my fill and sleep when I feel like to or when just bored. C’ est comme ca qu’on change une vie de labeur pour survivre.

The inventors of democracy would define the US as an oligarchy run by a White elite tyrant?

Olivia Goldhill. July 22, 2017

The United States is not a humble country. Despite widespread voter suppression tactics and a criminal justice system that imprisons a higher percentage of black people than South Africa did during apartheid, Americans have a disconcerting tendency to insist that they live in the greatest democracy in the world.

Not only is this claim to be the world’s best highly disputable, but the United States wouldn’t classify as a democracy at all—from the perspective of the ancient Greeks who invented the term.

Josiah Ober, professor of political science and classics at Stanford University and the author of several books on early democracy, argues that the ancient Greek conception of democracy is widely misunderstood today.

“We tend to mistranslate it as majority rule. For the ancient Greeks, the word didn’t mean majority rule, or majority tyranny. Instead it really means people have the capacity to rule themselves,” he says. “That’s the core idea of democracy, the capacity for self-governance, not power of one part of the population over another part of the population.” (That’s what many localities  and towns in Syria have been practicing during this international and savage civil war)

Ancient Greeks believed in widespread self-governance, and would likely be disturbed by the ignorance, apathy, and lack of political service today.

Ober believes that they would describe the US as a “pseudo-democracy or straight-up oligarchy.”

It is not enough that to have elections to select the officials that then govern the United States; ancient Greeks would still view these disparate levels of power—with one small group of people ruling over the masses—as a form of oligarchy.

And Ober says they would be particularly unimpressed with the current president of the United States.

Ancient Greeks had a definite idea of the characteristics of a tyrant: “A Greek tyrant was a megalomaniac, extremely greedy for material possessions, a sexual aggressor, he sought to block out all of his enemies from any role in politics,” says Ober.

“I think they would look at our current president and say, ‘How doesn’t this fit the view we have of what a tyrant is?’”

The notion that a democracy could remain a democracy while headed by a tyrant simply doesn’t hold up, according to Ober. “If you have a tyrant, and you accept it and say, ‘Oh, that’s too bad, we have a tyrant,’ then you don’t have a democracy.”

There are further problems that prevent the US political system from meeting ancient Greek democratic ideals. Rather than the relentless contemporary focus on elections, under a true self-governing democracy, ordinary citizens would take turns holding the majority of public offices.

Moreover, Ober says any strong democratic nation must first establish shared interests, such as a mutual desire for a basic level of national security or welfare.

And strong civic education—exploring the values of the nation, and the responsibilities that go with being a citizen—is necessary to a functioning democracy. “I think these skills can be learned. It’s not like magic,” says Ober.

“I think the Ancient Greeks would say the US is a failed democracy,” he says. “They’d say the inability of the wealthy and relatively non-wealthy to come to some kind of a common judgment about things like healthcare and public education and so on is an example of a failure.”

Note: America First? In what? Declaring independence in order to maintain slave system that Britain abolished? Exterminating all indigenous tribes and expanding territories for the benefit of its only White people? Detonating the atomic bomb on people, and twice? Letting the Blacks always feel that their body can be demolished in a split second under fabricated excuses?

Psychologists recommend children be bored in the summer

Olivia Goldhill. June 11, 2016

Do you entertain your kids with chess camp, art school, cooking classes, or tennis lessons during the unstructured summer months? Or perhaps all of them?

There are activities and summer camps galore to fill children’s time and supply much needed childcare when kids are out of school. But psychologists and child development experts suggest that over-scheduling children during the summer is unnecessary and could ultimately keep kids from from discovering what truly interests them.

“Your role as a parent is to prepare children to take their place in society. Being an adult means occupying yourself and filling up your leisure time in a way that will make you happy,” says Lyn Fry, a child psychologist in London with a focus on education. “If parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child’s never going to learn to do this for themselves.”

Fry is not the only one to point out the benefits of boredom. Dr. Teresa Belton, visiting fellow at the University of East Anglia with a focus on the connection between boredom and imagination, told the BBC that boredom is crucial for developing “internal stimulus,” which then allows true creativity.

And though our capacity for boredom may well have diminished with all the attractions of the internet, experts have been discussing the importance of doing nothing for decades.

In 1993, psychoanalyst Adam Phillips wrote that the “capacity to be bored can be a developmental achievement for the child.” Boredom is a chance to contemplate life, rather than rushing through it, he said in his book On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored: Psychoanalytic Essays on the Unexamined Life. “It is one of the most oppressive demands of adults that the child should be interested, rather than take time to find what interests him. Boredom is integral to the process of taking one’s time,” added Phillips.

Fry suggests that at the the start of the summer, parents sit down with their kids—at least those above the age of four—and collectively write down a list of everything their children might enjoy doing during their break. These can be basic activities, such as playing cards, reading a book, or going for a bicycle ride. They could also be more elaborate ideas such as cooking a fancy dinner, putting on a play, or practicing photography.

Then, if your child comes to you throughout the summer complaining of boredom, tell them to go and look at the list.

“It puts the onus on them to say, ‘This is what I’d like to do’,” says Fry.

While there’s a good chance children might mope around for a while and be bored, it’s important to realize that this isn’t wasted time.

“There’s no problem with being bored,” says Fry. “It’s not a sin, is it? I think children need to learn how to be bored in order to motivate themselves to get things done. Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant.”

This same theory was put forward in 1930 by philosopher Bertrand Russell, who devoted a chapter of his book The Conquest of Happinessto the potential value of boredom. Imagination and capacity to cope with boredom must be learnt as a child, he wrote:

“A child develops best when, like a young plant, he is left undisturbed in the same soil. Too much travel, too much variety of impressions, are not good for the young, and cause them as they grow up to become incapable of enduring fruitful monotony.”

The psychological importance of wasting time

Olivia Goldhill. April 30, 2017

There will always be an endless list of chores to complete and work to do, and a culture of relentless productivity tells us to get to it right away and feel terribly guilty about any time wasted.

But a life spent dutifully responding to emails is a dull one indeed. And “wasted” time is, in fact, highly fulfilling and necessary.

Don’t believe me? Take it from the creator of “Inbox Zero.” As Oliver Burkeman reports in The Guardian, Merlin Mann was commissioned to write a book about his streamlined email system. Two years later, he abandoned the project and instead posted a (since deleted) blog post on how he’d spent so long focusing on how to spend time well, he’d ended up missing valuable moments with his daughter.

The problem comes when we spend so long frantically chasing productivity, we refuse to take real breaks.

We put off sleeping in, or going for a long walk, or reading by the window—and, even if we do manage time away from the grind, it comes with a looming awareness of the things we should be doing, and so the experience is weighed down by guilt.

Instead, there’s a tendency to turn to the least fulfilling tendency of them all: Sitting at our desk, in front of our computer, browsing websites and contributing to neither our happiness nor our productivity.

“There’s an idea we must always be available, work all the time,” says Michael Guttridge, a psychologist who focuses on workplace behavior. “It’s hard to break out of that and go to the park.” But the downsides are obvious: We end up zoning out while at the computer—looking for distraction on social media, telling ourselves we’re “multitasking” while really spending far longer than necessary on the most basic tasks.

Plus, says Guttridge, we’re missing out on the mental and physical benefits of time spent focused on ourselves. “People eat at the desk and get food on the computer—it’s disgusting. They should go for a walk, to the coffee shop, just get away,” he says. “Even Victorian factories had some kind of rest breaks.”

It’s not as though we need to work so hard.

As Alex Soojung-Kim Pan, author of REST: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, writes in Nautilus, luminaries including Charles Dickens, Gabriel García Márquez, and Charles Darwin had quite relaxed schedules, working for five hours a day or less. The truth is, work expands to fill the time it’s given and, for most of us, we could spend considerably fewer hours at the office and still get the same amount done.

Sometimes even the activities that are meant to be a treat—watching a movie, or going for a run—can be weighed down by a sense of responsibility.

Guttridge says he’s heard of CEOs who watch movies on fast forward, so that they can get the gist quickly. And perhaps they do, but they certainly won’t experience any of the pleasure that comes from immersing yourself in a cinematic world. (I enjoy reading slowly books, but tend to go fast forward on romantic novels, kind of read the cover, last chapter, and the first to find out if the style is worth reading it all)

“Wasting time is about recharging your battery and de-cluttering,” he says. Taking time to be totally, gloriously, proudly unproductive will ultimately make you better at your job, says Guttridge. But it’s also fulfilling in and of itself.

Even the much-maligned TV binge-watch can be a transporting experience—if you relax and enjoy it.

One study found that watching TV is considerably less enjoyable for those who then berate themselves as “couch potatoes.”

At the end of the day, all of us have the urge to while away time flicking through a magazine, walking around the block, or simply doing nothing. We should embrace these moments, and see them as what they are: time well spent.

Psychologists recommend children be bored in the summer

Do you entertain your kids with chess camp, art school, cooking classes, or tennis lessons during the unstructured summer months? Or perhaps all of them?

There are activities and summer camps galore to fill children’s time and supply much needed childcare when kids are out of school. But psychologists and child development experts suggest that over-scheduling children during the summer is unnecessary and could ultimately keep kids from discovering what truly interests them. (This is a great idea for adults too)

“Your role as a parent is to prepare children to take their place in society. Being an adult means occupying yourself and filling up your leisure time in a way that will make you happy,” says Lyn Fry, a child psychologist in London with a focus on education.

“If parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child’s never going to learn to do this for themselves.”

Fry is not the only one to point out the benefits of boredom. Dr. Teresa Belton, visiting fellow at the University of East Anglia with a focus on the connection between boredom and imagination, told the BBC that boredom is crucial for developing “internal stimulus,” which then allows true creativity.

And though our capacity for boredom may well have diminished with all the attractions of the internet, experts have been discussing the importance of doing nothing for decades.

Esther Perel shared this link. August 5 at 8:09pm ·

“A child develops best when, like a young plant, he is left undisturbed in the same soil. Too much travel, too much variety of impressions, are not good for the young, and cause them as they grow up to become incapable of enduring fruitful monotony.”

qz.com|By Olivia Goldhill

In 1993, psychoanalyst Adam Phillips wrote that the “capacity to be bored can be a developmental achievement for the child.” Boredom is a chance to contemplate life, rather than rushing through it, he said in his book On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored: Psychoanalytic Essays on the Unexamined Life.

“It is one of the most oppressive demands of adults that the child should be interested, rather than take time to find what interests him. Boredom is integral to the process of taking one’s time,” added Phillips.

Fry suggests that at the start of the summer, parents sit down with their kids—at least those above the age of four—and collectively write down a list of everything their children might enjoy doing during their break.

These can be basic activities, such as playing cards, reading a book, or going for a bicycle ride. They could also be more elaborate ideas such as cooking a fancy dinner, putting on a play, or practicing photography.

Then, if your child comes to you throughout the summer complaining of boredom, tell them to go and look at the list.

“It puts the onus on them to say, ‘This is what I’d like to do’,” says Fry.

While there’s a good chance children might mope around for a while and be bored, it’s important to realize that this isn’t wasted time.

 “There’s no problem with being bored,” says Fry. “It’s not a sin, is it? I think children need to learn how to be bored in order to motivate themselves to get things done. Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant.”

This same theory was put forward in 1930 by philosopher Bertrand Russell, who devoted a chapter of his book The Conquest of Happiness to the potential value of boredom.

Imagination and capacity to cope with boredom must be learnt as a child, he wrote:

“A child develops best when, like a young plant, he is left undisturbed in the same soil. Too much travel, too much variety of impressions, are not good for the young, and cause them as they grow up to become incapable of enduring fruitful monotony.”


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2020
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