We live in an age of “total work.” Work becomes total when all of human life is centered around it. 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. 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.
But caring as much as we do about work is causing us needless suffering. And 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. The better option is to care less about work because we care more about other things. 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.
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.
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. “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?
Summing-up: 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.