What To Do About It
Schulte has some suggestions for things workplaces could be doing to help the situation. Turns out people actually work better when they have time to breathe; leisure=better results (Plato could have told you that!).
But Millennials will need to make some choices too. Cunningham’s 15 minutes are a good start. Here are some additional questions to ask yourself:
What matters more to you — work or other things? If the answer is work, The Other Things will always suffer. Sooner or later “the other things” will include you.
What are the other things? What really makes your life worth living? Whatever the options, two of them ought to be “relationships” (or “community,” if you like) and “leisure.” By leisure, I don’t mean video game time; I mean activities (or lack thereof) where you have time to wonder and imagine — as Schulte notes, this is a huge part of what ends up making your non-leisure activities worthwhile. Examples: yesterday evening, I dedicated a little bit of time and read a Dorothy Sayers novel with a glass of wine. This morning during a slightly extended lunch break, I took a walk. On Sunday, my wife and I had a couple people over and we all talked for several hours. (If you think the presence of kids makes these activities impossible, you need to read Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman and Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen.)
Invest organically in those things. Our instinct is to schedule our free time — softball league, workout, after-work schooling, get-togethers. But scheduled things are rarely leisure things, and they rarely represent investment in real relationships (admit it: the people you’re closest to are hardly ever the people you have to schedule things with). That’s not to say you should never schedule anything, but people who have made life choices to prioritize The Other Things seem to get them more easily than those who don’t, especially if they convince friends to do it with them.
I’m quite aware that this is a lot harder than it sounds. Liz Horst was right that modern life is structured to make it almost impossible, as if The System wants to make sure we don’t live in a way that’s actually meaningful.
But I’ve done this, and I know others who have too. But we are building our lives around things we shouldn’t be. It’s time we did something about it.
Brian Brownis the editor-in-chief ofHumane Pursuits, where this article originally appeared.