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The Case For Idleness

We’re members of the cult of efficiency and killing ourselves

We answer work emails on Sunday night. We read endless articles about how to hack our brains to achieve more productivity. We crop our photos and use filters before we post them on social media to earn approval. We read only the first couple paragraphs of the articles we find interesting because we don’t have time to read them in their entirety. We’re overworked, over-stressed, constantly dissatisfied and reaching for a bar that keeps rising higher and higher. We’re members of the cult of efficiency, and we’re killing ourselves with productivity.

For the past 500 years or so, we’ve searched for external solutions to our internal problem. We’ve been deluded by the forces of economics and religion to believe that the purpose of life is hard work. So every time we feel empty, dissatisfied, or unfulfilled, we work harder and put in more hours. This trend can be traced to Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, Christopher Columbus and the Age of Discovery. With Luther, laziness became a sin, and with Columbus and the Age of Discovery, the developed world’s eyes turned to new and unfamiliar places, to novelty as an end goal.

These obsessions became widespread during the industrial age and they’ve only strengthened in the more than two centuries since. Our time periods are not named for human development anymore, like the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. We’re currently in the jet age, the information age, the nuclear age and the Digital Revolution. We measure our years in work products, not personal development.

Please select this link to read the complete blog post from Maria Shriver.

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