A friendly reminder for the upcoming long weekend: you might be happier whining about your job than hanging at that barbecue. Yes, really.
"I wonder what the copy machine is doing right now." (via Thinkstock)
Writer Derek Thompson just did a big piece for The Atlantic called "A World Without Work." It's an exploration of current trends in American work, and what could happen if technology continues to expand in a way that takes away jobs, but keeps giving us money. Could we all start living lives of fabulous leisure and happiness?
Nope! Research says that we'd probably just watch TV and feel a lot of anxiety and guilt about not working. Great job, America!
Thompson points to a few things to help prove his point, including a 1989 study of Chicago workers. The study certainly isn't new, but it's pertinent:
In 1989, the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Judith LeFevre conducted a famous study of Chicago workers that found people at work often wished they were somewhere else. But in questionnaires, these same workers reported feeling better and less anxious in the office or at the plant than they did elsewhere. The two psychologists called this “the paradox of work": many people are happier complaining about jobs than they are luxuriating in too much leisure.
He also mentions a theory "that Americans work so hard because their culture has conditioned them to feel guilty when they are not being productive," and that "the jobless don't spend their downtime socializing with friends or taking up new hobbies," the sort of leisure activities that tend to make people happy. Rather, says Thompson, "they watch TV or sleep."
If you're getting anxious about not working over this holiday weekend, here are some fun ways you can insert work complaints into leisure-time situations:
- "Another burger? Oooh, think I gotta pass. Just like I was passed over for a promotion."
- "This is a fun parade! Much more fun than the parade of paperwork that keeps crawling across my desk. Let me tell you, one by one, about all of the pieces of paper I filed last week."
- "Hey look, fireworks! Fire-works remind me of work, which sucks, and I would like to set on fire."