I also think overwork is a byproduct of a globally connected society. Humans are happy if they are relatively well off compared to what they know. With smaller societies, we know less and thus expect less from ourselves and our situations. But it becomes more difficult to remain this way as small societies get replaced with large social networks.
As a small example, you can be having a great life one day and feel woefully underpaid the next, and the only thing that has changed is your knowledge that in the valley, people get paid twice the amount you do in the UK.
I believe we need a generational understanding, acceptance, and appropriation of some of the unintended side effects of modern society.
This is super true. I've been congratulating myself all month on my new job, paying me BIG BUCKS, compared to my friends. Well, just found out an old friend of mine also found a new job, getting payed literally twice as much as me. Now I'm in a funk and it's irrational and stupid but I can't help but look at the same number in a totally different way.
Making more money than me is great. Really. If making more money than me is important to you I KNOW I'm having more fun than you are. Somehow, somewhere in the last 5 years or so I've become content. I scratch-build model cars now in my spare time, and that's where I compete - with myself. Crazy fulfilling.
It's easy to be among the top in something in the little group that a kid in high school is exposed to. Even in a big district, there are enough things to be good at that you can be the best at something esoteric. Then you go to a good college for that thing, and come in thinking you're all that, and suddenly realize that you're average. But college exposes you to the fact that there are innumerable niches in that thing, and you can pick one and be among the best at that niche from your graduating class. You then go off to work, thinking you're hot stuff with your new top-of-the-line special credentials, and think you know more than everyone else in your field. Surprise: You don't. You meet someone who's been in the field for 30 years and can solve the special problems that you're uniquely good at in their sleep. And that guy has someone he calls when he can't figure something out.
It's sort of like looking for records in a baseball game: There are so many possible records to set and precedents to break, that there's something new for the announcers to go on about in most every game. There's a lot of room to be unique, special, and valuable.
You will almost certainly never be as good a composer as Mozart, as good a pianist as Horowitz, as good at dancing as any company you can see on TV or as good at singing as even a mediocre performer in a talent show. But you can learn from the best and always get better through hard work.
Being exposed to the idea that 'no, you're not the best and probably never will be, but the real reward is seeing yourself improve step by step through hard work' is invaluable.
I think Ip Man said that. Not sure.
Of course, owners are entitled to do whatever they please with their cars - but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing to see a GT3 RS, or any other track car, spend it’s life in start stop traffic in London.
On the other hand, when I was younger, seeing someone drastically less competent making more money didn't bother me. I thought it would catch up to them, and besides, I want in it just for the money.
Now, I know incompetence won't necessarily have consequences and that those other things don't mean anything, didn't happen, or whatever, and all I got out of the work was money.
Watching those people gets galling.
These days, I enjoy fiddling with knobs on a synthesizer for an hour or watching an old movie with a friend more than I ever did material things. Money can't buy being deep in a conversation where "So it's like Japanese vaporwave?" is a reasonable thing to say.
Oh I don't know. If I'm 50 and am making enough to retire at 65, and my friend retires at 52, I think it will still get to me.
So, among the things 75% of the people alive today might actually do, browsing Facebook might actually be the worst. Depending on your value system.
Facebook is waaaay down the list.
The number of possible Alcoholics don't add up to 75% of the global population. Sexual harassment while bad is not really a temptation for most people. Stealing, is again not things most people even consider.
EX: I may not be average, but I am not in a relationship so I can't exactly cheat. I don't like Alcohol so I am not going to become an Alcoholic. I could go on, but things are really not in my realm of possibility right now.
And how did you arrive at this number?
> The number of possible Alcoholics don't add up to 75% of the global population.
True, but the impact is still significant: alcoholism is among the top causes of death, at least in the US.
~25% to 60% of married people in the US cheet, but only 80% get married. Global data similar, but a significant number never get married which keeps things under 50%.
People who start posting excessive "Look at my life" posts tend to get unfollowed pretty quickly.
I find that this is something that sometimes sort of just happens to me, when I get aware of something I'm doing better now than, say, a year before.
But, I never really consciously decide to do that, because then I find it just doesn't work. Like the cliché of standing in front of a mirror and saying to yourself "today is gonna be a good day" (Has that ever worked for anybody? Where is this meme coming from?)
It's about making sure you take a moment to appreciate the good things you experience. It's about making an effort to not assume malice when there's a plausible positive or neutral explanation for someones behaviour. It's about the fact that if you smile at people and say good morning, they'll return the favour more often than if you frown and don't. It's about making peace with the things you can't change. It's about not dismissing this stuff as happy-clappy bullshit, but about giving you energy to address the things that actually matter, rather than just going around being angry at the world.
Weather is a good example: If you find yourself constantly annoyed at the weather and it's possible for you to do so, why not go to somewhere with a climate that might better suit you?
I guess my point is, I agree, it's not worth it getting constantly worked up over stuff, but also one shouldn't ignore one's feelings towards certain things for a prolonged time.
The former can have quite an effect on the latter though. To take it to one extreme, if you're never happy you're not going to be satisfied with life. But more realistically if these habits often help you feel happy when otherwise you would've been less happy, then that's going to have a positive impact on how satisfied you are with life.
So I'd say rather than simply saying nice things, one should be conscious of when one is thinking negative thoughts and then try to see where they come from and then what can be done about it. Being honest with yourself is a big part of that and I think that's what many people have a hard time with. And of course: If you're happy, also try to notice and cherish that. (If you look in the discussion I've had with another poster in this comment-thread, we've talked a bit about this too)
The converse of this is why stagnation feels bad long term (you don't tend to notice short term, that is just a break taking things easy for a while). Knowing you have not learned/done anything new in a long time can be depressing, and fuels many a mid-life crisis.
Check out: https://youtu.be/meiU6TxysCg
It takes a lot of effort to learn not to resent accomplishments of people you’re “competing” with even if they’re friends and you’re not directly competing with them. It’s a learned behavior to feel good for them instead.
There’s probably a selected reason for this, but it’s possible to overcome it (or at least be aware of its affect).
It’s better to frame life success on something else - like what you want to learn or the type of person you want to be.
Seems like I learned to feel good for other people‘s accomplishments, but I haven‘t unlearned comparing myself to them, and feeling good if I accomplish something they do not.
I feel much happier when people in my social circle are well off and living a great life.
I have also found that helping those around me succeed, whether financially, or personally, usually improves my own quality of life in someway (not always of course).
I also fully agree that one should only compare self to oneself.
After all we are all unique
IMHO happiness is truly achieved when shared :)
In my personal experience, I'd say this is a very unique quality to have. Not all friends and family members can be like this.
A tournament can be called competitive and a participant can be called competitive, but these don't mean quite the same thing.
Evolution is inherently competitive, but humans become competitive by evolution.
In short? No. Fitness is.
The distinction is between competition in the sense of individuals or groups competing, over things that are often irrelevant with respect to evolution, vs the fundamental principle that given a set of environmental constraints and a limited pool of resources, an entity that can repeatedly propagate more effectively than others will tend towards a greater relative abundance.
The fact that many extremely successful species are not individually competitive proves that evolution does not require all winners to be individually competitive.
It's not that we can't cope - human beings have amazing mechanisms to adapt to harsh situations - but rather so many problems are new enough that there is little prior societal understanding and defense for it.
When a problem is widespread enough to affect many members of society, the practices and solutions to that problem eventually enter the social vocabulary and become common knowledge. Social culture is filled with antibodies to past problems - college, seat belts, smoking, fitness - just to name a few things ingrained in society that passively guards our well being.
It's when new problems that affect entire generations emerge too quickly, there's not yet good common advice for how to deal.
The other day I've seen a trailer of a series on Netflix - Mars Generation, I think? I couldn't even finish it, because when I saw those kids doing the things I always wanted, it made me think about all similar realizations - that e.g. my university started doing things with rockets and satellites just after I graduated, that left and right I see cool spacetech opportunities offered to students only, etc. I'm having a hard time dealing with the fact I was just born few years too early. It's a stupid, irrational jealousy.
- Gore Vidal
Is it irrational and stupid? In a society at the limits of of its resources and stuck in a Malthusian trap, there is often zero-sum competition between members of the society.
Until the modern period and real technological growth, most humans lived in societies that were approaching local research constraints. Famine was common. If your neighbor had a bit more, it's likely because you had a bit less.
In that sort of a situation, learning that your peer makes twice as much as you thought is revealing quite a few things: e.g. you could have found a way to get paid much more and society is less equal or 'fair' than you thought.
Somehow only in the things he cares about. He has a car and a much better PC, still he envies my money.
This sort of logic is also part of why social media can be so damaging in general. Sites like Twitter, YouTube and Instagram heavily spotlight outliers who've become incredibly successful at their field, which will by definition make many people feel like failures in comparison.
And well, with most people being very image focused and only showing their successes on these sites, it can give the impression everyone else in the world is wildly successful while you're the only one struggling at all.
Still, that's something the internet reinforces in general really. That regardless of what you're interested in or seemingly good at, that there will always be hundreds or thousands better than you at it.
But yes, the half-empty version is the depressing awareness that you're not really "good" at anything.
I think I've noticed this a bit in myself - before I had broadband internet I was more willing to play around and tinker with things, now I struggle a bit harder to find motivation to try anything I'm not already good at.
When I come across these people, rather than feeling inferior to them, I try to learn what I can from them so that I can do and be better the next time.
Feeling inferior is nothing more than an (likely false) acknowledgement that you don't want to be a lifelong learner.
Better to work and make money and position while you still can. Thats the reality of the modern world. I don't care about the joneses by do I care about my inability to provide in future.
Old age these days is 3-4 decades, I've seen what happens to people who end up with little money when they are old. It makes me insecure and scared. I am not sure how easy or hard it is to decide to end your life before you are too old, I am guessing its not easy to convince yourself.
The fundamental question is whether or not man can evolve enough to not be a greedy piece of shit that's willing to claw and stab his way to the top.
As a 44+ year-old software engineer who is still gainfully employed, and who doesn't see that changing any time soon, I'm not sure what to make of your assertion...?
Are you seriously saying being older than 30 years of age is considered "old"?
You forget a big part I think: planning for your future. You don't know if you'll have a job 10 years from now. If you have kids you know you need a bunch of cash to make sure they get a reasonable education down the road. Of course you'll feel the pressure to prepare for such eventualities. Not everyone is "living in the moment".
Nor is everyone obsessed with being winners, of the moral high ground as in this case.
Sure working your ass off 80h/w will make you a penny or two more but you may die in the process and will have to sacrifice something to make time.
My father passed away with 200+ days of unspent holiday, and I cannot remember a moment with him. I for sure won’t make the same mistake
... You forget a big part I think: planning for your future. ...
Perhaps this view of life has some roots in the Buddhist religion as well.
I do think if I would choose to stay in Europe it would be very hard for me to live in the moment, but I think in Thailand it should be possible. The problem is here you have to pay a lot of taxes, can make little savings and pretty much have to work 40 hours a week to have some disposable income, this is especially true if you have a wife, children, etc... As a software developer it should be easy, when staying in Thailand, to just work perhaps 25 hours a week and have enough income for a very easy, worry-free life.
That has nothing to do with Buddhism, it's because developing countries dont have govt provided social security so old people have to depend on their kids for support.
But suffering tends to be sharper in poorer countries and some people find it stressful to be around so much less hidden suffering than a richer country where the poorer people are invisible.
> “The church should care for any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God very much....But those who won't care for their own relatives, especially those living in the same household, have denied what we believe. Such people are worse than unbelievers” (1 Timothy 5:3-4, 8)
Migration flows are always away from those cultures, and towards cultures where people do think about the future.
The thing is, everybody likes to dream about the care-free life, but nobody wants to experience the inevitable ultimate results of that: poverty, crime, underachievement (e.g. never accomplishing anything on a long time horizon), and powerlessness at the hands of people who planned.
Never forget the little red hen .
I grew up in a diverse community in Brooklyn NY. There were marked differences in ambition amongst cultures. BUT Not all lack of ambition is negative as I personally witnessed. It may be negative at a society-level, but I witnessed very happy people. Parents who played soccer with their children daily. Parents who were always present at dinner. People who lived paycheck to paycheck, but were happy. Obviously, this is NY, so there are some safety nets for two-sigma cases (medicaid, housing support.)
Remember that ambition often comes with a cost (I worked 10+yrs on Wall Street, most high achievers I worked with rarely made it home for dinner with kids.) So many people I worked with were miserable.
> Migration flows are always away from those cultures, and towards cultures where people do think about the future.
Source? How exactly is the amount of "thinking about the future" determined?
It's better to work 40 hours, follow and help her in school than work 80h and be the stranger that throws money over a wall to send her away from home under the guise of "it is good for you, trust me".
If you can afford to live in luxury with only 40h a week, then it's great, but don't assume that everyone can do it without trade-offs. And if that trade-off is your kid not getting the best chances in education down the road, then it's worth thinking about it twice, if you do love your kids.
... I know for a fact that I am better off than my parents ...
I mean think about it. If you're anything like me, you've spent the first 24 or so years of your life in school (paid for in a large part by the government), and the last 30 years in retirement. That gives you about 54 years of not working and 44 years of working - and that's about 5 days a week, with an extra 21-24 holidays + national holidays.
What I'm saying is, you work relatively little yet with the taxes you pay for that you live a very comfortable life. And the work isn't too bad either most of the time.
People often say the government pay for something without breaking that down and realising it's tax-payers/society who pay. That's always worth remembering IMO.
I agree it's worth remembering that "the government doesn't have its own money", but it's as much - if not more, these days - important to remember that paying taxes and every citizen having their tax money in their pocket are not equivalent scenarios. At the very least, governments use tax money to smooth things out on the wealth spectrum. Whether you're rich or poor, you get the same baseline of education, health, security and convenience.
Honestly I'm not so sure that's true anymore. It's hard to compare our current situation with parents late in their career of course, but I feel like they didn't had the difficulties we experience to access home ownership (that's a thing in europe and valued areas in the us). Also when I look at myself or my friends with reasonably wealthy parents, I am pretty sure most of us will not match our parents' wealth.
In the UK politicians like to talk about social mobility but I can't help feeling that is a lesser issue than equality. People only want to move up the social ladder because they are at the bottom.
Further, I think even the early settlers could have benefited from working smarter, not just harder. Indigenous Americans built shelters using mud and straw that insulated much better than settlers' houses, for example. Imitating the success of people already here might have saved lives.
So true. I have enough money to pay for my apartment, hobbies, new technology etc. I know that a lot of my friends earn 3 times my salary and to be frank, it eats me up inside.
I have not yet found a good way to combat this feeling.
I don't find this very convincing. This would only seem to be the case where the amount of effort is tied to one's salary, but for hourly wages this is much less likely to be true. I also don't think it's a kind of built-in part of our brain structure; this feels like a very "human nature" type argument which is wholly unsubstantiated. It is true that what we consider to be "human nature" (such as the arising of the desire for personal fame) actually originated in definite periods of history. It is also true that various economic orders, those feudalistic, capitalistic, of the slave society etc. bring about different changes in consciousness.
So for that reason, I don't think it's wise to project the desire to be more well off than one's peers as an innate factor especially considering alternative modes of organization in which overwork for this sake does not occur, or at least has no good reason to occur. The trouble with what I'm saying is that humans are 'stamped' with the mark of their current productive forces such that imagining alternatives is not only difficult but it seems utopian and impossible.
I also don't really buy the small society vs big society dichotomy as you have used it here. Even in small societies there are times where people 'earn' more for the same amount of work, are there not? I would argue that the problems you suggest exist are merely exacerbated by a global capitalist society rather than caused by it, but also that they are nevertheless features of any capitalist society.
In smaller societies, you have less people to compare to.
But what about the rise in real estate prices that happened just about when people were getting double income?
Overwork may be market-driven more than we think.
If a place has high standard of living, competition to live there will make people willing to pay more to live there until standard of living is back to the mean.
But your point remains -- costs are out of line from our parents' generation. I cannot afford to buy my father's house even with 4x the salary he made. Salary-Housing multiples are insane and drives people to make poor work choices.
Don't really agree they are the same observations, but do see the similarities.
This is the book: