The world's second-richest man and Mexico's version of Fatboy Slim, Carlos Slim, recently said at a conference in Paraguay that
commoners people should only be working three days a week, saying, "We would have more time to relax; for quality of life. Having four days [off] would be very important to generate new entertainment activities and other ways of being occupied."
I concur, Mr. Slim. I define anything you hate doing as work, and Americans work way too much.
Two things are assured to kill you -- stress, and sitting (but sleeping doesn't?). For every 30 seconds that your butt cheeks touch something, a chair, or step, it takes 33 seconds off of your life. These are not well known facts. Many people don't know about this because they're not based on mountains of data like comparing the flatness of butt cheeks of people who do nothing, to people with rounder bottoms who do something. The findings of this "study" were that if you have a nice butt, chances are you're doing yoga at 1 p.m. and sipping iced coffee on some beach, and are happier.
I've been a strong supporter of doing the things you hate the most in life as little as possible, if at all, and instead filling that time with doing things you love to do so long as you can pay for the shit you need to pay for, like a two year old, for example. I don't have a two year old, so I'm good.
We know that the work week across the world is getting a makeover. France is pretty... French, with their 35-hour work week, (the 35-hour work week is actually a threshold above which overtime and sick days start to accumulate), the Netherlands work an average of 29 hours (Holy shit. Heaven.). Denmark and Norway both average about 33 hours, and Germany and Switzerland with 35. Google even wants to end the 40-hour week, and instead, favor a four day work week. It's no coincidence that these countries (Google is kind of its own country) are always at the top or near the top of lists measuring the level of happiness of their citizens.
Europeans are working less and are happier. They're sipping espressos and painting people in parks. Americans are working more and are less happy, and as you'd imagine, are trying to do things other countries are doing who are happy, like Bikram yoga, and deejaying. South Koreans are working 2,300 hours a year, are miserable, and have the highest suicide rate in the world.
Compared to rural America, people who live in the four big cities, Boston, New York, Chicago, and L.A., are all unhappy -- generally. There are copious reasons for this. It could be that the cost of living is ungodly and everyone is trying to keep up with each other, whereas in rural America, you might not care about keeping up with the Joneses, or be stressed out because you're working 80 hour weeks and sitting in 10 hours worth of traffic. I wish I could have seen the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Boston gridlock during Memorial Day weekend. Traffic can break anyone.
The "do nothing" lifestyle, again, doesn't mean do nothing. Doing nothing when you see a baby in a stroller rolling down a hill is not good. Doing nothing instead of going to your wife's friend's baby's confirmation, is good. Doing nothing is actually doing what you want, whatever it is, and whenever you want to do it, so long as it's fun (and legal) and it makes you happy.
Practicing the do nothing (do whatever you want) lifestyle day-to-day can be difficult because if you aren't alone, it can ruin relationships. I know this. I frequently say, "Eh. I don't want to," or "I'd rather [insert anything else]." I'm no picnic to deal with, this I know. But I also don't care. And caring can sometimes get in the way. Yes. Stop caring, people, about unimportant shit.
We, AS A PEOPLE, need to worry more about what hobby we want to do the next day. Leave the office tomorrow at 3 p.m. and go learn how to sculpt, or learn a new language. Finger paint for Christ's sake! Do something other than leaving at 5 p.m. to sit in traffic with thousands of other people for the next 90 minutes, just to get home at 7 p.m., eat some pre-heated crap mess in a box, and watch one episode of Broadchurch (you should be watching Broadchurch), only to go to bed and do it all over again the next morning.
I beg you, America. Do something to change your routine. I want you to be happier. If that means quitting your dead-end job to pursue the piano, great. Okay, you'll spend your life savings, the house will be foreclosed on, and you might have your car repossessed, but you'll be FREE! Don't you see? Do ANYTHING. Well, except be a deejay. We have too many people who want to be deejays and Brooklyn is only so big.
I see the future of America, and it's full of your kids and grandkids doing nothing but dreaming of their cupcake business, driving red Jeeps to the beach, playing guitar on a boardwalk, and reading Dan Bilzerian's Instagram? Have you seen his Instagram, by the way? We're just a year apart in age but... ah shit. I hate my life.
Chris Peak is a freelance writer and musician from Boston. He's contributed to Huffington Post, Gawker, Deadspin, and Point Magazine. Follow him @chrishpeak where he tweets about random awkwardness and social annoyances.