Are you willing to embrace that truly slight inconvenience — and maybe pay a few dollars more — so that a person’s job is significantly less shitty? Think about in practice: are you willing to wait five more minutes for an Uber so that, when you get in, you know that your drive has health insurance and is making a living wage? Are you willing to pay $4 more for your yoga class (YOUR YOGA CLASS!) so that your teacher, who you likely venerate, can have some semblance of the stability/peace you yourself are attempting to find BY GOING TO YOGA??? Are you willing to have slightly less so that others can have significantly more? Or, as I like to think about it, do you actually care about other people?
Lately, lots of us are thinking and talking about burnout. How our work and daily routines are making us tired and sucking the joy out of our lives. We’re starting to think about what actions we can take to alleviate the feeling of burnout in our own lives. But this article asks us to think about how our actions can create burnout in other people.
In a small sense, that means respecting the boundaries of our colleagues, friends and family in a golden rule type fashion (do unto others…etc). But in a larger sense, that means buying into systems that respect those boundaries and allow us feel like real humans instead of meaningless cogs in the capitalist machine. And maybe MAYBE making a small, slightly uncomfortable impact on our own lives in an effort to make a much larger, game-changing impact on someone else’s life.
I think this idea is so important and one we don’t often think about. Don’t we all just want everything cheaper, faster, bigger? If it comes at the expense of another person’s wellbeing and financial stability, personally I’d rather have it a little more expensive, slower and smaller.
I found this article courtesy of Jocelyn K. Glei‘s newsletter which always has really great links about work, creativity, and making your life more enjoyable.
Hey, here’s what I got up to in September:
I attended DIY Fair and bought some killer candles. Every year my neighborhood hosts a weekend-long event where local artists and crafters set up shop under big white tents that take over two entire parking lots plus main street. I go just about every year and struggle not to spend an entire month’s income on art, candles, jewelry, and food. This year, I maintained my self control and only purchased a giant roasted veggie sandwich covered in hash browns and three candles from this shop I love called Pagan Potions. I bought the Unfuck Yourself candle from them last year and loved it, so I got another one this year plus Money Money Money and Manifestation Muthafucka. They’re all so beautiful and smell amazing. I’ve been burning the Unfuck Yourself one every day the past couple weeks, and I’ve felt so much more motivated and at peace than usual.
I cozied up at home and watched a whole bunch of tv. I started and finished the last season of Jessica Jones which I loved. I’m really bummed the series is over. I’m not generally that into super hero stuff, but the characters and story lines in Jessica Jones made it a great show that would’ve held up without any of the super stuff. My boyfriend and I started and finished the first season of Altered Carbon which was decent. The story was interesting, but it was a little hard to follow at some points. I wasn’t super invested in any of the characters, but the world building was pretty cool. My favorite thing I watched was definitely The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance. I started off by re-watching the original Dark Crystal movie, which was a huge staple in my childhood, before racing through the new show in the course of one weekend. I was a little nervous about how it would maintain continuity with the original movie, but I was pleasantly surprised that they treated the original with respect and brought in some interesting new pieces that actually fit well with the existing narrative.
I cooked so many stir fries with the spicy sriracha peanut sauce from this list. I’m obsessed with this sauce—it’s mega easy to make, I always keep the ingredients stocked in my pantry, and it’s so good I honestly lick the spoon to get every last drop. I like to pair this sauce with brown rice or buckwheat noodles (these are my go-to) + whatever veggies I have on hand + tempeh or whatever Quorn fake meat product I currently have in my freezer. If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, this would be it.
I had my regularly scheduled cleaning at the dentist. Keeping up with doctor appointments is a super important part of self care! I don’t particularly like the dentist, but it does feel really good to check it off my list and come home knowing that my mouth is healthy. It keeps those anxious what-if-I-have-a-million-cavities-and-need-ten-root-canals thoughts at bay. At every visit I schedule my next one for six months out since that makes it a WHOLE lot more likely that I’ll remember to go. My dentist even sends me text reminders a few days before my appointment which is super helpful. Consider this your call to GET YOU A DENTIST YOU ACTUALLY LIKE and MAKE THAT APPOINTMENT today.
What did you get up to in September?
Here’s a thing I read recently that I think is true:
“We’ve created this idea that the meaning of life should be found in work,” says Oren Cass, the author of the book The Once and Future Worker. “We tell young people that their work should be their passion. ‘Don’t give up until you find a job that you love!’ we say. ‘You should be changing the world!’ we tell them. That is the message in commencement addresses, in pop culture, and frankly, in media, including The Atlantic.”
But our desks were never meant to be our altars. The modern labor force evolved to serve the needs of consumers and capitalists, not to satisfy tens of millions of people seeking transcendence at the office. It’s hard to self-actualize on the job if you’re a cashier—one of the most common occupations in the U.S.—and even the best white-collar roles have long periods of stasis, boredom, or busywork. This mismatch between expectations and reality is a recipe for severe disappointment, if not outright misery, and it might explain why rates of depression and anxiety in the U.S. are “substantially higher” than they were in the 1980s, according to a 2014 study.
I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately. It seems right to want to love your work and find intense meaning in it. Most of us spend the majority of our waking life at work. To do something you don’t care about for 40 hours a week seems crazy and self-defeating.
But for most of us, work isn’t fun. We might enjoy it sometimes, but even us freelancers have to go through the daily slog of email and invoicing and often mundane projects that don’t even attempt to light up our creative brains but do pay the bills.
The article sees the solution to our happiness as working less. Once our culture shifts enough to allows for fewer work hours, we’ll be able to spend more time on our friends, family, and hobbies. That seems a pretty long way off for many of us who have piles of debt and insane rent prices to contend with and a government run by conservatives who are the worst at worshiping Work. Are we doomed to be unhappy until the economy catches up with our humanity?
That’s bleak. I’m still going to try and love my work in the meantime, because even if I’m only doing my job 15 hours a week, that’s still a pretty hefty chunk of my life. I’d like to enjoy that time if I can.