In the U.S., the message of ambition and efficiency is widely promoted. We have high aspirations for our lives and higher expectations from this world, and we don’t like to be still because that is time wasted in our pursuit of happiness. It’s the American dream.
Sometimes, the American dream is exhausting. While I think that this indefatigable work ethic is an admirable part of our culture, it can also be a great downfall in excess.
Multiple studies show that American workers put in a much greater number of hours than the global average. Americans work approximately 137 hours per year more than Japanese workers, 260 hours more per year than British workers and 499 hours more per year than French workers, according to the International Labour Organization.
Perhaps the only way we can hope to convince ourselves to slow down is to realize that burning ourselves out will not be beneficial to our goals in the long run. Ambition is healthy, but over-ambition can lead to stress, isolation and loneliness.
“The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness,” said American psychologist Abraham Masclow.
This is good reminder, especially in the conclusion of, yet, another school year. It is easy to look forward to the next step, the next phase of “Life Plan: Be Successful and Happy.” Some students are worried about internships or outlining what post-grad life will look like. On top of that, many of us are practically cowering from the looming shadow of our approaching final projects and tests.
Although the year is rapidly coming to a close, we still have a few weeks left until we all go our separate ways. Not a single one of us will ever get this semester, with this specific group of people, at this specific time, back. So, instead of ravenously planning and looking to the future, I encourage you to take time to think about how you feel in this moment, to think about what you will miss and to think about what you have learned about yourself this semester. We all could use a little more reflection and self-awareness in our bustling lives.