Some people think it’s the Protestant work ethic, others that it’s a genetic predisposition. Me? I think it’s to do with the highly competitive nature of western societies.
Whatever you think causes it, the inability of adults, including myself, to spend a day doing nothing is kind of problematic. It’s something I often discuss with Laura Hilliger (and she refers to it regularly in her excellent newsletter)
There’s a university in Hamburg, Germany, giving out ‘idleness grants’ for people to do absolutely nothing. Emma Beddington’s answers to the questions on the application form aren’t too different to how I’d answer:
What do you not want to do? I want not to compare my achievements, or lack of them, with others’. If successful, for the duration of my idleness grant I will crush the exhausting running mental commentary that points out what those with energy, drive and ambition are achieving and enumerates my inadequacies. When one or other of my nemeses tweets the dread phrase “some personal news” (always the precursor to an announcement of professional glory), I will not feel bad, because I will have accepted that “being quite lazy” has inherent merit in 2020.Emma Beddington, Doing nothing is so easy for me. But how to feel good about it? (The Guardian)
It’s always possible to do more and be more, but sometimes it’s important to just spend time being who you already are.