September 22, 2009
I heard a radio ad the other day for an art exhibit about “our real favorite pasttime: work.” That phrase struck a chord.
Isn’t it true? We Americans love to work. We may not think we love it, but why do we spend so much unbroken time at it?
Americans take far less vacation time than their European and some other international counterparts. It’s a whole different culture. Europeans get several weeks of vacation per year. For Brazilians, it’s 30 days. Just the psychological boost of an 11-month work year is advantageous. One can think of a whole month of time off and how to fill the time. Having that expanse – even if it is broken up into two two-week pieces – allows one to be far more creative and expansive than if the horizon is a long weekend or a quick week, as it is for most Americans.
Americans are workaholics, plain and simple. And they are proud of their work ethic. I think many people in countries with more of a culture of longer vacations think their work ethic is okay too. Maybe they think of it as a well-balanced life ethic. In any case, we urge people to think about bringing more balance into their lives, perhaps by taking a longer vacation and really getting away from work, or taking a full-fledged sabbatical for a few months to reboot and refresh.