Even though many offices have reopened and most high-tech companies have called in their employees, many people prefer, or even ask to keep working from home. Many of them are willing to cut down their wages or other benefits in return for the comfort of staying home, spending less time on the road, and alleviating some of the stress of a full-time job. In general, it seems as though people lost much of the drive they’d had to achieve. Instead, they seem content with getting by and leading a comfortable, easy going lifestyle.
It is interesting to see how the culture of excessive workaholism that the West had so struggled to cultivate for nearly a century, and which began toward the end of the Great Depression, can evaporate so quickly. We used to think of young people as ambitious and motivated, but it turns out that that mindset is gone, “cleared out” by the virus.
Today, people seem content with simply living. And indeed, why not? Until the beginning of consumerism, people weren’t so troubled with achievements; they wanted to support themselves and their families, and if they succeeded, they were happy. What was wrong with it? Are people with successful careers happier than others? I’m not at all certain that they are.
What does make people happy is inner development, when they realize their personal potential and feel that their lives have a meaning and a purpose. If we can secure our physical existence, then our happiness depends on realizing our inner potential. And especially today, realizing that potential is related to our social ties. When people develop positive social connections, when they support each other and help each other grow, they feel happy, content, and safe. They are happy to contribute their skills and abilities to society, and the rest of the members of society happily do likewise. Together, they maximize their personal potential, lift society to new heights, enable others to benefit from their achievements, and make it easier on others to realize their own potential, too.
And what is most important, they achieve this without the strain of a demanding, competitive job that exhausts them to the point where they have no energy to socialize. The time when jobs and careers forced people to become lonely and sad is coming to an end. Now that we’ve been impelled to work less, travel less, and think more, we are ready to realize what a gift it is to care about others rather than be concerned only with ourselves.
Michael Antonorsi, Chief Joy Activator at Chuao Chocolatier, goes over some documents as he works from his beachfront home during the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Leucadia, California, U.S., June 17, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake