Don't Work

A friend of mine recently remarked on how I seem “really chill”, as if I “don’t work much”. Indeed, I told her that I’m lucky enough to work probably less than half the year. And my goal is to continuously reduce that as much as possible, hopefully someday to zero.

This is because “work” as we know it — as a means to obtain money — is unnatural and therefore deleterious to our health and well-being. In the natural world, we would only ever be doing things that directly relate to our survival and pleasure. Money is arbitrary and indirect, and thus the connection is lost.

Let’s say it’s your job to carry a heavy object up six flights of stairs, as it is for a mover — or even that your job is just to sit in one spot for eight hours and analyze numbers. Either way, for your time and effort you are paid a sum that allows you to buy food (survival) or take a vacation (pleasure). But moving that object or analyzing those numbers — at least in the natural world — in no way leads to being fed or smelling the roses. They’re just arbitrary acts for which modern society established a reward system that’s trained us to perform — and even vie for — activities that we would otherwise never think to do; activities that would actually be a waste of our time.

Instead, natural “work” might be putting time and effort into, say, roaming through a forest to forage for something to eat (survival) or to smell a flower (pleasure). It is direct and pure. It is this kind of logical work that creates satisfaction and well-being.

Modern life has overcomplicated this simple, soulful way of being with extraneous variables, perhaps to increase our “standard of living”. But our standards — at least here in the developed world — are actually luxuries and not necessarily worth the price that many pay with surrendering half of their waking life. In many cases, the luxuries themselves even contribute to our unhappiness, such as by isolating us in our single-occupancy apartments.

My uncommonly low workload is made possible by a mixture of luck and design. I’m lucky enough to have parents who set me up with a support system that cushioned me enough to explore ways of being without feeling suffocated by the demands of society. But I also took proper advantage of this and designed my life in such a way as to accelerate my returns on their investment — most notably by finding ways to be self-employed (and thus in control of how my time is spent) and to minimize my spending (and thus my reliance on money and, therefore, work).