Last night I took a cough drop to supress an itchy throat that had kept me up far too long the night before. As the lozenge dissolved and coated my throat in menthol, I glanced down at the wrapper and noticed some not so subliminal messages Halls had chosen to appeal to consumers and affirm their purchase decison.
A pep talk in every drop. Get back in the game. You've survived tougher. Buckle down and push forth.
It sounds well-meaning or perhaps just stock quotes you'd expect from a high school football coach, but for me it signaled just how prevalent the values of powering through and taking pride in long work hours are in American culture. Even when it makes no sense.
I can't go for that anymore. All it seems like to me is blind acceptance and I can't help but think there's something fundamentally wrong with that. Why is life for so many here nothing more than a never-ending quest of working hard, achieving goals and making money at whatever cost to our physical and mental health? I find nothing wrong with working hard given we believe in what we're doing, but if we're completely honest, a frightnening number of us are doing bullshit jobs that are fed to us and swallowed because we accept this American identity.
I don't know if we got here from lingering Puritan ethics, capitalist design or chance circumstance (and it doesn't even matter), but I think it's important to be aware there are other philosophies we can learn from. One such example is this talk from a Thai farmer who has a radically different view on work, life and happiness than the Western world. So much so that (predictably) one commenter oversimplifies and dismisses his views as laziness in Thai culture.
I constantly think about the bullshit jobs phenomenon because I see it everywhere I look, but one thing I want to adapt from this talk (even thought it's a small part of the overall message) is the thinking that when the body is sick, it's actually a message that we've done something wrong (for the most part) and need to heal it, whether that means rest, changing our diet or what we allow to stress us out. It's so very different to the norm of blaming other people's germs (in the office or on public transit) and correcting maladies through stimulants to power us through the day for productivity's sake.
I understand that some of you reading this will dismiss this as anti-Western sentiment (and maybe it is), but what is wrong with questioning the status quo when we are a nation of peoples whose history is just that? The type of disruption I'm seeking is not merely relegated to a select industry, but on a much larger scale because I don't believe things are working so well. Like everything though, change starts on an individual level so it's time for me to shut up, stop preaching and practice what I've learned.