In the current mobility sector, or society in general, we’re all very busy optimizing the day-to-day tasks. Automating commuting, reducing the time spent on doing groceries, making sure you must spend as little time possible eating to keep your energy levels up.

We’re optimizing our time so to speak. The end goal would be freeing up time to do other things, right? The activities you would want to spend your time on.

The trend however is the opposite. We’re freeing up time to make sure we can be more productive. Waste less time on things that have ‘no value’ and spend more time on things that do.

Working? Working more, that’s better right? Is that the case? I know there are a lot of people that would agree, but what does ‘better’ mean? (A lot would probably also disagree).

Since there’s little feeling for what we can or should do with our time we fill it up with doing more work. Because working means being productive, which means adding value, which means adding meaning to your time. It’s an automatic response, an easy response. No need to reflect on our actions.

What is the thing that mankind is not able to do?

During a conference it was mentioned that the thing that most of mankind is unable to do is to sit down quiet and alone in a room. We dare not try such a thing, who knows what might happen? Sudden introspection perhaps? The horror!

We numb ourselves with the illusion of meaning and fill up the space with shortcut versions of the very thing we look for most; actual meaning and fulfilment (is this the case? Or just an assumption? Correct me if I’m wrong and why).

(And yes, this comes from the perspective of a man who has all necessities in live fulfilled. From food to water, from housing to safety, from a social life to no financial worries).

What do we need?

I once read a paper about the things a man (or woman) needs to live a meaningful life. The primary needs, the secondary needs, the tertiary needs and so on.

Image from: https://blanchethouse.org/5-levels-of-human-needs/

Man needs to survive, to thrive and to live. Once these base levels were met, we lost something, a true sense of meaning.

A quote about the ideal life

During the conference a quote was given from a philosopher who described the ideal life for mankind. You see, the life of this thriving person was as follows:

In the morning the man gathered potatoes from his garden/ farm, in the afternoon he went on to work and build some furniture and once the evening arrived, he would read poetry.

– Some philosopher, lost the name

A very wise quote. A lot of thought must have been put into that idea. You gather the need to survive, the potatoes, then you create something out of nothing that has a purpose and once that has been done you relax, lay down and read poetry, some form of creative exploration.

It covers quite the bunch. In our current average day in society, we have done something weird. This balance of things is not as it should be. Each part, live, create, enjoy, from this quote is misbalanced.

Surviving is outsourced

We outsource our need to live. You can order any amount of food, water, shelter and needs within seconds. One press of a button. No time must be spent whatsoever on focusing to survive (in the West I suppose, and yes, I am generalizing for the purpose of laying out this idea of misbalance once a person has reached this state).

Adding value is our main focus point. Producing more is better.

Then we have the part of creating, adding value perhaps if we rephrase. ALL TIME is spent focusing on this. Like I mentioned in the previous paragraph, our sense of adding value by creating and working is the easy route to having a feeling of meaning.

Since the first (industrial) revolution we have been optimizing and adding larger and bigger parts of our time to this part of an ideal life. More work means more production, means more value, means more meaning. It has been consuming more and more of the pie (if you see the pie as a circle that should have three equal pieces).

Actual living is lost?

Then there’s the last part, the actual enjoyment. This is not the hedonistic sense of eating, drinking or just consuming to enjoy, but the feeling of actual fulfilment. Feeding that sense of purpose, reflecting on life, and enjoying the beauty that it offers .

Is it a right assessment to think that working more, means more value, means more meaning? Or is even worse? More work, means more income, means more money, means more to spent, means a better life (this assumes that buying things gives the meaning to people, instead of feeling valued by working more) Something to explore another time.

What is the problem?

So what is the problem? There’s the quote that lays out how it should or could be and then there’s the way things are now. Instead of having a pie with three equal pieces we have one giant piece of work, one immensely small piece of living and no part of enjoyment. We lost that part somewhere, I believe.

Why did we lose it? Has it disappeared? Or did it just get replaced? That’s what we’re here to discover. Where’s the last piece of this pie of the way that life should or could be.

The way of living that we’re all so hard trying to get, but seem to miss (or never reach).

Why is it that working more does not automatically mean that you live a better life?

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