We might be deluded in the U.S. We focus on being the best. At everything. And we ignore the results.
We aim for exceptionalism … being the outlier, the best, the far right of the bell curve. We practice exceptionalism … choosing exceptions to avoid doing what would make us exceptional.
Societies around the globe invest deeply in their leisure. The investment is the biggest we can make. Time.
It ranges from the daily to the seasonal. Long walks with others, long lunches with wine and friends, regular meditation, or extended summers with relaxing vacations. Other societies unplug regularly. And connect with others … regularly.
Studies show that the U.S. works more than anyone else. They also show we are unhappy and dysfunctional. We have the highest incidence of chronic lifestyle-originated disease, highest incarceration rate per capita, a low degree of education effectiveness and a poor health care system with gold plated costs.
It’s possible the root cause for these dysfunctional highs and lows are the same.
We don’t spend enough time with recreation.
In the 1930’s, Keynes, predicted our biggest dilemma in the future would be what to do with our leisure time. Our productivity gains were so steady. He foresaw a lot of free time on our hands. What would we do with it?
We answered the question of his dilemma handily. We decided to consume. To consume we need money. To get money we must work. We began the cycle of the consumer driven economy.
Fast forward 50 years … Our consumption patterns established a new perceived level of need. We need the flat screen TV, the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air. We no longer want it. We need it. And we need money to buy it.
We now have dual earner households out of “need”, not want. If we stop, we’ll derail our economy. We wouldn’t want that, would we?
So we work more to get more and wind up with less. The result …. dysfunctional highs and lows.
Recreation is not about relaxing. It’s not about having a good time. It’s not about Thank Goodness It’s Friday.
It’s not recreation… It’s re-creation.
The relaxation and good times is not the end game. It’s about re-creating ourselves. As individuals. As families. As businesses. As a nation. As a people.
If your recreation does not refresh, recharge, reinvigorate and reinvent you, it’s not recreation. It’s just a waste of time.
We can change the dysfunctional highs and lows. Make recreation about re-creation. Health will improve, education will improve, communities will improve, incarceration will drop, chronic lifestyle diseases will decline.
Choose to be exceptional at recreation, instead of making recreation the exception. We might just find the results we’re seeking. Exceptionalism might be the right path after all.
Are you wasting your time?