Self appeasement is misjudged as lazy, unproductive, and a waste of time in today’s materialistic, capitalist-driven, and ultra productive society. The basis of this book is the notion that one’s leisure time is an essential cost to one’s busy life. Unfortunately leisure time is also essential to being happy and self fulfilled. This book reminds people of the benefits of taking time to reflect, to meditate, and to appreciate one’s surroundings. I often caught myself nodding my head in agreement with reading this book. This book reminded me of my recent trip to New York City over spring break. I felt like every person had their own private mission, driven by a sort of tunnel vision. There was not time for leisure or socializing in the eyes of a New Yorker. It felt like many New Yorkers could learn from the perspective of this book. I do not think a productive life is more valuable than an unproductive one, in terms of one’s professional contribution to society. I do think many people develop an unbalance in their lives between taking time for themselves and not wasting time. For example, in my life, I am a firm believer that sleep trumps studying if it’s past midnight in most circumstances. But, I seem to be in the minority especially in college. I hear conversations in which college student are comparing their sleep cycles (or lack of sleep), like it’s a good thing to get less sleep. It is understandable that college is a tough and time-consuming sector of our lives, but I think more people would feel happier and feel more rewarded if their lives weren’t being compared to others’ lives so much. I think this book would agree in the sense that more of life should be savored than rushed. Productivity should be checked against one’s level of exhaustion. We are constantly pressured to see how far we can reach before breaking. I think a majority of us are closer to that breaking point than is healthy. Being overcommitted isn’t necessarily the most healthy habit even if it’s viewed as a sign of productivity. I think what is worse than pressuring oneself are the external comparisons and negative social stigma that one’s productivity or idleness level receive.
With all that said, I think some social stigmas have turned around since 2005 when this book was published. I think there is a growing concern over the over-prescribed antidepressants this country’s citizens consume and a growing push to develop alternative methods to cope with the overcommitted lifestyle. There is still a negative social stigma toward taking time for oneself, but it is getting better. Not only does savoring one’s lunch, taking a long stroll, or meditating slow down one’s busy life, it improves one’s mental health. Mental health is something that this book doesn’t really bring up, but I think it could go hand in hand with the message of this book. Mental health is crucial to executive function in the workplace and elsewhere and should be a top priority for the individual and for society as a whole. Beginning in childhood there is a pressure from relatives and strangers alike to look and act the best, but we are not taught to care for our mental well-being along the way. This book brings up many ways to remedy the stresses of modern life without explicitly stating their benefits for mental health. Savoring time for tea, fishing, and taking naps heal the spirit and the mind. All these acts reflect on the major theme of this book which is finding ways to “just be”.
Instead of a recent news story, I found a somewhat recently conducted study that found watching Planet Earth makes you happier. I thought this article relates to this book because of the major themes of happiness and self appeasement. What is better than finding those things than through nature (even if it is through a screen).