The Youniverse

Less work, more play.

It is our deep desire for less work and more free-time that has driven the development of our technologies. We have decided and continue to decide that work sucks, and that we’d rather have fun doing things we truly enjoy. 

The truth is most of us hate getting up in the morning and working at some boring, mind-numbing cubicle, or assembly line, or white-walled store. So we have developed the means to free ourselves or limit the amount of time we spend on that type of work. 

Through automation we can now produce more food, clothing, shelter and medicine than we know what to do with. This reality is obscured by our inane love for competition, which produces an illusion of scarcity. In actuality, we produce so much stuff that we feel more comfortable throwing it away rather than saving it, probably because we are implicitly encouraged to do so. We have so much stuff that many of us spend our time convincing others to buy it. We have so much stuff that we need larger and larger homes to keep it all, and now have an influx of storage facilities for overflow.

The reality is that we now have the capability to be free of work and follow our true joy like never before. And the unstoppable, strengthening momentum of technology is leading us to even less work. Others may tell you this is a bad thing, that we need jobs, otherwise people will be homeless or whatever. These people are looking at our development from an old perspective. They cannot imagine a world where people have the freedom to fill their days with enjoyable activities. They resort to calling us “free-loaders” or “lazy”, as if our desire for less work is wrong or that we should actually desire to be productive little humans, mindlessly producing what we are told to produce. They forget the reasons we have developed as a society at all. 

Make no mistake about it: we are progressing to create less work and less stress, not more. Don’t let the older generation’s limited imagination convince you that we cannot create a world of increasing enjoyment. Our desire is strong enough. It has always been strong enough. It has been and is still leading us to where we want to go. We will get there faster if we each allow our desire full expression and stop listening to the naysayers. We only need to believe in our desire. History is on our side. The future is bright.

What Happened to the 15-Hour Week?

LONDON—As people in the developed world wonder how their countries will return to full employment after the Great Recession, it might benefit us to take a look at a visionary essay that John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1930, called “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren.”

Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, published in 1936, equipped governments with the intellectual tools to counter the unemployment caused by slumps. In this earlier essay, however, Keynes distinguished between unemployment caused by temporary economic breakdowns and what he called “technological unemployment” — that is, “unemployment due to the discovery of means of economizing the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labour.”

Keynes reckoned that we would hear much more about this kind of unemployment in the future. But its emergence, he thought, was a cause for hope, rather than despair. For it showed that the developed world, at least, was on track to solving the “economic problem” — the problem of scarcity that kept mankind tethered to a burdensome life of toil.

Machines were rapidly replacing human labour, holding out the prospect of vastly increased production at a fraction of the existing human effort. In fact, Keynes thought that by about now (the early twenty-first century) most people would have to work only 15 hours a week to produce all that they needed for subsistence and comfort.

Developed countries are now about as rich as Keynes thought they would be, but most of us work much longer than 15 hours a week, though we do take longer holidays, and work has become less physically demanding, so we also live longer. But, in broad terms, the prophecy of vastly increased leisure for all has not been fulfilled. Automation has been proceeding apace, but most of us who work still put in an average of 40 hours a week. In fact, working hours have not fallen since the early 1980s.

At the same time, “technological unemployment” has been on the rise. Since the 1980s, we have never regained the full employment levels of the 1950s and 1960s. If most people still work a 40-hour week, a substantial and growing minority have had unwanted leisure thrust upon them in the form of unemployment, underemployment, and forced withdrawal from the labour market. And, as we recover from the current recession, most experts expect this group to grow even larger.

What this means is that we have largely failed to convert growing technological unemployment into increased voluntary leisure. The main reason for this is that the lion’s share of the productivity gains achieved over the last 30 years has been seized by the well-off.

Particularly in the United States and Britain since the 1980s, we have witnessed a return to the capitalism “red in tooth and claw” depicted by Karl Marx. The rich and very rich have gotten very much richer, while everyone else’s incomes have stagnated. So most people are not, in fact, four or five times better off than they were in 1930. It is not surprising that they are working longer than Keynes thought they would.

But there is something else. Modern capitalism inflames through every sense and pore the hunger for consumption. Satisfying it has become the great palliative of modern society, our counterfeit reward for working irrational hours. Advertisers proclaim a single message: your soul is to be discovered in your shopping.

Aristotle knew of insatiability only as a personal vice; he had no inkling of the collective, politically orchestrated insatiability that we call economic growth. The civilization of “always more” would have struck him as moral and political madness.

And, beyond a certain point, it is also economic madness. This is not just or mainly because we will soon enough run up against the natural limits to growth. It is because we cannot go on for much longer economizing on labour faster than we can find new uses for it. That road leads to a division of society into a minority of producers, professionals, supervisors, and financial speculators on one side, and a majority of drones and unemployables on the other.

Apart from its moral implications, such a society would face a classic dilemma: how to reconcile the relentless pressure to consume with stagnant earnings. So far, the answer has been to borrow, leading to today’s massive debt overhangs in advanced economies. Obviously, this is unsustainable, and thus is no answer at all, for it implies periodic collapse of the wealth-producing machine.

The truth is that we cannot go on successfully automating our production without rethinking our attitudes toward consumption, work, leisure, and the distribution of income. Without such efforts of social imagination, recovery from the current crisis will simply be a prelude to more shattering calamities in the future.

Robert Skidelsky’s new book, co-authored with Edward Skidelsky, is How Much is Enough?

(Source: http)

Hard work is overrated. It is not a requirement for getting all that we want in life. Passionate work is. It is too often that the hardest workers are also among the poorest people on our planet.

The difference between the unsuccessful and the successful is that the successful all seem to be passionate enough about their passion that they choose to make it the main focus of their life. They all have a deep, totally engrossing passion for the work they do.

To others it may seem that the successful work hard, but this doesn’t mean they’re struggling while they work. Their work is driven by their passion and so there is no feeling of struggle whatsoever. There is only pure joy and pleasure.

Take athletes for example. An athlete training hard for competition would not rather do anything else. Training is actually a source of joy for them. It is driven by their passion for their game.

Why do we choose to work?

Ever since I have been looking at life with a neutral focus I have started to notice how weird our “normal” perspectives of life are.

I cannot believe how many of us have bought into other people’s definitions of how we should live life. We do things that we don’t want to do and live our lives in complete misery all because someone else told us that “that’s just the way life is.”

The funny thing is these other people don’t have any more of a clue of how life is than you or I. They just made up some story and sold it to others, and then the others continued to sell it to others and now we end up with a world believing in some other people’s story.

The fact is and always will be that life is devoid of meaning. It absolutely has none built into it whatsoever. We are the only ones that gives each of our lives meaning. I cannot emphasize that point enough!

So why do we listen to others and believe that their meaning or definition of life is more believable than our own? It boggles my mind to think of how many people do this everyday of their lives. 

Our whole society is built on other people’s definition of life. Most of our lives consist of going to work/school everyday, many times against our own true will. Why? Because we think work and school have a built-in ability to support us. They don’t. They are neutral places that we associate with the concept of support. The question is: how do we define “support”? It can be defined very vaguely to define all types of support or we can define it very narrowly onto one particular type, like financial support associated with work. Support can come in ways that we can’t even imagine but we have chosen to focus our definition very narrowly onto one type instead. Under this type of definition, we must go to work or school because only those places are associated with support to us. But remember, it is only because we defined them as actions that support us that we get that effect out of them. It’s like we defined a bicycle as the only form of transportation and then forced ourselves to ride it in a thunderstorm. It seems very ludicrous to me that we choose to do that, but we do, all the time.

Another question is: how do we define “work” in the first place? Right now, most of us define that work must be somewhere we go to perform duties for another person or group of people so that they can support us to live our lives. Some other people have defined work a little differently. For example, professional athletes play sports and live a life of extreme pleasure while getting paid vast amounts of money, all because they defined playing sports as “work”. The point is that we can define anything as work, including the actions that bring us joy in life. Defining the actions we enjoy in life as work can create the same effect as our traditional idea of what work should be. All actions are also fundamentally neutral. It is us who label them and define one as greater than the other. Why do we apply the meaning of work and support to actions we don’t prefer? Who said that the non-preferential action is the only one to be defined as work? 

We can continue going down the list of all the experiences in our life that we don’t enjoy and find out why we define those as something we must experience in that way. (Religious definitions anyone?)

One of the most influential beliefs I have seen that we have bought into is that “life can’t be fun and games all the time.” Why the hell not? Who said we can’t have fun living life? Life sure didn’t. It depends on what is defined as “fun” and “games”. For a lot of us we substitute those words with “enjoyment”. So our belief is really that “life can’t be enjoyment all the time.” Because of this definition of life we almost look for suffering and pain (Remember “No pain, no gain” or “All things worth having in life don’t come easy”?) We look at others who do enjoy life as “lazy slackers” or “spoiled rich folks”. All of this because we bought into others’ beliefs and definitions.

So once again, my main point is: we can take back the power to define life in ways we prefer so that we can enjoy it rather than live in misery. We can finally choose to realize that we have bought into others’ definitions and that we can stop judging the actions and experiences we prefer in life because of these other definitions.

Joy and Pain

As you go about your life, notice the actions you take. All of your actions are based on a simple rule. They are all taken in order to get closer to joy or further from pain. 

Now, it might not make sense to some, because many people choose an action that brings them no joy, but instead brings them pain. The reason the painful action is taken is because all alternative actions are defined to be even more painful than the one that is chosen.  For example, a person goes to work even though she hates it. The only reason she took that action is because she believed the alternatives could lead to poverty or some other more painful result.

This is an important observation because as I said in my other post, joy and pain are subjective and do not exist in the external world. So it all comes down to your definition of what brings you joy or pain. Take back your power from the external circumstances, redefine your preferred action as the most joyful and take it. 

Once again, you must take back your power to define your life as you see fit in order to gain true freedom in it.

Another one of my favorite commercials. This one is for

This relates to so many people out there who are not reaching their potential or who are to afraid to try to reach it. It seems very unlikely that the millions of people around the world doing work they don’t like each and every single day are reaching their true potential.

Believe in yourself, do what you love to do and reach your true potential. The stork sure believes in you.