The cult of busyness, and how to escape it | Kierkegaard saw busyness as the sign of an unhappy person, and an attempt to distract ourselves from life’s most important questions.

  1. This is from the esthetic section of either/or. The book contains a back and fourth between two men: the esthetic (the seducer) and the ethical (the married man). This is not Kierkegaard giving his advice, but an alias that does not hold the same opinions as Kierkegaard. A lot of his pseudonymous writing is meant to cause reflection and discussion. It is not meant to be direct advice or for the reader to be 100% in agreement with.

  2. The Tao of Pooh is such a lovely book, it was the first book to truly get me into philosophy. Lots of great lessons to be learned from Winnie the Pooh

  3. Oh I adore that book. My mentor, who died of a drowning accident last year, always had this book on her desk. I would love to have a copy, but can't find it anywhere!

  4. I love this book also. My Mum’s Mother gave this book to my Dad when they were together. 6 months later they divorced. After reading this book, it became obvious to me that my Mum is a Bisy Backson, while my dad is just like Pooh.

  5. Not sure about happiness, but I did get some strange looks from successful friends who work 16 hour days when I told them my idea of success would be to keep my current earnings, but only having to work something like 20 hours a week. I get you do have to work hard at times, and I do too whenever I need to. But I'm sorry you have no life and your wife doesn't even remember what you look like.

  6. I took a day off once and when I got back everyone thought something happened. I said I wanted a day to myself (wife was working) and I played disc golf. Everyone was completely taken aback. They could not believe I wouldn't want to make money that day.

  7. Just now you’ve stepped out of a time machine. You entered at age 90 but are given this 2nd chance to do this part of life at your current age. Are you going to grind on the same things, or do something different? Meaningful?

  8. This is familiar. I work in the oil industry, where the culture is to constantly be chasing money, with a tendency toward some very toxic lifestyle inflation. We're already paid well, but few guys value their time. Overtime opportunities come up, or guys get into management roles, and there's no end to the amount of time they'll trade for money.

  9. I think people in this thread are taking Keirkegaard far to literally--he wrote in aphorisms and used irony just as Nietzsche did.

  10. I'm one of those people that this philosopher claims is distracting myself from my own pain and sure, I'm pretty miserable acting in that I dislike society and most of the people in it but I dont play games or watch movies because Im escaping life, I play them to keep me proactive mentally in my own way and to focus my mind onto something much like how workaholics do with their work and as I hear stories of retired workaholics dying shorty after retirement, I feel the same would happen to me if you unplug me from my machines at an old age.

  11. Motto of my life! I have a running joke at work that my first response to anything new is that it can't be done.

  12. Shoot, man. You don’t need a million dollars to do nothing, just look at my cousin. He’s broke and he don’t do shit.

  13. As the child of a rich person, I am accustomed to a certain lifestyle and I haven't received a penny from my parents in 17 years since I graduated from school.

  14. I was driving in my car yesterday thinking to myself why I was so much happier in college vs now. I wasn't happier in college. I just worked a full-time job, a part-time job and went to school full-time. I didn't have time for intrusive thoughts.

  15. Agreed. I think it's naive to think that more time off will automatically lead to greater happiness.

  16. Exactly what i thought. I've always been happy when i'm busy. I don't feel depressed at all. If I slow down and relax I start to. Everyones wired different, if more leisure time makes you happy relax, if keeping busy keeps you happy do that. Saying leisure time is better for everyones happyness is like saying being an extrovert is better for everyones happiness.

  17. He wouldnt say lack of busyness is pleasurable, but that it is a measure of how much you can give to your experience of inwardness

  18. I think some people find happiness in a purpose though. Incessant work can be bad but keeping yourself active and thoughtful isnt always a bad thing.

  19. Busyness to me is about staying busy as to not fall into a depression about life's most common problems. Busyness is a distraction, a way to have things to do as to keep the mind occupied. That's how I see it anyway. I stay busy generally because I don't want to be idle, thinking about nothing. I would rather be doing something or everything, in order to learn, to progress myself in this world and to make mistakes from which I will learn.

  20. Yes, if im trying to get done with my work faster so I can play later, having a cluttered desk slows me way the fuck down and makes my work day much less pleasant. Organization is a habit that one builds, its not just a thing you learn overnight, but there is no question it makes your work more efficient and is much less stressful than sifting through piles of shit to find something you need. Ive been both people, if I see myself slipping back into disorganization, it coincides with me feeling depressed, and they exacerbate each other. Life is hard enough for me being disabled, I don't want to slip back into that shit, and it worries me that there are people who actually dissuade others from being more organized.

  21. What about someone who has already answered life's big questions to their liking. This statement assumes that the person in question does not understand their purpose and path to fulfillment when in my experience, people who are busy doing proactive things have already answered those questions. It's partly the reason why they occupy themselves so much.

  22. This was my thought too. There's a difference btw meaningless work used to self-distract and meaningful work intended to make the world better.

  23. I agree with being busy is very much a class issue. However, I doubt Kirkegaard wasn’t aware of that. The way I read it is the compulsory behavior of always being distracted as a way to escape “reality” and the suffering it includes.

  24. I wanted to add to this my own story. Thanks to the pandemic, I was out of work for 8 months last year. The longrst I had been not working since I was 14 was in 2019 I took a week long vacation.

  25. Kierkegaard sounds like one of the intelligent but lazy people we have all met at some point. I am far happier when busy. While it has diminishing returns and can lead to burnout, keeping fairly busy keeps my mood far higher than being sedentary or goal-less. I spent much of my life depressed over my disability and I sat and did pleasure-seeking activities that eventually stopped bringing me any pleasure... Gaming, reading, movies, drugs, etc... I eventually got medicated, and it helped enough to lift the veil and get me to go along with a friend who wanted me to exercise. The exercises I can do are limited but I felt great afterwards.

  26. As a lazy person who loves to think and expound within my own head, I have to agree. I should be on the other side but despite my laid back nature I find an innate need to be productive. I may think consciously that I want to do nothing, but then when I find myself with nothing to do, I feel badly, I yearn for purpose. I say this as a guy who loves alone time and not being bothered too often lol Despite my conscious preference, my inner self yearns for productivity and purpose.

  27. Albert Camus mentions Søren Kierkegaard in The Myth of Sisyphus (pg 20 in my edition), and calls his "leap of faith" philosophy "philosophical suicide." But in the same book, he says that life is akin to Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the mountain. A repetition of suffering and menial labor, pushing just for the boulder to roll down the hill again.

  28. While I don't immediately believe that notoriety equals validity, there is at least potentially some reason to give credibility to a progenitor of a branch of philosophy whose ideas are still being talked about 150 years later.

  29. Maybe you're all unhappy people, and you're just the one keeping busy enough to distract from it.

  30. I extract from this philosophical exercise just this: If you use activity as medication then you have an underlying problem that you might be using activity to avoid.

  31. We need a balance of all of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s pointless distilling the point down to ‘busy vs not busy’ as it avoids the other obvious variables to do with busy-vs-not busy and making it a black and white issue. A bit like the Brexit vote.

  32. As my work as a psychiatrist I would say there has to be a balance. Having no involvement in daily meaningful activity is a strong risk factor for suicide and depression.

  33. I don't know if this will float your boats but at the cemetery where Kierkegaard is buried people take walks, go on picnics, walk their dogs, etc. essentially treating the cemetary like a park.

  34. How privileged do you have to be to be so wealthy that you can consider work an unnecessary pastime that is bad for your mental health.

  35. You missed the point. Money is necessary for survival, but working 60-70 hours a week for the four decades of adult life before retirement age is absurd. There are people speeding through life with no time to appreciate themselves or their own desires because so many societies (for instance, the US, India, China, Japan) idealize the notion of your worth as a person being determined by the status of your career and your level of income. I've met some miserable fucking doctors, lawyers, engineers etc. Not to say that you should live out of a van and be satisfied by a life that allows you to just barely survive, but there's a happy middle ground between not doing anything with your life and living for the sole purpose of your career.

  36. This is the corporate world in a nutshell: “They are defined by their busyness rather than by the things that they are busy doing” hits hard but it is true

  37. Wasn't Kierkegaard really unhappy too? I think there's a balance between the two. I like volunteering and being involved with things out of work, and I think it makes me happy compared to the times when I was just stuck in my room all day (like during the pandemic). I don't think most people are suited to thinking all day and need to keep themselves somewhat occupied.

  38. To some degree, his condemnation of being busy kind of seems like jealousy. He is unhappy and inactive, and sees busy people that don't appear unhappy. Rather than examine himself and see that maybe his idleness may be an issue, he assumes busy people are also just as unhappy as he is, but hiding it behind their activity. Maybe they are just genuinely happier?

  39. Not only do I think we can establish this as a new norm, I think we can use social pressure and scale to protect people who want to live this way from the relentless pressure of the economy. But we need help to flesh it out.

  40. He's definitely on to something, but in my case I'm (also) ADHD so I gotta do something with all this energy or I will quite literally go insane. Lol

  41. Agreed; as soon as I had enough money in the bank to pay off my loans I asked for a reduction in work hours, work 180ish days 30ish hours a week and I feel better overall.

  42. " oh boy, so, you actually learned something today? What is this, Full House? I was living in the moment all day, and it kept getting me killed by nazis. I think you have to think ahead and live in the moment." -Rick Sanchez

  43. I don't want to be busy, but I chose an academic career, because I like research. The career wants me to be really, really busy.

  44. Q: Why do I have to support my family!? Q: Why do I have to pay my mortgage? Essential bills!? Kierkegaard has a spicy A: awaiting

  45. I am inherently suspicious of people that put up their “busy lifestyle” as a shield. I’ve done this before and the actual “busyness” is just wasting time because you’re too exhausted to care about anything other than why your life sucks

  46. I suspect the difference is whether people are letting their need to be 'busy' leak over into someone else's business.

  47. We have different stages of life and sometimes being really busy feels so good. The best jobs I ever had were ones where I churned out quality work at a rate of knots and I felt very satisfied each day. Now I make more money than I did back then but I don't do much. I feel a bit flat. But not really unhappy. I have more personal hobbies now and I think about them more than what makes me money while I am at work doing almost nothing but I used to really love those busy jobs.

  48. There must be an executive training program that teaches managers to keep their employees' noses to the grindstone as a retention strategy. Overworked employees have no time to look for other opportunities, no time to step back for a wider look at their world and no time to build a business of their own.

  49. You should read schopenhauers “the wisdom of life”. He explores the value of leisure extremely thoroughly and critically there

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