Tag Archives: a balanced life

Spotlight- Could Living to Work Be a Good Thing?

“I decided to work to live rather than live to work.”  I bumped into a former colleague recently who explained his decision to only teach half time with those words. He wanted to be more involved in his children’s lives and pursue some creative passions.  Should one live to work or work to live?  The answer seems obvious but maybe it isn’t.

I just saw the movie Spotlight.  It tells the story of a group of dedicated reporters at the Boston Globe who were the first to break the story of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.  In a city where the church had enormous power they worked doggedly overcoming one obstacle after another, to follow leads, interview victims and confront church officials. The movie shows how their personal lives suffered because of their dedication to the job. One reporter lives alone in a dingy apartment estranged from his wife. I read about another reporter portrayed in the film who said during the time he worked on the story his children came to resent how much he was away from home and were angry about it. One reporter knew her work on the story would jeopardize her relationship with her grandmother. 

SpotlightThe Boston Globe reporters did ‘live to work’ in order to break a very important story. They no doubt saved countless children from abuse that may have continued had they not made the scandal public and forced the church to become accountable.  It was a good thing they ‘lived to work’.  Would they say the sacrifice was worth it?  

There may be times when we need to  ‘live to work’ but in order to be happy and healthy we also need to have spaces in our lives when we ‘work to live.’   It’s a delicate balance. And I realize as I write this that many people in this world have no choice but to ‘live to work’ just to survive.  Having the choice is a gift. 

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Filed under Health, Movies, Religion

Is It Good To Be Lazy?

Laziness isn’t doing nothing. Laziness is doing the wrong thing.

I once listened to a presentation by a speaker named Stephen Schmidt who pointed out that in North American society people more frequently commit the sin of overwork rather than the sin of laziness.  We live at such a hectic pace that when we finally get away from work and responsibility we simply do nothing. We sprawl on the couch or lie on a tropical beach if we can afford it, watch mindless television or just sleep.

Being lazy on Lokrum Island in Croatia

Is it all right to be lazy sometimes? Many of us have been brought up to believe it is not. The book of Proverbs in the Bible uses the image of a ‘sluggard’ as a metaphor for the lazy person and there appears to be nothing good about a sluggard.

According to Proverbs lazy people are poor (10:4) foolish, sleep too much, make excuses for not working ( 26: 13-16) don’t care for their property(24:30-31) don’t use their assets properly(12:27) end up losing their independence and power(12:24) and see only obstacles in their way rather than opportunities (15:19). Who would want to be a lazy person?  None of us really wants to turn into a sluggard. Yet we’d all admit that we are sluggards at certain times and in certain areas of our life. 

Sometimes I’m lazy about relationships, not investing the efforts I should to spend time with people I love and do things for people I care about. Sometimes I’m lazy about housework, my writing, my spiritual life.  I play free cell, watch game shows, read People magazine or surf the web instead of doing things that are more important. 

Laziness isn’t doing nothing. Laziness is doing the wrong thing. 

C.S. Lewis said,  “The laziest boy in the class is the one who works the hardest in the end.”  Could it be that one of the reasons we feel so overworked is because we’ve procrastinated? We waste valuable time watching YouTube videos and frequenting Facebook; or in my case baking muffins and cookies, cleaning up my e-mail in-box and watching re-runs of Modern Family.  Suddenly we are facing a deadline and we have to work like crazy to meet it. 

Teaching was my work for most of my life

Stephen Schmidt in his thought-provoking sermon pointed out the importance of balance in life between three things– work, rest and cruising in neutral gear.   He said that work takes energy out of us. Our careers, home chores and community commitments are work.

Reading has always been a relaxing activity for me

Rest rejuvenates us and puts energy back into us.  Activities like reading interesting books, cultivating our spiritual life, doing enjoyable things with our families and getting exercise are part of good rest.  

Having a back massage in Ubud, Bali

Being in neutral gear is important too.  We all need times when we turn our minds off by napping, listening to music, lying in a hammock or having a massage.

The trick to leading a healthy life is figuring out how to balance work, rest and cruising in neutral gear. Perhaps different people need different amounts of each, and perhaps at different points in our lives, we need different percentages of rest, work and neutral cruising. I am finding in my retirement I am struggling more with figuring out that right balance simply because I have more discretionary time at my disposal.

Laziness isn’t doing nothing. Laziness is doing the wrong thing. 

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Filed under Reflections, Religion, Retirement