Happiness, unlike money, can’t be banked, so if you want to live a more pleasurable life stop over-playing the deferred happiness card. And there’s no better time to start than in the new year. Ten or 20 cashed-up years at the end of your life won’t even start to compensate you for a 30 to 40-year slog setting yourself up for retirement. So it’s time you started to live a little – now.
Australians are becoming increasingly obsessed with the mantra that we should work hard and be prudent today in order that we can lead a richer life tomorrow. We are forced by government regulation to lock away at least 9 per cent of our salary until we are 60 years old; we feel guilty if we don’t put enough money away to send our kids to a posh private school; and are constantly told to cut down (or cut out) the fun things, such as booze and yummy food.
More than ever we are heeding this message. The amount of time we spend at work has been creeping up over the past 20 years to a point where we have the second longest working hours in the OECD. Our life expectancy is among the highest in the world. Yet, we are becoming more anxious and unhappy by the day, with depression rates at record highs. And our lifestyle remains the envy of pretty much no other country in the world.
Ever wondered what Europeans who come to Australia really mean when they say we have no culture and are boring? In a nutshell, they’re correctly noting that we have become slaves to the notion of deferred happiness. Rather than spending our nights hanging out at the coffee shop or at the local club mingling with others, we are increasingly prone to coming home late from work and getting to bed early to prepare for the next uninspiring work day.
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