I’m on record saying that it isn’t true we don’t have enough time for our passions (on the front page of this website, for one thing), and I stand by this statement. The reason why the headline of this article seems to contradict this, is that we fill our lives with too many things.
Simply put, we would have all the time in the world, if we weren’t so determined to fill every minute of every day with activity. It’s not our “fault”, either: We simply live in a world which seems to demand of us to be all things to everyone. And because that’s all we know, we assume it’s always been this way.
What if I told you that this is a relatively new phenomenon historically, and that it’s possible even today, to return to a saner life rhythm?
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How work used to be divided
Of course the situation varied from one country to another, but where I’m from – central Western Europe – up to about 100 years ago there were certain societal structures in place. For one thing, there was a strict separation by class.
If you were a man and part of the aristocracy, you may have had a job, perhaps as a lawyer or a businessman. Women looked after the household, but not by picking up a brush: They were responsible for directing the servants, overseeing the work, and putting together menues.
Both men and women of the upper classes pursued what we would call passions today, things like playing an instrument, painting, or crafting. In contrast, the lower classes did all the hard work in the house and garden and also brought up the gentry’s children. Of course, they also had to look after their own children and household, which means they were too busy to pursue an art or craft or any other passion. There are a few exceptions, but most of the famous composers, painters, and writers we still know today, came from the wealthier classes.
We’re both masters and servants
It was a terribly unjust system and it’s a great accomplishment that we’ve achieved a much fairer and more equal society (although there’s much work left to be done). What we’re overlooking is that these days, we expect of ourselves – and society expects of us – that we do the work of both the historical upper and lower classes.
Most people nowadays have a job which takes up a significant amount of hours every weekday. Then at home, they look after their children and do all the house- and garden work all on their own. In addition, they must keep in good physical shape and have a busy social life, whilst also pursuing any number of passions. We believe this is “normal”.
Meanwhile, a philosophy has taken hold since around the time of the Industrial Revolution, that teaches us to stay as busy as possible. We accept that working hard is a virtue and something everyone should aspire to. At the same time, while we’re encouraged to pursue our passions, it’s not socially acceptable to prioritise this or, God forbid, place more importance on it than on the aforementioned hard work.
We’re too busy because we’re exploiting ourselves
Before I catch too much flak for stating the above thoughts, please be assured that I’m aware I’m using very broad strokes to paint this picture here, and that in reality there was a lot more nuance to it. However, my main points stand. We have absorbed and accepted beyond questioning the fact that the way we live today is the way it’s supposed to be. We’re so used to being too busy that we look at everything even slightly divergent with mistrust or open ridicule.
In other words, we have fought for our freedoms politically and won so much – democracy, participation, equality (again, there’s a lot of work left to do, but compared to only a few hundred years ago, we’ve come a long way indeed) – only to enslave ourselves with our internalised expectations. We demand of ourselves to do the work that was historically done by the lower classes, as well as that which used to be reserved for the upper class, plus their pastimes and passions. And we expect to handle all this easily and be happy.
What we’ve created instead, is lives of constant exhaustion and a permanent vague feeling of not being enough. We’re simply too busy. Our self-esteem is so low that anyone who gets more done than we do in even one area of life, instantly makes us feel miserable and like a failure, and we look at them with envy and a disdain born from fear.
The inner revolution
Another thing we tend to look down upon is the need to fit in with our peers. We regard it as a weakness, when really it’s a deep human instinct and roots in our need to survive. For most of history, we have been dependent on the “herd”. These days, this dependence is mostly emotional, in that we need social contacts, but it still plays a huge part in our psychological and even physical health, so don’t discard it.
At the same time, it’s no longer fatal to disagree with the majority. In view of the circumstances I described above, I’d argue that in order to live a happy, fulfilled life, you almost have to.
I’ve made so many videos and posts about these things! The reasons why I keep repeating it is that swimming against the current of society remains difficult, no matter how long you’ve been doing it for. You need to protect your energy and sanity, and choose joy and passion over and over. That’s why I offer this content for free every week.
No longer too busy for your passions
You don’t have to do it all by yourself. For example, you don’t have to do all the house work on your own. I’m single and childless and I have a cleaner. Could I do the work myself? Heck, yes! Do I want to? No! I prefer to preserve my time and energy so I can show up for my clients as the best possible version of myself. This requires rest and downtime, just the way any professional has done it at all times historically before circa the early 20th century.
Let yourself off the hook and breathe the free air of having time and space for the things that matter. Time for yourself, your loved ones, and your passion(s). It’s nothing short of a revolution, and it’s why I chose to dedicate my life to supporting people who wish to do this. Get in touch if you’re ready for the transformation.