Why are We So Afraid to Let Ourselves Relax?

This article could very easily turn into an existential crisis, or, at the very least, criticism of modern corporate America, but I’ll try to keep it on the topic of psychology first and foremost before I derail into philosophy. I actually planned on writing this article months ago, but ironically, the posting schedule is lining up VERY well with my real-life stress. I’ve been absolutely drowning in it lately, and the more I stress, the guiltier I feel about letting myself relax. So why am I like that?

The year is 2019, and with the chaotic advancement of data and technology, I think we’re all feeling slightly overloaded. At the age of barely twenty, I’m already feeling completely overloaded with tasks and information. I can’t imagine what it’s like to add a family, a full-time job, bills, healthcare, and a house into the mix- and I sure don’t get excited thinking about it.

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It’s kind of sad, isn’t it? We as millennials are constantly being bombarded with criticism from the older generations, who constantly remind us that we are lazy, entitled robots who don’t know what hard work is. This sentiment really pisses me off, because it’s so lacking in perspective and a sense of reality. Each generation will be vastly different from the generation before it, mine included. We are the pioneers of the social media age, and while it’s a ton of fun, the constant change in technology places a lot of stress on my shoulders. Add in the fact that just being alive is becoming more and more expensive each day, college has been proven to increase the blood pressure of young people, and a buffoon is currently running our country, and boom! You have a recipe for stress in 2019.

It’s no one’s individual fault that these are the plights of a modern college student. If anything, I think it is collectively the fault of everyone in power- the government, the education system, and corporate America. Mental health has only recently been recognized as a valid universal topic, and up until recently we’ve been living in a very “suck-it-up-and-get-the-work-done” world.

I think that type of conditioning is part of the reason we have such a hard time relaxing. We are constantly set up to always be ready for the next task in life, one after another, like an assembly line of life. We are an assembly line, and the only way to survive is to keep chugging out labor for corporate America. Sometimes a lucky one sneaks out, but the key word there is “luck”. That, and unwavering hard work and self-assurance.

Even when the work is done, we still can’t escape the thought that there is something left to do. It’s all very relevant to the theme that society teaches us to never stop working hard, if you take any time for yourself to focus on what makes you happy, or anything that’s not work-related you’re “selfish”.

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The concept of selfishness has been really interesting to me lately. I’m in the middle of reading The Satanic Bible by Anton Szandor LaVey (great book, by the way), and one of my favorite notions he discusses is the celebration of the seven deadly sins. “Satan represents, indulgence, instead of abstinence” plants the seed to this idea, barely a quarter into the book. Also, here’s a quote from page 85 that more or less sums up my point:

“Satanists are encouraged to indulge in the seven deadly sins, as they hurt no one; they were only invented by the Christian Church to ensure guilt on the part of its followers. The Christian Church knows that it is impossible for anyone to avoid committing these sins, as they are all things which we, being human, most naturally do.”

I’m not saying I hate Christians, but I do agree that guilt is instilled in us for giving into our most human desires. That could be an entire article in itself, so I’ll try to keep it solely on “sloth.” Satanism isn’t the only religion that highlights the importance of self-care; I’ve also noticed a lot of positive mental health themes in Buddhism. I’ll link one of my favorite Buddhist talks by Ajahn Brahm at the bottom: it’s very relevant to this subject, and overall, just a really fantastic video.

Since a young age, we are instilled with the thought that any time we take out for ourselves is selfish, wrong, and unimportant. Basically, if we enjoy something that’s not related to work/income, we are led to believe that it’s less important. Obviously I believe that work is an essential part of life, whether we like it or not, but why can’t work be fun? Why can’t we be a little more silly, a little looser, a little less serious? Why, even after the work is finished, do we have such a hard time letting ourselves be selfish and relax?

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I think it’s possible to have a job you love and still be successful- it just takes a lot of hard work. I’ve been thinking a lot about my future- student loan debt, bills, rent, internships, jobs, everything. And I’m also thinking about the universe- how insignificant humanity is, how our entire history, in regards to the rest of the history of time, is absolutely minuscule. We have hardly even made a dent, and the truth is, after we die, we’re not really important anymore. The only thing that matters is right now- being alive in this moment, and enjoying life to the fullest before our timer runs out and we become infinitely meaningless.

It sounds cliche, but do what makes you happy and gives you the most joy. Optimize your life with as much fun as you want, because once you realize you’re dying, it’s going to be too late.

“Relax- Everything is out of control!” By Ajahn Brahm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY6Q-OnMTEE

Coming up next: Fashion Journal: 1970-1979

Photos: https://phys.org/news/2019-02-theory-universe-thought.html




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