We as Americans are more overworked than any other country in the world. That’s what studies tell us. However, I have to wonder how this is possible when all iPhone’s are made in Chinese factories by the modern-day equivalent of slave labor. Do we really have a bigger demographic working under worse conditions? To be more blunt – there are nets installed in these Chinese factories to prevent people from jumping to their death. You simply don’t hear about work conditions like this in the United States. These statistics are perplexing.

We have a more strict work ethic than China – and the entire world. Of course, these blanket statements don’t include the countries of the world that are not developed.

A recent article entitled The U.S. is the Most Overworked Developed Nation in the World – When do we Draw the Line? outlines many facts about why we are so drained here by our jobs. Plenty of reasons are named, and interesting factors are pointed out such as the ruthlessness of American corporations, and the lack of parental paid leave as a right. Here’s another statistic that shows how far our obsession with innovation and productivity has taken us;

“In 1960, only 20 percent of mothers worked. Today, 70 percent of American children live in households where all adults are employed.”

– Center for American Progress

Overall though, at least in my mind – this all stems from the competitive nature that made America the hub of hungry individuals in the first place. It’s in our DNA to work hard and aim to reach the highest goal of our society, inventing or creating wealth based on individual success and hard work. This is the American Dream. You can read ad nauseam or spend weeks watching YouTube videos on why and how people disagree with this, but that is beside the point. Everyone can agree that this is the overarching perception based on the last 300 years; Americans are hard-working.

However, we need to learn to unplug and be aware of our surroundings. To be mindful, to be present and in a constant state of being, free from judgement. We’re learning this is an effective way to recharge our batteries throughout our days.

Sorry, I don't know who created this image! (but it is quite hilarious)

There is the obvious and straightforward approach, and then there is the approach meant for the majority of corporate workers glued to their phones to begin with. The Headspace meditation app guides you through this relaxation process on your commute to the office, or during your lunch break. It is a guided, training-wheels approach for most of us who just aren’t confident in the relaxation thing. It’s simply not easy to just switch your inner voice off, on your own, on demand.

This approach, in contrast with the last decade’s approach (mind-numbing pills) is a much more sound practice. If it can be reached naturally, with the least amount of side-effects, it is a better option. The previous American favorite will only result in prolonged exposure to pent-up anxiety, and an inevitable break-down.

Exercise and being aware is the kick that the professional world is finally getting in on, and CEOs are realizing that they will have an overall better workforce if everyone follows these principles. Our productivity and competitive-obsessed culture is now realizing the benefit of a sound mind. Join the counter-culture of those who are not switching on the TV when they get home, but instead spending 15 minutes alone in a comfortable position, reflecting without judgement and naturally releasing all of the thoughts and energies from their day.

Because after all… (insert cigarette / unhealthy gif here to contrast entire post)…

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