In Bertrand Russell’s In Praise of Idleness, Russell explores the idea that the people of the world overwork themselves in their daily lives. He explains that there are several misconceptions when it comes to the virtues or ideals that result from overwork, and he furthers such claims by advocating for leisure in a distinguishable and reasonable way. At times throughout this passage, I was a bit confused and had trouble staying focused and convinced by Russell’s claims when he compared them to cultures, governments, and ways of thought in other areas of the world, but in the end, these comparisons ended up building upon and furthering my understanding of the author’s point.
For one, I took much interest in Russell’s point that money is the result of one’s work, yet how such money is spent can change the reasoning for why whether or not the time spent on working to earn that money should be detested or praised. At first, I was unsure of this claim, and felt that one can spend one’s own hard-earned money however one pleases, but I surprised myself and began to agree with Russell who believes investing money in something unwanted yet profitable is not actually a gain, but a loss. Spending money earned from work on something that will bring pleasure to oneself or others is the only genuine investment, so long as the money or time is not used in a foolish manner. Then came the idea that we truly do not need to work as many hours as one currently does on average to maintain a fulfilling and sustainable life. Of course, Russell shows how in some places such as Russia, and during some periods in time, such as when women began to join the workforce, being able to work long hours, or just work for that matter, had a certain desirability that many sought after. At first, I understood this way of thought, for it is even desirable to me to be able to be able to be given the chance to work and earn as much as I possibly can. As I read on, though, I began to agree with Russell that maybe people really are becoming workaholics without good reason.
Perhaps time can be put to better use helping others or having positive experiences instead of working for the sake of work. It was extremely thought-provoking that Russell suggests that, without overworking, jobs would open up, starvation in the world could decrease, and people would overall be happier with life. What is even more interesting though, is the realization from this fact that no one has to overwork or be unhappy with how they spend their money and time. They always have the option the make this change in their life, which is usually not challenging. However, whether or not one has the will power to say yes to leisure becomes the real dilemma in their work-filled life.