The Crusader Newspaper Group

Isolation helps put work-a-holism in perspective Get away and reconnect with nature!

By Vernon A. Williams

The United States is the most overworked developed nation in the world. The latest statistics from the Center for American Progress examined the claim and there is no doubt about it. There is no place to compare with USA workers. A few points to digest:

  • At least 134 countries have legal limits to the amount of hours citizens are allowed to work in a week. The U.S. isn’t one of them. Here, 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work well over 40 hours per week.
  • There is no federal law requiring that employers provide sick days, and the U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world that has no legally mandated annual leave, according to the report.
  •  Workplaces in most countries provide about 20 days a year of vacation time. In France, the United Kingdom and Finland, employees get 30 days (an entire month). In the U.S., workers average only 13 days of vacation annually.

Here’s the worst part. Even when Americans get paid time off, they don’t use it all. And when they do claim vacation days, you probably won’t be shocked to know that many of them refuse to leave their work completely behind. More than half of American workers say they actually felt GUILTY about using earned vacation time.

Enough. We need a break. Too many of us try to squeeze 25 hours into a day and desperately try to add an eighth day to the week. But what makes us think that we should move forward nonstop when even from the beginning our Divine Creator appreciated the wisdom of at least a day of rest.

In the past year and a half of pandemic trauma, we should have learned that we are not in control. No matter how educated you are, how talented you deem yourself, how charismatic you might be, how famous or influential you are, no matter how good looking you are or the measure of your wealth, there’s somebody greater than you or I.

It matters less your obsession with having all of the answers, hitting all of the precise marks in life always with perfect timing, of coming up a winner in every situation, either in the vanity of your eyes or the perception of those who struggle far too hard to impress.

Don’t get me wrong. The pursuit of excellence is not only worthy but an expression of gratitude for whatever gift and promise God has for you.

This message is not about trying less. It is about perspectives. Perhaps this period of adjustment should better help us frame our perspectives, to occasionally not just measure “what” we are doing but ask “why.”

If you don’t feel humbled by the forced isolation of an entire planet, then your ego has gone off the chart. What we do has to be more than about us. Not just after we’re gone but while we are here, we will be assessed by what we have done, as Jesus spoke, “for the least of mine.”

So don’t stop striving to be the best or pursue those dreams, just take them broader. Include possibilities of others in the game plan. Lift as you rise.

That does not require losing focus or being distracted by people, places or things contrary to your dream. Determination does not necessarily have to be accompanied by arrogance. Move with the quiet confidence that comes with knowing with God, you are nothing, but with Him all things are possible.

Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself. It simply means thinking of yourself less.

Some people, and you know who they are, will be shocked and disappointed to discover after they spend their entire lives going around one mountainous challenge after another, that with only the faith of that mustard seed they had the power to simply command that the mountain move, and it would have been done. The most difficult road is not always the most rewarding. We can make it harder than it has to be.

A key aspect of this new attitude is, again, getting away from the workplace and getting outdoors, the very activity we were restricted from indulging in this time last year. Now that you have that freedom again, get out of the house more than last year.

In Northwest Indiana, enjoy the rushing waves splashing against the sands of Marquette Beach or the majestic nature of the Indiana Dunes National Park.

In Chicago, explore Navy Pier, Sox or Cubs ballparks, the vast Lake Michigan shoreline.

In Indianapolis, walk the downtown canal and White River State Park, try boating or fishing at Eagle Creek Park.

The bottom line is, get that oxygen flowing again in the out of doors.

With all the inconsistency of weather, an undeniable attri-

bute of Midwest living is the range of options within a few hours’ drive. Many folks still aren’t anxious at this point to fly any more than necessary or climb onboard anyone’s cruise ship right now.

So, in this part of the country, “STAYCATIONS” that allow  exciting travel without having to venture far from home are an exceptional option. Climb into the family or rental car or SUV and set the GPS for destinations in Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville, St. Louis or any destination in between.

And forget about guilt. Billionaire J. Paul Getty once said, “The cemetery is full of unexpendable people.” Trust and believe, the workplace can do without you for a few days.

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION  by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].

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