I’m crazy busy these days doing what I consider to be a number of very fun things. The time it is taking away from my writing, however, is less than fun. As I was pondering this minor dilemma I began thinking how much of our society panders to our desire for self-gratification. We want our needs met in relationships. We want to be fulfilled in our careers. We want to be entertained and amused. We work all year to blow our money on once-in-a-lifetime vacations that we take year after year. We leave marriages because we’ve simply fallen out of love. We ask, “What’s in it for me?”
What are your thoughts?
Are we a hedonistic society that panders to the pleasurable? Do we look for the easy way out? Has duty disappeared with disco?
I’m working on a post that further elaborates on this topic and I’d sure like to know what you think. (Yes! You!)
9 thoughts on “Fun vs. Duty”
No, we are not a hedonistic society that panders to the pleasurable. Duty is overrated. The average number of hours in the work week is the longest it’s been in the US in decades. It is higher than the average work week in hours in Japan, and far higher than in Europe. We work hard. We produce a lot. We live in one of the most productive periods in human history. We run ourselves ragged, at the expense of our marriages and our relationships.
Why shouldn’t we want to be fulfilled? Why shouldn’t we want our needs met?
And yet, studies show that we are less fulfilled, having less sex, and enjoy our lives less than in the fifties. The pre-feminist, pre-information age, pre-civil rights fifties. And, no, I’m not calling for the “good old days.” All I’m saying is… we work harder than our parents did, and then we come down hard on ourselves as being the “ugly Americans.”
I’m devastated that my marriage is failing. The more I’ve looked into it, the more I’ve discovered that most people who divorce do so after much consideration… it is not an easy out for most people. If people are unhappy, I don’t think it’s because they are setting their standards for happiness to high. I think it’s because they (we) have been working to hard at cross purposes.
(Sorry. This came off as a rant, but I didn’t intend it to be. Blame it on the late hour. I’ll try to be more coherent in future comments. :))
Um. “Too high,” not “to high.”
Thanks for adding your comment. I certainly didn’t perceive it as a rant. I had no agenda in my post, nor had I formed any particular stance on the subject either way. I am glad you stepped up and so clearly and descriptively advanced your position.
I am so sorry to hear your marriage is failing. I do know that most who divorce do not take that decision lightly…ever. I didn’t either.
I do hope you’ll come back and “rant” some more. It was interesting and thought provoking for me to read.
Um, if life weren’t fun, if there weren’t pleasurable things to be experienced (in any form), what would be the point? Seriously. I think we’d all give it a pass if it were just a life of tears and frustration.
Agreed, Claire, it can’t be “just a life of tears and frustration”. I hope it didn’t appear that I was suggesting it should be. But, if “fun” is the litmus test for success, or for a rewarding life, is that a valid measure? Some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned of late have not been fun. Some of my greatest achievements (giving birth to four wonderful children) wasn’t exactly “fun” when I was dilating to 10 centimeters which took me, even on child number four, over 12 hours…but I don’t regret it. Some of my best and most worthwhile accomplishments occurred at great personal sacrifice…and there were periods that it wasn’t “fun”…but again, it was all worth it.
I don’t know. I think pleasure is one thing. I think rewarding oneself for a day well worked or a week well lived is one thing, but when fun becomes the end all be all, I’m not so sure.
That’s why I asked what others thought. Through hearing from others, like yourself, I’m hoping to clarify my own thinking on the matter.
I would have once said a resounding YES!! That was before I joined this wondrous on-line community. I have come across more people who are willing to put another person’s needs over their own. I think about people reaching out to Anissa Mayhew (sp?), Stephanie Nielson (NieNie), and many others. I am reminded of those wonderful souls that have sent me an e-mail, during their busy days, to see how I am. So, while I think the media encourages self-gratification, I have hope that this view has not taken hold.
Hedonism has been raging for centuries. Even in its strong grasp, civilizations manage to break away, remembering that pleasure is not always the best thing to seek.
Yet, in many ways we do seek the easy way out. Think about the example big financial companies have set. In making poor choices, they put themselves into a bad spot. What did they do? They begged us for relief. And we gave it to them. Now, I don’t want to argue about the pros and cons of that move. I want to emphasize that we rewarded them for poor decision making. We gave them the easy way out. I am slightly concerned about what that teaches us on a societal level. But, I cannot let that get in the way of how I raise my children. I want to teach them duty. I want them to be appropriately selfless.
Excellent, excellent topic and questions.
P.S. I am not in any way offended that you haven’t come over to my blog. I know what it’s like to be busy! I am glad that your busyness has been fun!
Nicely put, Amber!
It just isn’t such a black and white, yes or no subject is it?
I’m going to your place now.
I should be preparing my presentation (or at least reviewing it since it is already done) but I am going to procrastinate just a bit longer. 😀
Yes, we are becoming more hedonistic. However, Americans are probably, as a group, less hedonistic than many other societies. We do have a puritan work ethic and our time off from work is among the lowest in the world. For hours worked per day we rank right up there with the Japanese. So, yes, there are pockets of extreme hedonism, but for the most part I don’t think we generally are.
Ah, a topic close to my heart: hedonism. Yes, I confess to being an unrepentant hedonist. Does that mean I am not a responsible adult who contributes to society? Does it mean I lie around eating grapes all the time instead of living a productive life? Does it mean I expend no effort in substantive endeavors, do not perform or produce anything that could benefit others? No, no, and no, I protest! There is nothing wrong with indulging in pleasure, even taking pains to seek it out (for what is pleasure without pain?). It is only when that pursuit becomes the be-all and end-all of one’s existence–one’s sine qua non–one’s raison d’etre–only when one concerns him or herself with nothing beyond the pursuit and enjoyment of pleasure that it becomes something that is not healthy. Which squares nicely with my personal belief that nothing done to excess is healthy–even drinking water (too many trips to the loo). Moderation and balance, my friends, in all things — therein lies the key to a happy, healthy, worthwhile life. And take your pleasures where you can find them.