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Modern Life: Work, Work, Work

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Both Britain and America are work obsessed countries. The most capitalistic amongst modern industrialized nations, Brits and Americans work longer and harder for less money than in places like France, Germany, Sweden and Spain. Writes Tijana Milosevic, a Serbian freelancer, on the Huff Post:

Americans still work nine full weeks (350 hours) longer than West Europeans do and paid vacation days across Western Europe are well above the US threshold. The French still have the 35 hour working week, while the hourly productivity is one of the highest in the world. On the other hand, in the US an increasing popularity of employment therapy suggests that a high-paying job still comes first, as job issues "have a huge mental health component," and therapists emphasize the importance of "toxic co-workers and the ramifications of massive layoffs."

The effects of non stop work and career stress are highly evident - many people I know are constantly frustrated with their jobs, lives, and where they think they are heading, and can rarely slow down enough to enjoy the finer parts of life (family, friends, sitting down to have a home cooked meal etc).

Tijana notes the difference between her life at home in Serbia and the change she felt when coming to the US:

In Serbia even young and busy corporate-minded career professionals do not have to mark their calendars to meet with close friends. One can always find the time for a spontaneous chat over coffee. Still, this laid back culture is now beginning to change with an increasing development of free market capitalism. I still remember how strange it felt when I first came to DC and had to schedule coffees and lunches with people weeks or even months in advance.

The costs of our high stressed lives have hidden consequences - the break down of families, psychological illness, and serious health issues. At a certain point, we really must start asking where are priorities are - financial success, or emotional success. Because it is becoming increasingly clear that the two are more often than not mutually exclusive.