The Beauty of Unemployment

Sep 17, 2014 by

          As my last day of work got closer and closer, I got more and more of this question: “So what are you going to do for two weeks?” Oh boy, I thought every time, I must continue to undo society’s teachings. One of the major purposes of The Happiness Experiment is to encourage people to ditch cultural expectations in favour of their own. I am always happy to do it, so here we go again: What bothers me most about this question is that it implies the general belief that work is one’s life. It’s typically asked in a what-are-you-going-to-do-with-yourself tone, and I pity everyone who has spewed it – and not in a high-and-mighty way, but in an I-remember-what-it’s-like-to-have-little-going-on-outside-of-work way. If people would be bored or wouldn’t know what to do with themselves without the jobs they complain about, it’s logical to assume that they don’t have a passion fulfilling them outside of work and other people.

          My job was not my life. In fact, my job was taking away from my life by stealing 40 hours per week from me that I could have been using toward personal growth. Now, I have those hours back and tonnes to fill them with. I’m even busier than I was while employed, and not because I have Euro prep to do. I already renewed my passport, license, and health card; booked my flight; and suspended my phone and cancelled my car insurance for the dates that I’m away before I finished working. All I have left to do to prepare for Europe is find somewhere to stay for my month in Paris (any other destinations are still TBD, so I don’t have to search for accommodations beyond that yet), set up a bank account that will allow me access to my cash while abroad (the research is done, so I just need to open it), convince the gym to suspend my membership, purchase medical insurance, and pack (no big deal, especially since I’m only taking a carry-on).

          So why am I so busy? I’m busy because I still have the passion and the social life that kept me busy while working, and now I have even more time to partake in them. I specifically ensured that I had two work-free weeks at home between last Friday’s final day at the office and September 28’s flight to Paris, and I’m grateful. Unemployment has been absolutely fabulous! Keep in mind that I quit my job without the immediate need for a new one and with the money saved to make my dream come true, but you could to do the same. If you save the money or already have it saved and you want more time to prioritize what you love, you can be happily unemployed too, and I highly recommend it. Opting for temporary unemployment with the means to sustain yourself is beautifully freeing, and here’s why:

1. You feel rested.

          Despite going to bed and waking up around the same times I did while working and continuing to go to the gym on weekday mornings, I feel like I’m getting a thousand times more sleep than I’m used to for one reason: I don’t wake up to an alarm. Naturally rising before 7 am to go to the gym and being forced to rise before 7 am by a loud buzzing noise and the expectation to be at work by 9 am are vastly different wakeup calls. The first makes starting your day a pleasure. The latter makes it an exhausting struggle. It is unbelievably satisfying for your body to get up on its own accord. With the same amount of sleep and the same workout routine, I feel much more rested simply by discontinuing use of my morning alarm.

2. You have no obligation to be anywhere you don’t want to be.

          That office or construction site or classroom or wherever you once wasted your time? Feel free to forget its existence. You aren’t required to be there anymore. You are expectation-free to do whatever you want, whenever you want. Cheers!

3. You see even more of your friends!

          I already made a lot of time for my friends while working. I don’t believe in limiting going out to the weekends. Even with a 9-to-5, there were weeks that I went out every night, so my social calendar without one is rammed: my final weekends at home were booked up before I ended work; as of now, I can only see one weeknight before Paris on which no plans are scheduled; and I officially have afternoons available for a couple lunch dates. Let me tell you, life of the (financially sound) unemployed is good.

4. You have eight extra hours per day to do what you actually enjoy doing!

          Easily the biggest advantage of unemployment is having more time to allocate to activities you love. This is why people that wonder what there is to do all day without work make me sad. They must not have something they’re personally passionate about or independently enjoy in the absence of friends and family. Quite the opposite, I am very fortunate to have a passion; and thanks to unemployment, I have more time for it. Thus, instead of spending weekdays doing unfulfilling tasks for a paycheque, I currently spend them writing for pleasure.

Happiness Tip: At least once in your life, be unemployed by choice.

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