Personally I find the phrase ‘work-life balance’ moronic. The juxtaposition of the words ‘work’ and ‘life’ somehow implies that the former is the antithesis of the latter. This is intellectually vacuous: life by definition encompasses work (and leisure and family and study and shopping and everything else we do). But then ‘Work-Shopping-Sleeping-TV Viewing Balance’ doesn’t have the same ring about it, does it?
Moreover, there is something unbalanced about such an unhealthy obsession with ‘balance’. Where did that come from? I don’t recall any of the great philosophers fretting about balance. Happiness, fulfilment, contentment sure: but ‘balance’? We seem to have traded ancient insights into the nature of Eudaimonia and the art of graceful living for modern day psycho-babble wrapped in platitudes. A lousy deal indeed.
Worse, there seems to be an assumption on the part of all those fretting about our ‘imbalanced’ lives that we are working too hard. Yet a recent study by the ESRI showed that the Irish enjoy more leisure time than other European countries for which data is available. A new analysis by Davy Stockbrokers shows that the percentage participation of Irish women aged 35-44 in the workforce is the lowest of the original EU-15 countries. In the interest of balance, do the social partners think we should force more of them to get a job?
A silly thought of course, but that’s where you end up with this kind of nonsense. It strikes me that ‘balance’ is something you might aim to achieve over a lifetime (if, indeed, it is something worth achieving), but not over a working week. As Henry Adams famously put it (back in 1910):
Stable Equilibrium is Death.That’s the kind of balance I don’t mind postponing for another while yet.