The Joy of Not Working

A review by Andrew Forward, of Ernie J Zelinski's book on creative loafing

A rich tourist decides to have a little fun with six panhandlers one afternoon. She offers a $1000 reward to the laziest pandhandler. The winner? The only panhandler that refrained from playing.

Not working, when you can enjoy yourself loafing, has its rewards

Ernie Zelinski has done a wonderful job creating a book that will help you enjoy life away from the workplace.

More satisfaction and pleasure away from the workplace


Most people are not ready to handle unlimited leisure time and most have difficulty effectively using spare time

Problems with Leisure Time

Success with Leisure Time

  • Boredome
  • No one to play with
  • Not enough to do
  • What should I do?
  • Guilty about taking it easy / having fun
  • Personal growth
  • Improved health
  • Greater self esteem
  • Less stress
  • Balanced life

The essentials to success leisure a healthy attitue / state of mind

Yes, excellent health is nice - but you can still manage to lead an extremely successful life with limited health. Same with living in an exciting city, traveling, being athletic, having loads of money, lots of hobbies - all can be nice to have, but none are essential.

What do you see below?

Just a black dot?

Black dot? Boring. Adults usually can only see things in one light. A child may come up with wild answers like a chcolate cookie, a black marble, a horese's eye.

To enjoy the world you must perceive more. Pay more attention.

Anything important, which takes only 5 minutes to spot, will exceed the attention span of most people by at least 4 minutes 30 seconds. Pay attention for 5 minutes at a time and you will spot more opportunities than you know what to do with.

A Bird
in the
the hand
  is worth
two in
the bush

Missed the double "the"? - Maybe you are not seeing all there is to see, what's the rush?

Now for some match stick math. Move one match stick below to make the equation correct.

Hey, why just stop after generating one or two solutions? Ernie cites that his has found over 30 valid solutions to this problem. In everyday life, if you always stop when you find your first solution then you may be missing out many more - some of which could be better, more exciting and efficient.

In life, perception is everything; what you see is what you get

Do not get stuck in your beliefs

Only the foolish and the dead do not change. Do you believe that hard work is the only way to success and happiness? What if this is flawed? Yes, you need a mental framework, points of view and values to function as a person; but,

Challenge your perception about work. You probably overvalue it, whereas you undervalue leisure. It is wrong to think that extracurricular play is not important if you enjoy your work - the world offers too much excitment, adventure and learning.

Ancient greek philosophers thought that work was vulgar

In fact, working long hours is a recent bad habbit from the factory systems of the Industrial Revolution. People now brag about how much they work, but in fact they usually work less than they estimate. A 75 hours a week person usually only works between 50 - 60 hours. To be considered successful in North America it to fail badly at living a balanced life.

Repeat after me, "It is not cool to work too much", so stop bragging about putting in your long hours

Did you know that pandhandlers contribute to a better world than SUV owners but contributing less. They use less energy, produce less waste and put fewer pollutants into the air

It is not about how hard we work, or what we own... instead life should be about

A high percentage of white-collar workers are unhappy at work, so what do they do?

The term rat-race is actually demeaning to rats, because I rat would never stay in a tunnel without cheese. Yet everyday, humans are stuck in a tunnel that presents no true opportunities for growth or happiness.

Who are you?

what sort of person would you want to be if work were totally abolished in this world?

Workaholics are addicts no different from other addicts

To promote productivity most companies and people subscribe to long, hard, fast work. Its funny that the opposite is happening with:

You must be relaxed and use your imagination to have a blockbuster of an idea

Being continually busy IS NOT to be successful. To be highly creative, experience properity, consciouness, work towards financial independence you must sit back, ponder the big picture and take the long term view; know as CREATIVE LOAFING

So, loaf everyday - even if just for 5 minutes. If you prepare you for a life of constant loafing (i.e. retirement) and it will benefit your long term health.

Hard work is the enemy of creativity


Peek Performers

  • Long hours
  • No goals, works to be active
  • Cannot delegate
  • No interests outside work
  • Misses vacations to work
  • Shallow work friendships
  • Always talks about work
  • Busy doing things
  • Feels life is difficult
  • Regular hours
  • Defined goals, works to major objective
  • Delegates as much as possible
  • Several interests
  • Misses work to vacation
  • Deep friendships outside work
  • Rarely talks about work
  • Enjoys goofing off
  • Feels life is a celebration

From a workaholics viewpoint the following are usually true

Leisureholics have more fun

Work life balance cannot be achieved until you have put work in its place. It is neither heroic nor an intelligent state. Being perfect, compulsive and obsessive are bad (and all parts of workaholics). Yes, work is part of daily living, but not as important as family, exercise, solitude and play.

Do not save up leisure until you are retired. You need to prepare yourself for leisure by cultivating your interests and increase the breadth of those interests. Leisure is not about quantity such as filling every moment of your mexican vacation - take your time, relax a little.

Fire yourself if your employer will not. What is the worst that can happen? Once you write it down, you realize that your list really is not that bad. If you cannot risk being fully alive then what can you risk?

Your true calling

What are your passions? What are yoru strengths? Who are your heroes? What do you want to discover or learn? You true calling has nothing to do with the pursuit of money; rather, it can sometimes be a welcome byproduct.

Have two cakes, and eat them two!

Be a peak performer and work fewer hours. Get ahead by slowing down and enjoying some creative loafing. Spend a lot of time relaxing.

The issue most people face is not a lack of time, but our ability

You are to blame for the lack of leisure time. Pursue your leisure habits now! To find your tunnel with lots of cheese you need to realize that the road to unhappiness is the pursuit of trivial meaningless things.

There is a lot of effort required to enter the workforce (school, volunteer, workshops, networking) but very little emphasis on leaving it. Embrace being unemployed with constructive leisure and do not fall for the lay-on-the-couch-watching-tv approach.

What is success?

Laughing often, loving much. Winning the respect of intelligent people, providing affective to children.

Miss the good old days that never were?

The further away from an event we are, the more selective our memory. In fact we tend to remember things up.

3 needs to satisfy leisure that your job CAN give you

Your work provides you with self worth, status, achievement, recognition, room for growth and power. These are important, but the essential things that work can provide are:

So, when you are practicing for your life without work, you will need to ensure that your leisure activities can tend to these three basic needs.

Losing structure can create havoc in your work, we are creatures of habit and we love routine. So, create your own, such as:

Boring is as boring does

Do you only look for one way to do something? The most conventional? Boredom is often the root of over eating, insomnia (and excessive sleep).

Traits of the boring

Do not blame anyone but yourself when life seems boring. New jobs can become boring, an exciting relationship can become dull. If you are bored, it is because you are boring.

The easy rule of life

Workaholics that are working harder longer believe they are taking the difficult / uncomfortable route, but really those people are doing easy / comfotable by choosing work as an escape from other aspects of life. Work long hours to avoid job loss, criticism, bad marriage, debt, loneliness.

Peak performers work for praise, satisfaction, self respect, challenge and fun. Work enough to live a nice life, but as little as you can get away with.

If you do boring , stupid monotonous work, chances are you will end up boring, stupid and monotonous. It's not what you become but what you do not become that will hust most in the end. Day to day life will be boring and have little meaning if your main reason for going to work is to pay for all those possessions you don't have time to use.

Friends, family, adventure, walking, meditating, creative loafing, spiritual fulfillment make life worth living. Working hard and long hours do not.

You cannot truly prosper until

You invite boredom into your life, soyou have to do something about it.

You, yes you, must be self motivated to pursue what you want, and more difficult is to know what you want. Unfocussed activities leave you without a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, happiness.

You must be motivated to think and decide what is important, you must be motivated to

Biggest problem is when we get what we want, only to find out that it was not what we really wanted.What do you really want in life? To get what you want in life, pursue your own fire as opposed to being warmed by someone else's

Taking control of your life starts with you - not employer, government, spouse, or society.


Options for my leisure

  1. Activities that turn me on now
  2. Activities that used to turn me on
  3. New Activities I have thought of doing

Additional themes that you can add a Get-A-Life-Tree.

  1. Travel
  2. Activities that will get me fit

There is so much to do, Ernie lists of 300 activities to help you get a life.

Avoid those passive activities

Passive activities do nt give you the mental highs to conquer boredom. No challenge, no purpose, less arousal, monotomy. Safe / secure, little satisfaction / self-fulfillment. There are two types of people, participants that make things happen and spectators that watch things happen.

Feel Good Happy

Such as watching hockey on TV. There are diminishing returns for happiness.

Value Based Happy

Such as writing, reading, exercising, playing. There is a sense of satisfaction from fulfilling deeper purpose. Suffers much, much less from dimishing returns.

Figure out the types of leisure activities that you are passionate about such as favourite course, city, country, resort, sport, game, exercise, song, artist, author. Incorporate those things in as many activities as possible.

Too much tv is an addiction. Easy and comfortable route (refer back to easy rule of life to see if that is good or not), especially bad when you are still working in preparation for retirement. Too much TV seems to have a correlation to being a jerk.

Don't wait too long to maintain your weight

Junking out is a passive activity. Excuses for being fat are mostly dumb. Being fat hinders your leisure. Waistlines should not automatically expand with age, no more than 10 lbs after the age of 21.

People are fat due to overeating and eating the wrong stuff. Exercise alone is not good enough

Okinawa technique

A japanese culture that is the healthiest and slimmest. Process known as Hara Hachi Hu. Stop eating once you are 80% full.

Exercise is absolutely awesome

Vigorous sustained activity is essential for physical fitness - not just leisurely bike rides (even though they can be a lot of fun, do not mistake it for your vigorous activity). There are 168 hours in a week, spend 5 doing rigorous exercise and weight training. Weights help improve balance, posture, keep muscles / bones strong.

Now - and only now - can you experience the now

In a silly survey they reported that 54 % of people think about sex while playing tennis. Your zen master would say those people are not living in the now. We either live in the "before" or "later" and rarely the "now". Most of us walk around awake, yet asleep, paying little attention to what is going on around us.

There is nothing you can ever experience except the present moment. Being in the now means accepting you can never experience past or future moments.

Mastering the moment

Enjoy now, no matter what you are doing, as much as possible.

Time is worth more than money

If you lose money, you can also get it back. You can never get time back. Fighting time is just plain silly - and a huge sign that you are fighting time is if you always seem hurried. To make a better future start living in the present. Experience books, friendships, arts, hobbies and passions.

To help achieve long term happiness you need to have perpetual short-term happy moments. Slow down, you will stop fighting time and instead learn to master it.

Ways to slow down

There are three main resources of life time, money and creativity. If creativity is your #1 resource, then the others will not be scarce. Time is happiness, not money, because we now understand that time is worth more than money.

Alone is not lonely

The painside side of being alone is loneliness, but there is also a very pleasant side, known as solitude. Alone does not mean anti-social. People are lonely because they allow themselves to get lonely (perhaps because they are bored... because they are boring).

Don't walk away from negative people - run!

Negative people think like is a rip-off, that everything can get worse and they will work to bring down all the happy people out there. It is a mistake to try and change negative people.

Try this - creativity day

Once a week, for at least 12 weeks, have a day, alone, to be creative. Choose a medium, like writing a book, painting, writing a song, doing photography, and stick with it for the entire 12 to 16 weeks. Connect with your creativity. During those 12 to 16 weeks be sure to celebrate the process not the outcome of each activity day. And, at the end of the sessions celebrate the outcome.