Return to American work ethic (idea)

As someone who grew up in Europe, then moved to America, I'd say the difference between European and American attitude toward work is that Europeans work to live, while Americans live to work.

This difference can be seen, among other things, in the fact that in European countries it is not uncommon to get 4-6 weeks of vacation per year, while in America you get one week, or if you are lucky two. Then again, many Americans never find the time to take the vacation.

Which attitude do I prefer? The European one. I go to work to make enough money to live, so I can do the things I want to do, not the things someone else decides I should be doing.

The situation is changing, though. You can hear such slogans as Don't work hard, work smart even in America these days.

And, of course, there is the common saying friends tell friends: Don't work too hard! By the way, I have never heard that one in Europe, probably because it would have been totally unnecessary.

Incidentally, back when I was a psychology student at Komensky University in Bratislava, they told us about some research about companies that had their employees work six days a week and companies that had their employees work five days a week. They found out both had the same amount of productivity. It would appear that the human mind simply "knows" this is how much I produce in a week. If it is given five days, it produces it in five days. If it is given six days, it produces the same amount in six days.

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