Rest better, work better
When I live the Sabbath well, I live all seven days well.
If I rest better, I work better. For over I decade now, I practice a weekly Sabbath day. For me, this is a transformative practice that also overflows into the rest of the week with fulfilling and creative work. America is the sixth country and fourth continent I’ve lived in. It is, by far, the least healthy when it comes to work culture.
The Japanese, known for their intense work culture have a word for death from overwork: Karoshi
Look it up. It’s a thing.
Guess what? Americans work 137 more hours per year than the Japanese, 260 more than the British, and 499 more than the French. Mediterranean work cultures like Italy, Greece, and Spain are probably a category of their own.
Here’s what concerns me the most about American work culture. The most common answer to the question “How are you?” is “Busy”.
90% of us check the phone first upon waking up.
37% of us take fewer than 7 days of vacation a year.
14% of us take more than 2 weeks a year.
20% of us stay in touch with the office while on vacation.
As an international person, I wish I could say that’s madness and I won’t stand for it. Unfortunately, I’m very American when it comes to work. I love it, enjoy it, thrive in it, and usually have several projects going on simultaneously.
In the late 2000s, I stumbled upon a book called Sabbath: Ancient Practices by Dan Allender. The discovery of the treasure that is the Sabbath day has reshaped the very texture of my week, the orientation of my heart, and provided nourishment for my mind.
It’s incredibly relaxing and fulfilling, but it’s not easy. It is, paradoxically, a discipline and requires devotion. Every fiber of your western conditioning will rebel against it, starting with the classic six words that offer an easy out for anyone who simply does not want to do the work ( see what I did there?) that leads to transformation.
The six words are “It’s easy for you to say”
If you’re intrigued and wondering if a Sabbath practice is for you, read on:
You may need a Sabbath practice if you…
live a parallel life with your children
feel uncomfortable being left alone with your thoughts
laugh sarcastically at the term “passion project”
your original ideas remain just that
feel guilty when you do nothing
wake up at night worrying about money
haven’t had a date with your spouse in months
have forgotten how wonder feels like
have accepted anxiety as a constant
sometimes feel like a slave while making a decent living
desperately long for delight
Does any of this sound familiar? If so, just as I did in the late 2000s, you may have stumbled upon a treasure.
My Sabbath starts at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday. Here’s how it flows for my wife and I:
Lighting of candles
Prayers of gratitude
Unhurried enjoyment of Scriptures
Guiltless basking in Literature, Poetry, Art
Being present in the goodness of creation
Joyful time with close friends, parents, children
Favorite music and movies
Zero Business and Zero Busyness
All rest and delight
I’ve learned that when I live the Sabbath well, I live all seven days well.
You may want to give it a try.
You may want to start tomorrow.