How Hunter-Gatherers May Hold the Key to our Economic Future


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Do we have more leisure compared to our ancestors? Are we happier at our workplaces compared to hunter-gatherers?

The most compelling thing about this research was that it suggested that “economic problem” was not, as Keyne’s believed “the primary problem of the human race from the beginnings of time”. For where the economic problem holds that we have unlimited wants and limited means, Ju/’hoansi hunter-gatherers had few wants that were easily satisfied. It was for this reason that Marshall Sahlins, arguably the most influential American social anthropologist of the 20th century, redubbed hunter-gatherers “the original affluent society”.

Unsurprisingly, this simple idea briefly captured the popular imagination: “Imagine a society in which the work week seldom exceeds 19 hours, material wealth is considered a burden, and no one is much richer than anyone else”, gushed Time Magazine in an editorial about the Bushmen in November 1969, “The people are comfortable, peaceable, happy and secure…This Elysian community actually exists.”

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James Suzman — Evonomics

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Why Unretirement Is Working for Older Americans


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It is difficult to adjust to life post retirement. Keeping yourself occupied in ways you find meaningful helps.

Older workers are more likely to be in management, legal, and community or social service work than their younger peers, according to the Pew Research Center. They are more than twice as likely to be self-employed as midcareer workers (16 percent versus 7 percent), according to a 2013 study in The Gerontologist. This jibes with a National Bureau of Economic Research report that suggests older workers are more likely to participate in “alternative work arrangements” like consulting, freelancing, and on-call work than their younger counterparts (24 percent versus 14 percent).

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Melissa Bauman — RAND

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DOING NOTHING


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Should you feel guilty about doing nothing? Or just appreciate the beauty of it.

To a culture of productivity, unscheduled time is a cardinal sin. Idle time is discouraged because it is often collapsed with laziness. We fear that stillness indicates stagnation, as if inaction is an opportunity cost to possible joy or success. We fear silence most of all, believing it signifies emptiness, and we rush to fill it with stimulation and communication, publicly cataloging our thoughts and memories as evidence that we are alive. But there is value in unoccupied time, empty space, and silence. Doing things without a purpose gives us a chance to consider the purposes of things around us.

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Julien Baker — Oxford American

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Stephen Hawking’s advice for a fulfilling career


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“Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it.”

Last month, the American Psychological Association published an article that synthesised findings on this topic that stretch back as far as 1993. Research from Harvard professor Teresa Amabile found that “no matter the size of a goal – whether curing cancer or helping a colleague – having a sense of meaning and feeling a sense of progress can contribute to happiness in the workplace.”

But finding work with purpose can be hard for many.

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Bryan Lufkin — BBC

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How the internet is transforming death


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Have you ever got a notification or a reminder from a friend who has died? The social profiles of people who have left us are still there and they look no different than that of a friend who you have not reached out to in a long time.

A fortnight ago, a friend sent me a light-hearted reminder that it was her birthday in a few days. She does this every year.

The problem is that she died a couple of years ago, and I simply cannot bear to block her (and her digital messages) from my account. I wouldn’t want to either: her satirical messages still make me smile. Like millions of other people, her continued digital life serves as a reminder of her unique identity. Her messages from the grave are a profound example of a contemporary revolution in dying and death.

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Joanna Bourke — Prospect

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IN SOLITUDE WHAT HAPPINESS?


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Have you ever felt an inexplicable sadness because you were alone? I felt such a sadness on a weekend when I was in London away from my family during Holi, one of the biggest festivals in India.

We live in a society that admires independence but derides isolation. Yet for many old people the two go hand in hand. Back in the summer of 1960, following the death of his wife, Joy, C.S. Lewis wrote of the agony of becoming a free agent. “I’d like to meet,” he wrote to Peter Bide, the priest who had married them, “for I am – Oh God that I were not – very free now. One doesn’t realise in early life that the price of freedom is loneliness. To be happy is to be tied.” This was exactly Barry’s experience. He finds it hard to say where grief ends and loneliness begins, but together he experienced them as “a penetrating hurt that doesn’t dissipate – a mental thing that becomes physical and robs you of all motivation. I got very near to losing the will to live: despair is always knocking on the door for the lonely.”

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Maggie Fergusson — 1843

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A Personal Journey Through the Mental Map of Bharat


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Spirituality is still the core strength of India.

For the next two weeks, I travel all around, exploring every sculpture, touching pillars and stones, applying on my forehead every bit of sacred ash that is offered to me. I recite hymns that I learnt from my grandfather. But it is the sum total of the journey that I am hoping will provide the scaffolding. As Diana L Eck writes in her book, India: A Sacred Geography: ‘The mental map of India envisioned in the narratives of the sages, enlivened by the eruptions of the divine, and imprinted in the soil with the footsteps of millions of pilgrims is still a powerful and compelling force in India today.’

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Rahul Pandita — OPEN

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