Monday. The day of the week that the majority of the population dreads. It signifies the end of the weekend and the start of a new working week. And this hate for Mondays is more than just a feeling. Article after article claims that there are “scientific reasons” for us to hate Mondays. Our sleep has been thrown off by the weekend, we are tired from our weekend activities, and, as social beings, we feel a need to socialise, rather than sit quietly and work. But the biggest reason for Monday’s reputation could be pinpointed to one single thing: We don’t like our jobs. This might be a hard thing to hear for some, and it might seem obvious to others. What is perhaps less apparent is that you don’t have to continue living like this. So how do we stop living for the weekend? How do we get over the Monday blues? And, most importantly, how do we live for, and appreciate, every single day?
Monday by any other name
We live for the weekend because those are the days we have the free time to rest, go out, sleep, do household chores, read, or do anything else we want to do that we don’t find the time for during the working week. We see the weekend as our “reward” for the work we did during the week. The working week is “a means to an end”, while the weekend is “our escape”, and our time to actually enjoy our lives for the money that we earned during the week.
But a day is just a day. The labels we gave to each day are social constructs. It is true that we do not have the power to change what the days of the week are called. But we do have the power over how we react to them. Simply put, it’s not Monday that is the problem. It is our thoughts about Monday. Even though the majority of jobs run on a 9-5 basis, Monday to Friday, we still have the power to create our own work-life balance. We can realise that “Monday” is simply a label, an invisible barrier that we have set for ourselves, to separate our working life from our leisure life. An artificial separation that makes us live only for certain days and not for others. An imaginary line that can change our entire mood as soon as we cross it. Once we realise this, we can appreciate Monday for what it actually is. It is a new day. It is filled with new moments. It is an opportunity for us to be present. It is another day that we have been granted to live.
The remaining 57%
While disliking Mondays, a big part of the population also celebrates Fridays. Friday means that the weekend is upon us. Friday evening means going out for drinks or a meal after work. Friday night means looking forward to a late morning on Saturday. The office culture often supports the notion that Friday is the best day of the week. There are “casual Fridays”, “work-from-home Fridays”, and Fridays when employees are allowed to finish early. And because everyone around us feels happier and less stressed, it is something that rubs off on the rest of us. Negativity spreads negativity, while positivity encourages positivity.
But what about Monday through Thursday? Monday through Thursday make up 57% of our lives. If we celebrate the end of the week, the arrival of Friday, then surely something must be wrong with Monday through Thursday? And if we only live for Saturdays and Sundays, this proportion goes up to 71%. So why are we living in a way that makes us long for the end of something? Worse still, why are we living in a way that makes us long for the end of a week – literally the end of a period of time that we are alive? In more extreme cases, we can long for a holiday and thus long for several months to pass; we can long to have children or find another reason to take extended leave from our jobs and thus long for several years to pass; and ultimately, we can long for retirement and thus long for whole decades of our lives to pass. By then, 65 years of our lives have gone by (if not more), and we have only truly lived one-third of them at best.
Life as an adventure
I often say that meditation is a journey, a personalised path that we all need to walk on, but that this journey is also the destination. The journey and the destination are not two separate constructs. The same can be said for our lives. People often talk about life as “a journey, not the destination”, and that we should appreciate every step along the way. But this way of talking about life can imply that there is, in fact, a destination at the end of this journey. Maybe the working week is the journey, and the weekend is the destination. Maybe our jobs are the journey, and that holiday we can afford as a result of working is the destination. Maybe it is the feeling of “I made it” that is the destination after a life dedicated to studies and work. But this same feeling of “I made it” can result from so many things: graduating, finding a job, getting your first pay check, earning your first million, buying your first car, buying a house, travelling abroad, getting married, having kids, getting a promotion, getting a raise, retiring, and any and all other achievements that we can think of.
The problem with this mentality is that it implies that until we have achieved our goals, we are simply working towards them, rather than living in each moment. We are not actually enjoying (or even appreciating) the journey until we can finally say that we have accomplished something. An even bigger problem is that this feeling of “I made it” may never come. First we study hard to get into a good University, then we study hard to graduate with the top grades so that we can get our dream job, then we work hard to buy a house or a car, then we continue working even harder so that we can pay for the car to drive us to work, so that we can pay for the house that we are never in because we are working, so that we can pay for that house… This cycle goes on and on. Once we achieve one of our goals, we start focusing on the next one, and so on. By the time we retire, we have spent most of our lives saving and working and saving some more so that we can at least enjoy our retirement. But we retire later and later every year to afford everything we want to afford, and by the time we actually do retire, we may be too tired to do the things we were saving for in the first place.
We only live once
So what can we do about this? This blog post is not intended to make anybody sad about the state of the world or how we live our lives. It is simply a chance for me to share my thoughts, and to potentially make somebody else aware of their own. It is easy to fall into this trap, and some would even say that there isn’t much that we can do about the working structure of our society. But it is important to increase our awareness about this issue. And to remember that we do, indeed, have control over how we want to live our lives.
If you don’t like your job, find a new job. This is probably the most straightforward solution of them all. It is hard to be excited about something that you do not enjoy. And life is too short to do something that does not make you happy. Ultimately, if you dread Mondays and celebrate Fridays, taking a deep hard look at yourself may reveal that you are simply not happy with how you are currently spending the majority of your life. Once we realise where the problem lies, we can start taking steps to changing our situation.
But there is also a subtler, yet more powerful, solution to this problem, and that is through your mindfulness and meditation practice. Our practice teaches us to stay present and live in each moment with mindfulness and awareness. It teaches us that every moment comes and goes, that Mondays and Fridays come and go, and that work weeks and weekends come and go. Most importantly it teaches us to be grateful for each and every moment, for every Monday and Friday, and for every work week and weekend.
We may not love our jobs, but if we stay present in each moment, and feel grateful for being alive, we can stop worrying about Mondays and start living with intention and purpose. Additionally, we may never achieve every goal we set for ourselves and we may never find ” the perfect job”. But if we learn to live and be grateful for every single day, whether it’s Monday or Friday, we can appreciate each moment that we get to be alive, and thus live fully through it all.