That question is often met by someone who has just started thinking about their own personal future: What will be the most enjoyable life choice? The answer is usually the same: work harder and longer than you love.
But now some researchers in China and Russia have tried to explore the real impact in the real world by doing a “fuzzy logic” test to determine how many possible futures and events you could have in our “one life”, and whether their outcomes are as awesome as you’d expect. In the tests they set themselves to explore the possibility of working a certain number of hours a day, and see how far away those futures got.
“We didn’t want to test the limits of our intuition, so we put lots of possible futures into a computer and started working on them,” says Wang Xinxia, a researcher at Renmin University of China.
At the same time, Wang wanted to see what was likely to happen to the two research teams if they did their tests repeatedly, and saw how many future events they could predict. These were very fuzzy logic, he says, because they didn’t involve any specific outcomes. They were simply looking for patterns.
The results were quite staggering. The researchers in Russia predicted that those working for the minimum wage did no better than their colleagues who worked for high-status occupations. A similar result was found in China.
What was particularly clear to the researchers is that these possibilities could have a great effect on a life expectancy of 100 years, so they could be a reality within an hour or two of starting a week. Wang says the idea is to make us understand the limits of our brains, by making us more aware of what we can know.
The results make a big difference in our current culture, Wang says. In many countries, the idea of a few workers in a factory for 60 years is considered normal, but here everyone could actually live their lives with very little stress.
The team also found that working very little can actually improve your chances of getting an education. In fact, the more you sleep, the better your educational prospects for the rest of your life.
There is also a big difference between work we like and work we should like. The results also showed an inverse relationship in the US, where low income workers were better off working in lower income jobs than high income workers. This suggests that higher income workers need to make sure that they earn enough money so they can live a normal life.
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