Question: The youngsters today have found variety of ways to spend their weekends. How should a youngster really spend their weekend?
Acharya Prashant: I will come straight to the point. First of all, this question should not really arise.
The very distinction between weekday and weekend portends trouble. It means that the weekend is being seen as some kind of a period of recuperation. And if the weekend happens to be, bluntly speaking, a period of recuperation, then the weekdays by implication, have been a period of oppression.
So first of all try not to be in a situation where weekends become very special to you, or even a day like Sunday becomes special to you. If you are someone who has stopped giving importance to Saturdays and Sundays, you will go far in life. And if you are someone who is always found looking forward to the next Saturday and Sunday, it means trouble.
And as I say this, I know what kind of impact these words would have on most of the audience, because this is what most of us do. I too have done this at some stage in my life. But that’s not healthy, not healthy.
Have a job, be engaged in a kind of work, that does not make it necessary for you to seek relief or relaxation, or recuperation, or rehabilitation, over the weekend.
Work is life.
Work must not be something that taxes you and drains and saps out your energy.
Work must be something that really rejuvenates you.
You must be looking forward to Monday. You must be looking forward to a Sunday only as much as you look forward to a Monday. So look forward to everything. And most of all, look forward to what you are doing right now. Otherwise, anything that you are seeking to look away from, is a point of disease in your life.
(Pointing at different objects kept on the table) I don’t want to look at one particular thing on this table, there is so much available here, on offer here. And I don’t want to look at this. And because I don’t want to look at this, I am forced to turn my neck this way. (Again pointing at different objects kept on the table). “Oh this is special,” “Ah! this is good. Right, right.”
All these are reactions.
Looking forward to something is always a reaction against something that you do not want to look at. And if there is something in your life that you do not want to look at, why is that thing first of all there in your life?
Do you get this?
Acharya Prashant: So, the vivaciousness of life, the sheer exuberance with which you welcome any particular day or moment, must have a certain uniformity – “I look forward to this, I look forward to this, I look forward to that, I look forward to that,” which means that the entire portfolio of things, subjects in my life has nothing rotten included. The portfolio, the set of things, has all elements healthy in it.
But I fully well know that this happens to be an answer more on the ideal side. So, given that most people are engaged in jobs that are boring, taxing, life-sapping, what does one do? Then use the weekends to uplift yourself. There is a difference between uplifting yourself, and recreating yourself and entertaining yourself. There is a difference between the two approaches. Let’s get that straight.
“Monday to Friday, I was harrassed and troubled, and I fully well knew that I am not at all enjoying the stuff that I am doing. So on Saturday and Sunday, I drown myself in liquor and try all kinds of entertainments, just to forget the impact the previous five days have had upon me.” That is one approach.
Questioner: That’s what people mostly do.
Acharya Prashant: That’s what people mostly do, unfortunately.
And the other approach is: “Alright, I understand that right now the circumstances are too heavy on me. And I have to somehow bear with a suboptimal job for let us say next six months, or eight months. There is some reason, I am carrying some debt or something. So the Monday to Friday schedule is going to be there for the few months.”
“What then I put my saturday and Sunday to? I use Saturday and Sunday to uplift myself. Not entertain myself, not prepare myself to again enter the same grind the coming Monday. But I will uplift myself. I will undertake a project of a kind, that really does some good to my kind. I know that it tires me down when I am in my office. But I will happily invite a little more tiredness on Saturday and Sunday, at least the tiredness of physical kind.”
“Instead of compensating for lack of sleep by remaining on the bed for ten hours, I would rather work extra hard on weekends.”
Why not volunteer at some worthy place? Why not give expression to some passion you might have had?
You see, I am not generalising, but people undergo a certain degradation when they join jobs after campus. The degradation is visible is many ways. I will give you the symptoms. One – they gain in weight. A fellow who has graduated at the age of twenty-one or twenty-two, go and see him when he is twenty-four; assuming he has been working since last three years. And you will find him at least five to ten kilograms heavier. Secondly – their intake of booze multiplies, because the money comes in.
Now all this is not an expression and symptom of elevated consciousness, or a better quality of life,simply put. I clearly shows that you were much better-off in campus. Graduation has done no good to you. And there are some good symptoms as well. Till the the time you are in campus, you at least get some time to play. If you are even in a half-decent campus, you get at least some sports facility. So sometimes you do drag yourself to the badminton court or the tennis court.
Once you are in the job, you totally stop playing something. Maybe now you can buy a fancy Gym membership, but that membership remains, as you very well know, unused. You may have spent twenty thousand for a yearly membership, but you may probably visit the Gym two days a month. That’s another symptom.
Then, the quality of discussions that you have with your peers, nosedives. It will be limited to just the people you are living with, or your colleagues in your company, or maybe a few friends online. The vibrancy in the discourse that was there in the campus, is lost.
So, how to recover from these losses? Weekend is the time. Continue to read, continue to advance in some art, some craft, music, dance, trekking, whatsoever appeals to you. Volunteer, that was the first thing I said. Find a worthy place to go to, see how you can contribute there. You are anyway earning well; assuming that you do not have too much debt on your head.
Questioner: Volunteering does not require too many funds.
Acharya Prashant: Yes, volunteering does not require too many funds in that sense. If you have to watch movies, you better watch decent movies. Booze doesn’t help, right? I am not someone who would recommend that you have to be a teetotaller. But what’s the point? All that you are getting is a beer belly. It is not helping you. And there are several other things.
You start spending on unworthy things. Till the time you were in the campus, you didn’t have too much money. Now that you have money, weekends is the time to splurge. And all kinds of stuff that you know will be of very little use to you, starts making its way into your room, and you very well know that you are not going to make use of any of it.
What else? (Asking the questioner) What do you do?
Acharya Prashant: Dancing, drinking. Some people start chasing men or women more actively. And given that now they are heavily disfigured, they get very little success.
Questioner: That has very limited utility. You go, you crib about your work, and then start again with same routine the next day.
Acharya Prashant: Part of the reason for that is, we start feeling settled, as soon as we are in a job; many of us. I am not saying really everybody, but many of us. And when you start feeling settled, and the feeling that you have arrived on the scene sets in, then there is no inner urge left for further improvement.
As long as you are facing a challenge, as long as you are upto something, you remain green within; you remain throbbing, the heart keeps beating at some rate. But the moment you get the feeling that – “Now I am settled. Now all that I need is a wife, and expressions of expenditure,” then you start decaying.
Questioner: That’s one of things that I also wanted to bring about. When you said that using your weekends for further improvement would obviously require a lot of energy, then people say that they are so drained out from the week that all they want to do an the weekend is just sleep.
Acharya Prashant: It’s a very bad cycle. Weekdays drain you out, weekends you spend in just somehow recovering from the drain. Where is then the entire week taking you? Are you progressing?
You have to somehow find your way out from this very limited and demeaning cycle. And remember, your company or employer, has no real stake in enriching your weekends. All that he wants is that you come back a little freshened up on Monday morning. So if you have totally missed up your weekends, your employer will really have no objections against it.
It’s your own personal responsibility to know fully well that your weekdays are sold out, you have sold-off five days of your week in order to earn money. Now all that you have is these two days – Saturday and Sunday. These two days are yours. So use them very wisely, very energetically.
You are still young!
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Acharya Prashant is an emerging champion of socio-spiritual awakening in the world today. An alumnus of IIT-Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad, and a former Civil Services officer, Acharya Prashant is an acclaimed Speaker, Vedanta Teacher and author of over 50 books. Apart from that he wears various hats: a veganism promoter, an environmental activist, a science activist, a campaigner against superstition, and a champion of essential human freedom. Know More