It is a true statement that Americans do like to be productive. It's as if it's in our DNA. Well, our ancestors moved to America to gain freedom from tyranny, excessive taxation and religious persecution. As a result, Americans take pride in having the ability to make our own way. The only caveat is achieving success takes a lot of hard work. We are a nation that wants to be free of dependencies on other people and the government. We want to carve out our own paths. This is why millions of immigrants strive to and do move to America each and every year. More than any other country in the world. This is because they know they will have more freedom in America than they will anywhere else. Yet, that does come with some strings attached.
For example, the United States is the only country in the developed world that doesn't require employers to offer paid vacation time. Remarkably, one out of four Americans goes completely without paid vacation time. This means they work and do not make any income if they do decide to take a vacation. Still, even when Americans are offered vacation time, they don't take all that is available. According to a 2010 survey, the average American only takes 16 out of 18 accumulated vacation days. In 2013, Americans left 429 million paid time off days unused. In 2014, 42 percent of Americans said they did not take any vacation days. Some may take pride in this very strong work ethic, but evidence shows that becoming more effective means not working too hard. Basically, Americans should learn how to relax. Humans need to get outside for fresh air and sunshine. Also, vacations and even small breaks greatly increase efficiency.
Phyllis Korkii writes in the New York Times, “A growing body of evidence shows that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity — and that skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion.” There is another reason that Americans should take more vacations. This has to do with the fact that A) vacations make you happy and B) happiness is contagious, so it positively affects those around you. Not to mention, when you are happy, you are more likely to be more creative and collaborative. In fact, research from the Harvard Business Review supports this. So, you should work hard to improve your life, but don't forget that breaks and vacations are necessary too.