Wouldn’t it be nice if one could take a sabbatical in life every few years? Taking a regular break would theoretically help make life go more smoothly. However, it does not happen.

People get into a routine and rarely get a chance to take a pause in order to re-evaluate the progress of their life. With life’s unpredictable turn of events one cannot make long-term plans and expect things to go as planned. Unfortunately this is a hard lesson that takes a lifetime to learn, and it is usually too late to make adjustments once the lesson is learned in one’s mid life! Thus people need to take a warrior’s break every few years.

A daily routine may be a human’s worst enemy but it could also be a life saver. Consider senior citizens who live alone, or immigrants who reside in a new country, following a routine of daily activities such as reading the daily paper, watching a particular TV program, or taking a daily walk, would all help endure the solitude that is experienced, that is the upside. However, the downside for younger people is that they can get a false sense of content and thus may stop making an effort to get out of their shell and seek integration into their new country. Additionally younger people may lose their ambition and the motivation to better their lives. That is why a break from the routine is needed by going on holiday, attending a conference, or moving to a new neighborhood every few years.

In academia most universities give full-time faculty a paid year off every seven years of service in order to re-charge by focusing on research or serving as visiting professors at another institution, this helps them avoid being burned out and gives them a chance to keep things in perspective.

In the West it is common for university graduates to join the Peace Corps; that gives them a chance to decide what they want to do with their lives and they get to explore the world before they are christened as adults who live to work instead of working to live. In sharp contrast, in developing countries young people feel the pressure to get a job, get married and start having children as soon as they get their first university degree, with no time to reflect on the purpose of life or the optimal career or higher education choices.

Much worse, in war-torn countries such as Lebanon life becomes a sequence of hostilities and ceasefires with survival becoming the first priority, if not finding an exit strategy. Thus it is difficult to see things in perspective, since one does not get a chance to grasp the significance of events that happen randomly in order to plan accordingly.

I have come to the conclusion that Westerners’ point of view of living life to the fullest, enjoying every moment, trying everything at least once, may be more suited to the war-torn countries, which however is the habitat for people who tend to be more religious and who practice delayed gratification, by sacrificing pleasures of this world in hopes of eternal happiness in the after-life.

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