This is really a question about what an insurance premium should be, that would guarantee a person against any loss in their overall wellness that might occur during a long period of inactivity. They say that having an unstructured life tends to put a person at risk (there’s the insurance connection) for various behavioral troubles. The old saying is: “Idle hands are the Devil’s playground.”
So, how much would a rational person be willing to “pay” for the benefit of daily structure in order to avoid the risks inherent in an unstructured life?
A job with good benefits
Lets consider the case of the unemployed lifestyle. If a person (who is currently unemployed) were to be offered a paying position, then, of course, there would be many factors that would need to be considered when deciding whether or not to take the job. For example, how much does the job pay, how far is the commute and what are the benefits?
The question that we are looking at revolves around the “benefits” section of the job offer. When a job offers good benefits then a person will, understandably, be willing to accept the job at a lower rate of pay (all else being equal.) In this example, the “Value of Structure” works out to be a side benefit that comes with having a job.
So here is the question: All else being equal, how much of a pay-cut would a rational person be willing to accept just so he could obtain the side-benefit of having a structured lifestyle due to the job? (As compared to the unemployed lifestyle.)
Hindsight is 20/20
In my own case, I have gone through several long periods of low structure over the years. Looking back, I would say that those were times when I often made bad decisions.
Now lets imagine that it were somehow possible to go back, and purchase “Structure Insurance” – just to protect myself against the loss in well-being that came to me during those long periods of low structure. Its hard to put a number on it, but I am thinking that it probably would have been worth it to me (in terms of protecting my own well-being) if I had had a full-time job – no matter how low the wage was – just so I could have had the value of the structure that came with the job!
Which is pretty much like being a full-time volunteer. And that may sound like a lot of work, but as we all know, people who do that level of volunteer work generally have good life outcomes. So maybe they are on to something after all?
Get help and get active
Have you, personally, ever gone through a period in your life in which (by your own way of perceiving things), you had too much time on your hands? If so, then, from hindsight, how much of a pay cut would it have been worth to you (in terms of your overall wellness) to have had accepted a job during that period – just so that you could have had the benefit of the structure that the job would have added to your life?
Its something to think about – if you have the time.