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Millennials Choose Work as Their Religion

A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found a massive shift in American values:

Two decades ago, Americans of various ages overwhelmingly said that patriotism, hard work, belief in God, and having children were the values most important to them. “Hard work” remains strong, but the other three values have dropped dramatically.

Among American teens:

95% say that finding a job or career they enjoy would be extremely or very important to them as an adult. 81% said that about “helping others in need.” 50% said “having a lot of money” would be important. 39% thought having children would be important.

For their part, many millennials are buying into the “work 80 hours a week for us because we’re changing the world” rhetoric popularized by Silicon Valley. But even those skeptical of it are working their tails off. As Anne Helen Petersen put it in a popular Buzzfeed article earlier this year: “We put up with companies treating us poorly because we don’t see another option. We don’t quit. We internalize that we’re not striving hard enough. And we get a second gig.”

An Atlantic article states, “The best-educated and highest-earning Americans, who can have whatever they want, have chosen the office for the same reason that devout Christians attend church on Sundays: It’s where they feel most themselves.”

But our desks were never meant to be our altars. This mismatch between expectations and reality is a recipe for severe disappointment, if not outright misery, and it might explain why rates of depression and anxiety in the US are “substantially higher” than they were in the 1980s.

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