autumnsoliloquy90: (straight through the heart)
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TOEFL Vol 1 Official Practice Test #2

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

People today spend too much time on personal enjoyment rather than doing things they should do.

In this contemporary culture where the mindset of productivity over pleasure prevails, I find it difficult to agree with the assertion that people nowadays pursue hedonistic activites more than fulfilling their responsibilities. In fact, I believe in the contrary: nowadays, people spend too much time conforming to this prevailing mindset, at the expense of doing things that they enjoy. While productivity and responsibilities are undoubtedly important driving forces for economic growth and personal development as well, to neglect the necessary pursuit of happiness in our lives is detrimental to our emotional, mental and physical well-being.

The suggestion implied in the statement, that people in this generation are not as productive as they should be, is debunked by the statistics. Never before in history has the human population worldwide been as productive as today. The global world output-- that is, the total amount of productivity the world population generates annually-- amounts to three trillions of dollars, a staggeringly high amount of output that is difficult to even fathom. This is definitely thanks to the dominating culture in most countries these days, which dictates that our lives must be directed at increasing productivity as much as possible. The technological developments brought on by the recent decades, such as smartphones, faster cars, time-saving gadgets, might allow people to accomplish more tasks within a shorter time period than previously possible, and yet the free time generated by this convenience is often dedicated to more tasks and obligations, instead of actually allowing people to enjoy life, such as spending quality time with family, or simply pursuing a hobby that gives them pleasure. Therefore, it is not true that people nowadays are not being as productive as expected, nor that they allocate excessive time to pleasurable activities.

Furthermore, I would argue that there is no such thing as spending too much time on the pursuit of personal happiness. Happiness is a necessity to a human being, not a luxury. It is an intrinsic need, the end goal by itself, not a means to obtaining something else, in the way money functions when we think that financial profit would lead to comforts and ultimately, happiness. According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, material needs such as shelter, food, warmth lie on the basic rung of the pyramid, meaning these are basic necessities to a human being. However, on top of that pyramid is self-realisation and fulfillment. For many people, regardless of socioeconomic standing, that top rung might never be achieved, thus impeding their pursuit of happiness. Therefore, I think there is nothing intrinsically wrong for a person to dedicate more time to personal enjoyment. To reiterate, happiness is a basic need, not a luxury. Society might perceive activities that allow us to enjoy life as simply being hedonistic and selfish, but these activities are mandatory to the maintenance of our physical, mental and emotional health. Overworked employees who toil away with long hours of usually low productivity tend to burn out and develop mental disorders such depression and anxiety, as well as physical health problems through somatization. Hence, I disagree wholeheartedly with the hidden implication in the statement, that people could spend way too much time on personal pleasures, because in fact, people should dedicate more time to it.

Lastly, it has also been proven that spending more time on tasks and assignments do not actually increase productivity in workers. Studies have shown that frequent short breaks such as eating, watching a show, exercising, or any other distraction, instead promotes not only productivity but also creativity and overall happiness in employees. Moreover, it has been observed that happier people make for better, more efficient productive workers. For example, the implementation of the European Working Time Directive has not decreased but instead greatly improved the productivity and work-life balance of European workers. Therefore, I propose that more time should in fact be allocated to the pursuit of pleasurable activities, even in the workplace, instead of long stretches of low productivity.

In conclusion, I disagree with the statement completely, for it completely misses the important fact that personal enjoyment is sine qua non to productivity. Of course, it would be irresponsible to neglect one's tasks because of things like hobbies or other seemingly self-serving activities. But we must remember that the pursuit of these pleasurable activities is essential not only for our health and well-being, but also for the productivity of the general workforce.

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