Idleness, Leisure, Success & Happiness

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by Hina Rajpal on Friday, January 30, 2015

Fringe, Geekery & Life Hacks

Session type

Technical level


To understand the role of leisure and idleness in improving happiness and raising productivity, particularly in the context of a developing country such as India.


“A habit of finding pleasure in thought rather than action is a safeguard against unwisdom and excessive love of power, a means of preserving serenity in misfortune and peace of mind among worries.”

80 years ago, mathematician & philosopher Bertrand Russell published a collection of essays in which he argued in favour of more idleness in the developed world. There are now several examples of countries in the developed world that have embraced Russell’s teachings and moved towards a 35 hours working week - in fact, countries such as Netherlands, Norway & Denmark have average work weeks that are less than 35 hours!

In this session, I will introduce some of the key concepts laid out in Russell’s “In Praise of Idleness” and examine them in the context of the modern world. For example, Switzerland & USA have comparable per capita GDP, but the average Swiss works 150 hours less than the average American. Most importantly, are any of Russell’s declarations relevant for a developing country such as India? What possible role can idleness have in a rapidly expanding economy such as ours?

This is a discussion in which I will share some facts and philosophies, but I will not be able to provide any easy answers. If you have any data or information on this topic, please do share that. Most importantly, share your thoughts and experiences, and keep an open mind!

If you would like to collaborate, please drop me a line and I would be happy to discuss.


None, except a curious and open mind.

Speaker bio

Professionally, I am a newbie entrepreneur and an experienced management consultant. I currently run an online platform called My Big Red Bag (MBRB) that looks at current news and popular culture from the lens of feminism. Prior to launching MBRB, I spent over 13 years helping companies transform their business strategies and improve their organization structures and processes. I also spent a considerable time of my corporate stint in nurturing and grooming talent.
Personally, I love books, people, travel and pop culture - which is why we cover these subjects extensively in my e-zine :-) I am a roadtrip junkie who plans vacations around roundtrips, whether in India or in Latin America. Reading is another passion - not just books but also newspapers, magazines, journals and even pamphlets (don’t ask). Watching tennis is a bit of addiction for me and if you want a good argument on why Roger Federer should play for another decade, I’m the man (pun intended). I am also a self-confessed idler, possibly in rebellion against my mother who allowed me to watch TV only if I promised to do something “useful” on the side.