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We feel guilty when we’re not working, and we’re suspicious of anyone else who removes their nose from the grindstone for too long. Take vacations, for example. In Europe , the standard is five or six weeks of time off per year. Sound good? In France, the whole country basically shuts down for the month of August, and everyone heads to the beach or the mountains. And while the number of public holidays in the U.S. is seven; in Europe it’s ten or eleven.

The only industrialized country in the world that takes less time off from work than we do is Japan. In fact, the situation there is probably worse; although they supposedly get two weeks of paid vacation a year, most don’t take even that. The ...

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