Peter Lawler asks “Are Americans Too Busy?“:
From a certain view, the most probing question Alexis de Tocqueville had to answer in Democracy in America is “Why are the Americans so restless in the midst of prosperity?” Why can’t they just stop and enjoy all their good fortune? Why are those workaholics almost running away from leisure? Why do those pursuers of happiness seem so unhappy?
Tocqueville was so worried about the “insane ardor” of the American pursuit of more and more that he went out of his way to praise the cessation of all commercial activity on Sunday. He saw Sunday as the main way the American had to tear himself free from “the small passions that agitate his life” to really think about who he is as a being with a singular destiny and a high moral purpose.