You’re very … industrious. This was how I was hesitantly described by someone when I was living and working in Sweden. It was not meant as a compliment. Because, as I discovered over time, although Swedes work hard and with dedication, they do not think their jobs define them. I gradually noticed that people tended to have a healthy work-life balance, and a sense of themselves that was broader than whatever it was they did to make money. When I moved to Sweden from Chicago in 2001, I threw myself into building a life, including some semblance of a career. I taught myself Swedish, took language courses and taught English at a variety of schools and companies. I wrote articles for several publications, did freelance copy editing and, when my Swedish was good enough, I began translating, too. I was working long hours, seven days a week, with little time for much else. So I felt insulted by the man who sneered at my industriousness. But then I began looking around me more and seeing wha...

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