One of the recurring themes in my life this past month has been living authentically in a society that values productivity.
I feel compelled to note that although I’m passionate about innovation and I recognize the richness of productivity, I notice that we have a skewed view on what being productive really means.
Do we smother creativity in the name of efficiency?
My boyfriend and I were recently discussing how Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin has millions of people waiting on the edge of their seats for him to release his next book. Immediately I felt myself moving to feelings of sadness. I imagined poor Mr. Martin feeling the pressure of so many people to finish this project. I wondered, how does he remain creative? How is his thought process not stifled by this insane amount of expectation and tension from the world around him?
I view my own life in a similar manner and I’ve come to see that we have such unhealthy pressure (in a much less dramatic way than George R. R. Martin feels, I’m sure) to be productive. The worst part? We are the ones putting that unnecessary stress on ourselves.
Most of us (for one reason or another) are under the impression that because we have decided upon something at one point, we are chained to it for the rest of time. I’ve noticed this in myself and those around me in many areas of life from political views to relationships, career, likes, dislikes, diet, fashion and so on.
I’m writing this to evoke the simple notion that none of that needs to exist.
Why are we holding ourselves to a fictitious standard?
Perhaps you’re like me and at times you create a little to do list for the day. At some point during the day you no longer feel like doing some (or all) of the things on that list. Suddenly you’re feeling lazy, unmotivated and unproductive. But why? Who really cares? What’s the worst thing that will happen? Why are we made to feel like our worthiness is measured by our productivity?
I’ve come to see my entire existence as a form of creative expression. I don’t believe that creativity can be forced and I certainly believe that what we do with our time on Earth doesn’t need to be forced either. We can move freely and flow with life instead of trying to control it. Things will get done when they get done. Putting something off (or deciding not to do it) and spending time doing something we enjoy should never be seen as useless.
When we feel obliged to do things out of efficiency our worry is that we want to get them done quickly. Do I even have to expand on how taking our time, being mindful, practicing patience and gratitude instead of rushing is more beneficial?
When we decide to do something out of sheer interest, passion or creative drive – it’s evident and it cannot be compared. How much happier are we when we do something we want to do versus something we feel forced to do?
“Life is a journey, not a destination.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
What should society value above productivity?
How can we treat life as a work of art?