Contributed by Dustin L. Hadfield. Check out more of their posts from this summer here.
I love being productive. It’s not so surprising, given that general productivity is so heavily rewarded in the United States. Your general value is determined by your overall ability to produce capital; if you’re a smart or efficient worker, then generally you’ll get promoted, and paid more (this unfortunately is not often the case in the real world–but this is the general formula we perceive as structuring most US companies).
Productivity is so great, right? The more productive we are, the more we get done, and the more we’re living up to our full human potential! We live to produce. Yet here we are, as productive as ever with our smartphones and tablets and whatnot, and yet we’re some of the most obese, depressed, and addicted people in history.
One major lesson I’m learning in Serbia is that it’s okay to slow down. I have an insane work ethic, generating a drive to always be doing stuff. And I think it’s okay that my mind likes to be busy. But when I’m constantly pushing things I ‘should’ be doing on myself, it becomes this debilitating cycle of being ripped apart in every direction with responsibility and brainpower and frustration and exhaustion.
What’s that old cliché? ‘We’re human beings, not human doings.’ Clichés exist for a reason—they’re usually true. While in Serbia, I’ve had so much free time—a concept I’ve feared so much for such a large chunk of life. But now that that free time’s finally caught up with me, that’s exactly how I feel: free. Yes, I still have responsibilities to my work and to my program and to my family, but I finally feel like I’m living a life that’s not ripping me apart, or trapping me in any way. I’m finally living my life, and getting time to not do or make…but just to be.
Maybe more ‘being’ and less ‘doing’ is productive, in a way; a more calm and relaxed and less overextended self seems like a damn good product to me.
Until next time,
(Note: I’ve also published this post on my personal blog. Check it out here!)