Productivity or Happiness - which comes first?
Problem solving our problem solving
Without a problem, there is no solution
Without getting lost, you cannot be found
Without sin, there is no redemption
Without urgency, there is no haste
Without an opponent, you cannot win a game
Without a challenge, you will not rise to beat it
Without a demon, there is nothing to slay,
Without a bug, there is nothing to crush
Without tragedy, there is no hero
Without fear, there is no courage
The things we dislike create the things we desire. The stories we retell and the figures we adore are all forged through struggle.
It is a warm reminder when things go wrong, that at least it’s more interesting than a normal day. Gratitude for the opportunity to face a problem is a refreshing way to calmly accept life.
So good needs bad?
Consider that all those positive elements above need an equal and opposite negative thing. We start to feel like all joy in life must require something bad.
This is an elementary concept that even happens in physics:
Matter requires anti-matter to exist.
A positive charge needs a negative charge.
Every force has an equal and opposite force
What goes up must go down…
The very fabric of our being seems to follow this rule.
Therefore cake will forever be bad for us and exercise will always suck.
Any form of success will require so much hard work that your soul will get sucked out of your eyeballs. If you were able to understand how difficult it would be you would burn-out just thinking about it.
If the point of life is to find happiness or whatever that means for us, it definitely only comes from achieving hard things first.
Logically we must do awfully unpleasant work to achieve blissful happiness with rainbows, unicorns and fluffy clouds.
Productivity will equal happiness?
Following this, we must be as productive as we can be so that we can achieve more and reach more happiness.
So the key to everything is productivity whilst facing our demons and doing hard shit.
Productive at work,
productive at hobbies,
productive at finding romance.
Once we are good at commanding our time we will efficiently achieve all our dreams.
Finally, we can find happiness.
I feel that the opposite is true. Today I want to challenge the concept of challenge.
Happiness will equal productivity
Yes, pressure and deadlines can inspire action and creativity. Yet, the biggest breakthroughs come from happiness.
Einstein came up with modern physics and an understanding of energy for the love of it. This knowledge was turned into bombs out of fear and pressure.
Only when I am happy do I efficiently complete tasks for the love of doing them.
When I try to do things I don’t like I procrastinate. Invisible walls appear in the oddest of places and every day is a fight against myself more than the thing I don’t want to do.
I want to practice more deep work this year and of course, eliminating distraction and planning my use of time helps. The goal, however, is to find ways to make the work the prize.
The joy of doing it should make it so irresistible that I’m not fighting demons, it’s just natural to me.
On the subject of productive dating. Only when you are happy with yourself are you attractive and able to find the sort of person you would want to date. The person you seek does not make you happy any more than your happiness attracts them to be with you.
If I’m right, why does the logic of happiness appear the other way in our mind? Happiness must always be a destination otherwise we’d relax and surely do bugger all.
Our natural intuition is total shit
For many thousands of years, it was well-understood that the world was flat.
It was also known and accepted across this flat world that if someone was sick, the best thing would be to drain some of their blood. (In fact, various Kings and even George Washington were killed by the best and brightest doctors employing this wonder cure.)
That was our natural human intuition at work. A little healthy scepticism for our intuition is worthwhile.
It is our intuition that tells us that productivity and getting our tasks done will make us happy. This was useful in a world where there were limited tasks to do and time to enjoy the results.
In a world of infinite possible tasks, it is a race against yourself to the bottom.
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Some people succeed out of fear but less than we think. More importantly, why aspire to success we don’t enjoy?
The most impressive humans in my eyes are happily obsessed.
For example, most successful athletes or musicians do the work they want to do. Those that succeed train longer and harder because they want to.
Michael Phelps genuinely loved his training. In his eyes turning up to competitions and competing was his ‘job’. Getting in the pool every day and training for 8 hours was the reward.
Anyone that does a good amount of training is not some incredible hero who is especially amazing at doing hard things.
They have found ways to enjoy the things that are hard to do and spend time doing things that make them happy.
Make it fun
We should not aspire to fight our demons but to befriend them. To enjoy their company and find ways to delight in the activities we despise.
Leaving the reward till after the work creates a battle we don’t want to fight.
Employ your creative and curious side to look at the positive sides of any challenge. To see the beauty in it and to culture excitement within you.
Perhaps one of the most important skills you can develop is the awareness to diagnose the cause of your failures and create ways to enjoy them.
Fun is the answer.
Stress is not happiness.
Only when we are happy will we be happy.
Happiness is productivity.