Reality is, you are living and not producing, and you are here to live, not produce.  Purpose and the path to better hides in that understanding…

"Modern Times," Charlie Chaplin

Seems that arguing for the importance of learning and growth nowadays inexorably leads to personal development, which leads to personal productivity.

After all, if you want to learn and grow, you need to manage your time right and get things done. Use every second. Live every moment. No, not just live, press as much into (or out of) it as you can.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? How much could you get done if only you didn’t waste so much time with TV, got your gym exercises done to greater effect in a tenth of the time (hello, Tim Ferriss’ “minimum effective dose”), learnt a language every one of those moments waiting in a line, stuck in a traffic jam, that just get wasted otherwise, didn’t have to spend time eating, let alone cooking?

Aren’t we all pressed for time, needing more hours in a day?

But, stop the rush.

Sure, when entire days – months and years, even – go by as if in a trance, running on an autopilot that just barely keeps one alive, but hardly feeling alive and full of energy, it’s a tragedy. Or, it may be reality, but it’s tragic, and especially if you notice it and want more.

Still, adding a rush to get more done into the crush that already grinds us down is a good recipe for disaster. Sounds like a plan to find out just how much the time to a burn-out can be shortened… Time, then, to go “Against the Insufferable Cult of Productivity“…

And that’s not all. Learning and growth should perhaps go hand-in-hand with real change towards the better. Not just getting better at playing the game which is keeping us caught up in a headlong rush towards more, without aim or destination except to more of that more, without ever considering what would be enough.

Learning all well and good, measuring progress and setting up times so as to get into habits and make the time and get the cue for training and learning all advisable – but there has to be a rhyme and reason.

Purpose defines us; but when the purpose isn’t to live better, become better, and realize more of our potential to become our better selves but only to learn and be productive so as to get more adoration, make more money, live more easily, then it’s a purpose that may come natural, but doesn’t make much sense. Well, it makes sense to someone caught up in nothing but games for money and power, but if that’s the pinnacle of purpose for someone who supposedly wants to develop further, it’s a step backwards.

One of the best illustrations of this I've seen and known for a while - but don't know the proper source of. Does anyone know?

One of the best illustrations of this I’ve seen and known for a while – but don’t know the proper source of. Does anyone know?

Higher productivity isn’t going to cut it when it’s just turning the hamster wheel faster. Turn the corner in the rat race’s maze a little faster, and you still won’t be getting anywhere. The out isn’t in staying in the maze and navigating it faster, it’s taking a step up or down to a different game. First of all, to the game of life in which doing less more mindfully makes for much better living than always trying to push more into it all.

Difficult though it may be as there’s so much of interest, so much one could possibly learn – and such an ease with which we get caught up in just one thing delivering an outside motivation like status and/or at least money and, anyways, resist the reality that our life may not be about some great purpose and influence but just, first of all, about its living – the first lesson for getting at home in life and the world as they are is that there are a few things everyone who is living has to do.

You live, you learn, we say. But first, you live, you breathe, drink, eat, move, rest, relax, run, wait, interact with others, take alone time, need to make a living – or perhaps, a life,…

So, it’s better to find the first purpose and path to better living and being in the mindful and better doing of those essential things, even as they may, paradoxically, best get set up to be habits. Eat with pleasure, care and attention, for example, for good, real food will do more for your productiveness (and pleasure), bodily and mental, as well as for your impact on the wider world, than all the time “saved” by not cooking. And understand the reality that living means eating, among other things. Realize that this, too, is learning – and either a learning that leads to alienation from life and the world, or a living-learning that leads to better understanding and greater knowledge. Perhaps even wisdom.

Then, go from there.

Pizza, Pizza