What Pleasure Has To Do With Productivity
Here’s a statement I hear pretty darn regularly, “I know I want to _______ (finish my book, start dating again, clean out the art studio, go back to school), but instead I do a million other things that I don’t really want to do and then I veg on the couch. I rebel against myself and my desires.” To that, I say, “rebel against productivity, not yourself or your desires.”
Often, but not always, what I discover is that they have been forcing themselves to be productive ALL THE TIME and are completely exhausted.
Exhausted by the constant busyness and pressure to do more, make more, be more. Angry at the cost of living, of healthcare and childcare, and then confused on top of it all because there is so much damn advice about how to be THE BEST you can be.
So much pressure to maximize everything when so many of us are having a hard time getting through the day.
I want a great life for you, for me, for everybody. I’m all for fullness, goodness, beauty, connection, justice, and saving the planet.
But we are each very small humans who are capable of only so much. When we push and judge ourselves mercilessly to do more, be more, shine more, we are going to rebel.
That would not be a big deal except we tend to rebel against the very things we desire most. You rebel against your desires.
Because to take action on our heartfelt desires requires overcoming fear and creating a bigger emotional immune system. To do that, you need gas in your tank. Your desires need fuel.
If you’ve been draining your tank on stuff you either do not care about or is simply too much for your human brain and body, you’ve got nothing to give toward your desires – not your deepest desires.
It’s time to rebel against all the noise and constant raising of expectations rather than against yourself and your desires.
Here’s a couple of thoughts on how to prioritize your desires:
Add more pleasure to your day. Create tiny Desire Retreats for thirty minutes or an hour where you do only what you truly want. Eat what you really want for lunch while you read a great book. Take dance breaks. Color or paint or visit with a friend instead of watching T.V.
Start using a human-scaled to-do list. This is a list that can actually be done in a day with a smidge of space and time left over. I’m working on a template to help you do this but the main idea is really simply: nothing goes on your list you aren’t absolutely sure you can do that day.
Throw out all the “shoulds” about your morning routine. How do you want to start your day that feels good to you? Overthrow the tyranny of the maximizing way to start your day but also the autopilot checking the news way. What would be nourishing and doable for you?
Do things that you love that have no use to the world. Do things that give you joy but that can’t be sold, given as gifts, or shared on social media. Do not try to get better at these things. Just enjoy the smell of clay or the feeling of your brain working hard to learn German. Enjoy, there’s a concept.
Of course, doing any of this may not be easy! If you have been pushing yourself, telling yourself what you should do to be a good, useful, productive human to keep the wolf from the door, trusting yourself enough to fill up fun, ease, rest, and pleasure may make you crazy.
Most of us can’t get all the rest and pleasure we need given the stresses and responsibilities in our lives, but we can always, always get a little bit more.
The issue with giving yourself more pleasure isn’t that you can’t or don’t know how or can’t find ten minutes in the day; It’s usually that you don’t trust yourself or your desires enough to fill yourself up.
You’ve internalized the messages you must stay vigilant to your own lazy, undisciplined, selfish tendencies or all hell will break loose.
That is such a lie.
When you fill-up, your natural curiosity and wonder will resurface. You will want to try stuff, do stuff, and take action on your desires – your most heartfelt desires.
You will feel a natural welling of energy and direction that is so motivating and so different than shoving yourself along. Yes, life will still stomp on you but you will have more energy to stomp back.
Your heart and mind want to engage with life, want to help you live your best life. But when bullied, judged, stressed by an unjust world, and pushed to perform endlessly, that same heart and mind sort of give you the finger.
Trust yourself enough to loosen the reins of productivity and hyper-vigilance.
Trust yourself to have a smidge more pleasure.