The Toxicity of Productivity

The Importance of Mindfulness

No one told me that my greatest foe would be time when I went to school. More than money, more than hope, time is the resource I never have enough of. Instead of managing my time, I feel like it controls me. My phone has to tell me what event it is next in my day because if it didn’t, I would probably triple-book myself and forget half of the commitments I make to others.

More than that, time is something that, even when I have a lot, is not enough. Even if I have an open schedule, it becomes a question of how quickly I can fill my schedule so that I am not wasting the little time I have.

Maybe it stems from my anxiety, or maybe it’s the culture we live in, but I feel this suffocating pressure to constantly move and strive for productivity at all moments of the day. I am incredibly guilty of this during the school year.

There is always something I should be doing: working, studying, seeing friends, or going to church, but the responsibilities and commitments weigh on me. That’s part of the reason I have decided it’s time for me to go back to therapy.

I don’t know if many of you can relate to this constant pressure to be moving, but I let myself get to the point where I can’t enjoy time. I can’t enjoy a good meal; I can’t simply read a book; I can’t paint anymore because I constantly think about all the other things I should be doing.

The act of a task giving me joy is not enough for me to feel good about doing it, which is so sad. I want to fall in love with being alive again. I always preach to others to live to work, work to live, but I can’t ever take my advice.

This brings me to mindfulness. When my therapist told me about mindfulness, I thought it was the stupidest thing I had ever heard. Why would I waste my precious time lying in bed breathing? I don’t have time to go for a walk. I have a to-do list a million miles long.

Slowly, I am coming to realize that my purpose on this earth is not the finish every task on my to-do list. My value doesn’t stem from how hard I can push myself before I break. Life’s little joys are found in the quiet moments.

There is beauty in art because someone spent their precious time creating something that serves no purpose but to remind us that something can just be beautiful and that life is a lovely thing.

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but taking a break is okay. Stop and take a breath, friend. Listen to some lofi pop and lay in bed! Finger paint like you used to in preschool. Go out and find life’s little joys.

Part of the reason I love studio Ghibli films, specifically those written by Hayao Miyazaki, is because many of the core messaging is just about being in love with the world around you. Take a Sunday to bake some bread, and do whatever will sprinkle a little joy in your day. Just live in the moment, guys!

Your purpose on this earth is not to kill yourself working for a company that would have your job posted before your obituary.

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