I can be extremely productive, engaged, and motivated. Whether it’s closing a deal at work, having a lightening bolt of creative inspiration for this very blog, or even doing laundry, it feels good to experience the positive payoffs for exerting time and energy on something. Achieving goals literally releases a rush of dopamine and you feel buoyant, lifted, and inclined to keep doing good work.
I also have the capability of being sedentary, lazy, unmotivated and quite honestly, wasteful with my time. Sometimes this is after a night out having too much fun; sometimes it’s not. The negative payoffs include guilt, mental and physical atrophy as well as an increasing difficulty to break the pattern of inertia.
I’ve come to realize the most challenging struggle, yet the most important life pursuit is of that slippery devil, balance.
On Sunday, I spent most of the day indoors, even though it was allegedly beautiful outside. I slept, ate, listened to podcasts, watched endless Forensic Files, and played a lot of Rollercoaster Tycoon and Candy Crush on my phone. It felt necessary, but intrinsically awful. I do not endorse having this kind of day often, but I would like to argue that the perceived need to produce all the time is as unhealthy of a mindset as being a supremely lazy wastrel. Being more productive and “up”, if you will, does not make you a better person.
I’ve been on the other side as well. Rampaging at the gym, deep cleaning my apartment, multiple appointments at work, etc. Initially, it feels great to achieve, but if you are constantly feeling that you need to be engaged to the full hilt, you’re guaranteed to burn out. For example, I still struggle with being overzealous at the gym, to the point where I injure myself from overuse and lack of rest. The same goes for your brain. If I’m overbooked for an extended period of time, I implode, withdraw suddenly and get depressed.
The idea that we can’t just be and not have plans and all of this stuff to do is not really mirrored in society today. You may disagree, but look at social media. A large portion consists of, “look at all I’ve accomplished, and it’s not even 10am yet!” Granted, I am guilty of it myself. It’s hard not to get sucked in and want to share with someone else that you’re working hard and are showing up to life. If we do engage in perceived bad behavior or activities that don’t complement productivity, we feel the need to justify it. “Wine has antioxidants”. So does fruit, lady. “I worked 12 hour days all this week, so I should be able to sleep all day and order in takeout for every meal like a vampire”. Well, no. Just embrace it for what it is. You’re not perfect and sometimes you just need to not aggressively try to accomplish something. Do the opposite for a minute.
So back to balance. It seems elusive and requires constant decision, sometimes on a moment by moment basis. It’s freaking hard! Is there a barometer to know when you need a kick in the pants to get up and do stuff even if you’re hungover or just don’t want to be an active member of society? Is there a measurement to knowing that you’re being pulled in too many directions, which will kickstart an impending breakdown? I sincerely wish there was. The reality I’ve come to accept is that simply experiencing life and experimenting with what does or doesn’t work is really the best way to pursue balance. Everyone has unique limits, but we should be more empathetic to ourselves and others regardless whether they are on or off. We aren’t robots…
For the record though, I did change my sheets and only ordered delivery once on Sunday!
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