I once saw a quote that said, “it’s okay if all you did today was breathe”. I keep reminding myself of this piece of wisdom whenever I feel anxious for not being “productive”. What does it mean to be productive anyway? Ahhhh, it’s the same as asking what it means to be successful. There are no definite answers but many people struggle in going beyond what society portrays as being productive or successful.
Movies show us people juggling several things at the same time. A woman cooking and looking after the baby while talking to someone on the phone. A working lady jumping at one meeting to the other, folders in hand and a cup of coffee on the other. There are meetings over breakfast because the day is too occupied that the only time to squeeze that one meeting is during breakfast. We have been conditioned to adapt to this lifestyle to feel a sense of belongingness to the “productive” group. We are made to feel that life is wasted or that we are lazy if we are not busy.
The problem with this never ending ‘busyness’ though is that it deprives us of precious time for reflection. It’s so easy to get caught up with the habits of multitasking and feeling productive but at some point, we would realize that we are getting nowhere. Many people have reached a point of identity or emotional crises after suffering from burn-out and realizing that their constant chase for productiveness has brought them no meaning, no sense of purpose, and no clear direction for the future.
As I lie in a hammock, feeling the breeze against my cheeks and listening to the chirping birds, I thank heavens for the opportunity to be still, to breathe in life and hear my soul speak. I wish I had done this more often before. I was caught up with the overly glorified busy lifestyle that I neglected time for reflection and retrospection. I learned that such ‘busyness’ had, in fact, blurred my idealism. I began to question and got skeptical about so many things, thinking they were the problems of the world, when in fact the problem was me and my lack of direction and sense of purpose. Ticking my to-do list was not the same as having a life purpose. No matter how much I’ve accomplished in a day if I don’t spend time to reflect and redirect myself towards the right path, those daily accomplishments were nothing but futile.
The shallow sense of productiveness has resulted to plenty of outputs but most of the time has never brought quality outcomes. That’s why it felt like living in circles, doing a myriad of things day by day but never reaching a milestone. We owe it to ourselves to spend time to just slow down, to just breathe. Maybe during these moments of silence, our sense of purpose will be crystallized, our direction made clearer and our daily pursuit of productiveness will no longer be barren but full of promises and meaning.