Let’s face it: we are obsessed. And we are obsessed for a good reason.
We are constantly bombarded with messages from social media, self-help and opinion leaders, telling us what we should do. We are kicked in balls with jealousy when we see on Instagram that our friends are more seemingly more successful than we are.
And when we hear about somebody working 14 hour days, we secretly blame ourselves for working only 5. We can’t sit for 10–15 minutes straight and not think up of something else to do.
We are productivity addicts, and we need a rehab, now.
We live in the world we don’t understand
It’s true. The fast pace of technological and social change, as well as the accelerated growth of the planet’s population and the following jump in consumption created a world that is not suited for humans.
We are not made to be functioning at this pace.
The humans exist for about 200,000 years. And for 99.5% of that time, our lives went slowly. Really slowly.
The amount of information you consume in a given day is equal to what an average peasant learned in a year some 200 years ago.
No wonder panic attacks, general anxiety disorder, attention deficit disorder and other scary mental illnesses became the new normal.
More is not the answer
The agenda used to be that in order to keep up with the world we’re living in today, we’ve got to learn more. Learn all our lives. Consume more. Buy the new iPhone every year. Listen to more podcasts. Read more articles on Medium. Work more hours per day.
More, more, more, more.
But it’s clearly not working. There is always more books to read. There is always another podcast to listen to. There is always another project on the to-do list. There is just never enough time for all of it. Our tiny brains can’t fit it all in and make sense of it all.
Stephen Hawking, in his last ever published book (posthumously) said:
If you stacked the new books being published next to each other, at the present rate of production you would have to move at 90 mph just to keep up with the end of the line
Stacking more information in your brain and doing more stuff is clearly not the answer.
Then what is?
Letting go of the idea that you should be perfect. None of us are. Stopping and slowing our pace of living, because more is not the answer — it won’t lead anywhere (except for psychiatrist’s office).
- Consuming less — the iPhone 7 is just as good as iPhone X or XR or even 11;
- Creating more — art, not useless piece of junk that nobody wants to read or use, the world always needs more art;
- Reflecting more — as an alternative to reactive knee-jerk movements fueled by jealousy that somebody has more than you do. To hell with them.
If we live in the world we can’t understand and more is not the answer, then slowing down may be the only option.
Working for the sake of fulfillment and happiness, not for the points and bonuses and ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. Consuming just what you need, not more and not less. Creating more art and thinking more about our place in the world, and what we can offer.
And the best part is, we might actually solve most of the world’s problems (e.g., global warming) by slowing down.
Slow down. And everything you’re chasing will come around and catch you. — John de Paola