Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Leisure Guilt - How Productivity Shames Relaxation

Productivity- The quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services.  
         Leisure- Time spent free from the demands of work or duty,              when one can rest, enjoy hobbies or sports etc...

The concept of leisure dates back to elements in the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle (Leisure Ethics) - understanding free will and the growth of intelligence through art, music, drama, sport and play as foundations of a well-lived life. Happiness depended upon having the time for contemplation, self-development and philosophical musings - Although, those guys had strict views on how citizens spent their leisure time, leisure was nonetheless an important part of life. In this day and age, who has time for that?  If you're not productive, even when off work, you're seen as wasting time and money. Leisure is for those who spent the majority of their lives being productive and can now afford leisure activities, guilt free. Teenagers are experts in the art of relaxation, until they are told to 'grow up' and be productive by envious and tired adults. We also have to take into account that many leisure activities are now expensive, regulated and competitive in nature, so out of reach as everyday objectives to pursue. Vacations are the ultimate recreation, but you better save up money you've made from your productiveness, and eke a few weeks out of the year (if you're lucky enough to get more than a week from your employer). Many sports are now productive pursuits in that there are goals to achieve and rivals to quash, as well as costly equipment to buy. When did fun become something to have after all the work or productive play dates are done?  The work is never really done - there's always something that needs doing. And, that nonsense of contemplation and self-development? Who needs that? For many people, those ideas don't qualify as relaxing endeavours, let alone necessary elements of happiness.
"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone."  Blaise Pascal
Doing nothing is highly underrated; but, most people can't do it. The reason is that guilt pops up to say "hey, you're navel gazing, don't you have something better to do?" Better, meaning Productive. Meditation, the art of no-minding, has become yet another productive activity, where there is an end goal of generating a peaceful state of mind, so you can go on with being productive without resentment, sadness or anger - there are pills for that, anyway. The success of the pill industry is a symptom of society in general not being able to settle down and breathe.  If we could all just relax without the guilt, meditation and all its selling points wouldn't be such a 'thing'. Our minds would be free from the chattering of "what's next?" 'how well did I do?", if we could just spend our leisure moments well...

The fact is: our world is imbalanced - We have too much Yang and not enough Yin. Yang being the Masculine - the doer, the fixer, the architect, the moving force.  Yin being the Feminine - the receiver, the exposed, the breath, the softener.  Notice how all the Yang words are actions - that's because Yang energy is active.  Yin, on the other hand, is the space - not an easy concept to convey because it is the opposite of action; but it is not exactly non-action nor is it re-active. Without Yin energy, Yang takes over and crushes all the space that gives creativity, joy and inspiration to its animation. Is it any wonder why the push to be productive outweighs the pull to sit back and enjoy the ride?

Our society sees those who readily enjoy themselves, especially if they haven't 'earned' it, as unproductive members - How dare they be happy while we have to strive?  Those smiley people need to pull up their socks or bootstraps or something. I am here to tell you that leisure is just as important, if not more so than productivity.  Do not to worry about leisurely going through life - that worry stems from guilt, one of the most self-destructive feelings there is. Relax! When you enjoy your time doing nothing, you will see the amazing results that your productivity manifests when you decide to get up and do something - your productivity then becomes an extension of that joy - a perfect balance.

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