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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Be A Passionate Advocate For Yourself

At the root of the productivity problem in America are three mistaken beliefs:

1."Busy-ness" and "productivity" are positively correlated.

2. Misery and productivity are positively correlated.

3. Being unhappy, uncomfortable, displeased, or angry is always bad for you.

A lot of stuff got done when we all believed the first two and rejected the third.

- We built factories and railroads and buildings under unsafe conditions for little pay.

- We bore children with no medicine to kill the pain. No shelter, no vaccines, meager food.

- We got into rickety ships with no plumbing and stood there in desperation and squalor. We prayed only to be allowed a chance at greater freedom and opportunity.

For most of human history, misery was the rule and constant toiling its natural companion.

A few people seemed to escape it. So we came to believe that the blessed classes were destined by G-d for exemption.

Calvinism told us - the saved are chosen in advance. ("The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.")

All this tolerance for pain would have persisted if not for one thing: the Internet.

Suddenly (well not so suddenly but relatively) people woke up and realized that whatever they were going through, they weren't alone.

Suddenly the rights that we had demanded as part of splinter groups - us against the Other - became universal human rights. And we were not ashamed to ask for them.

We still are hung up, though, on the misery-busyness-productivity equation. Still worshiping elites. Still wondering why they got picked and not us.

At the end of the day - speaking as the human race, not individual people or groups - we have everything we need to be productive right now. Which means abundance. Which means that nobody should starve.

Ironically we can't seem to see that. We are so stuck on all the talk of scarcity.

I think it's because deep down inside we are torn between two conflicting messages.

- At the one extreme, one says that we are "good people" who are "really working hard" if we are experiencing suffering.

- The opposite one says that we're somehow "unlucky," doing something wrong, or worse yet, were born destined for a cursed life of deprivation. Bad karma!

Ironically enough the answer might be to have the same compassion on ourselves - to turn it inward - the same as we turn it to suffering people around the globe.

Our instinct may be to freeze up with anxiety, but what if we just relaxed?

If we felt entitled to lives of joy and peace we would work effortlessly to set our lives up that way.

We would see others as naturally entitled to the same rights.

And we would embrace productivity solutions that yielded maximum rewarded for minimum effort.

Have a good day everyone, and good luck!

Photo credit: Minna Blumenthal