When was the last time a piece of advice or a tip or a trick was not thrown at you by people and the internet in general on how to be ‘Productive’ and ‘Happy’? It is happening to me everyday now. Every…day!
Till some time back I was fairly happy and reasonably productive. Or so I thought. I got up on most mornings feeling fairly excited looking forward to my morning rituals followed by my chai laden with ginger and pepper. If either of those did not happen, I would feel very upset. I would whine and my wife would gently nudge.
“Look outside at all the paarijaatams. They are so beautiful. Take that in. Slow down”
I would then open the windows and take a deep breath of the morning breeze laced with the fragrance of all the fallen paarijaatams. We would then sit near the window, chatting about this and that for about 30–40 minutes before we started our daily grind. We both looked forward to this morning chat. We would talk about all sorts of things. Politics, cinema, her dance, my work, dreams that we remembered from last night. There was no agenda or rules for this morning talk. We just let it flow. Some days are so interesting that we do not realize that we are getting late for work.
Some days we would get up with a heavy head and heavier heart from previous days fight and not talk to each other in the morning. I would wait in bed till my wife left and I would have my tea alone. Or the other way around depending on our schedules. I don’t like those days when I am fighting with my best friend. They are the worst.
At work, I have similar days. Really good ones and really bad ones. Like a spectrum. I realized that everybody else around us can sense what we are feeling. They know when we are happy and when we are tired of the place, mainly its people and when we start putting in more bad days than good days.
This happens with my wife too at her studio as well. She says it’s more obvious as it is a body practice and it is clearly visible on people’s movements. I worked in a place that had an identity crisis (Are we a product company, service company or a consultancy?) and my wife is a performing artist. But we have very similar stories of our workplace joys and pain except that I was paid in a regular frequency and new releases happened every two to three weeks. My pays and highs and lows are big chunks that she receives five or six times a year with no regular frequency. Her highs and lows are more intense depending on how her shows performed that night or more importantly what she thought of her own performance in those shows.
Overall, my experience tells me that if we could measure highs and lows of our life, they eventually even out despite the frequency.
So, if you are going to be super productive for 5 years, you will be shit for 5 years, either at one stretch or spread across multiple years. Similarly if you have a truckload of unhappy moments, there is another truckload of happiness, that you have already experienced or is in store for you.
Yes. Everything eventually cancels out.
So here is the thing. Stop trying to be happy and productive.
Seriously Stop. Yes. Stop. Now. It is safe.
Here are two better ideas to keep your mind busy — Dharma and Karma.
Dharma has many meanings, but I choose one: Duty.
Dharma is my social compass. They are the rules for the social roles that I play. My duty as a son. My duty as a husband. My duty as a brother. My duty as a designer. My duty as a writer. My duty as a citizen. My duty as a wanderer.
The world expects something from the person playing that role to maintain the equilibrium. And it is my duty to play it well. Without doubts. Without greed. Without being lazy. If you have a duty, stop whining about it. Stop arguing with it. You can leave it if you want to, but if you can’t, just do it already.
If you hate it so much, choose some other duty. If you can’t, accept it gracefully and be truthful to the task at hand. And try to be nice about it, if you can.
It is better to perform ones own duty and fail, than to perform someone else’s duty really well.
Karma is my personal soup. My shit. It is my tree in the forest that fell when no one was around. As I sow, so I reap. Its my personal equilibrium. I cause a small pain. A small pain returns to me. I give great joy. Great joy comes to me. For every great joy that I experience a great pain is in store for me. In equal measures. There is no multiplication factor involved in it. None whatsoever. It just evens out. So if I am undergoing pain, it means that I am cancelling out a great joy that I have already experienced or I am building credit for a great joy to come.
Simple as that.
Body and mind seeks balance. No matter how hard I try, my bodymind (or mindbody, whatever suits you) will find a way of cancelling it out.
That is why I have been struggling to keep up with my productivity and happiness for some time now. Too many people telling me that I need to be more productive and more happy and my bodymind telling me that I do not.
I do feel that I need to be more productive or happy. Also, it doesn’t matter as it will cancel out in the end. I feel fine as I am.
I would rather spend that time to understand the complexities of my own understanding or just simply stare outside the window at all the paarijatams that have fallen last night or read Swami and Friends again or hold my wife’s hands or be silly and clown around the house.
It all balances out. The more time I waste, the more productive I will get. The more sad I get, the happier I will become.
I may not get what I desire, but I will never escape what I deserve.
So instead of tips and tricks for happiness and productivity, I would rather try and make myself more deserving of the things I wish for.
That’s my tip to be more productive and happy. The top 10 ‘successful’ people follow this. If you don’t believe me, go find out for yourselves while I look forward to my Sunday afternoon nap.
Go on now. Its your turn to do something. Or not.