Existential Psychology

Real Productivity Versus Frenetic Activity

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Real productivity has a doppelganger that fools a lot of people, the activity of the frenetic variety where consciously the intention is to ‘get things done’ but unconsciously the real motivation is to ‘keep moving’.

One of the reasons that Thich Nhat Hanh is a great role model is that his life serves as proof that you don’t have to sacrifice your productive work when you seek calm and ease. Hanh has been prodigiously productive in terms of quality of thought and quantity of projects. He has published over 85 major works plus thousands of poems and has been an active voice for world peace since the war in Vietnam, all while living a life of tranquility where mindfulness takes precedence over all else.

A person who has decided to become productive in the sense of developing his human potentialities knows that self-care is an essential ingredient to avoid burnout and that calm and ease are essential ingredients in making sure the psychic batteries stay charged so that output can be maximized when times of productivity come around. Simply being in the moment without actually doing anything is sought after not actively avoided.

The journey of human self-actualization is a marathon not a sprint. When you think from a deeper level and consider your productive work as just one element under the larger umbrella of activating your human potentialities then this work takes on a different quality. It becomes an expression of who you are becoming.

The secret to prodigious productivity is not making it your primary goal, instead realizing that it is simply the outer manifestation of having activated the deeper inner yearning to grow. Look at the flower blooming in the picture at the top of this article. On the surface it doesn’t look like it’s doing much, but of course it is and has been quite active. Its outer beauty is the manifestation of its effortless inner growth. If you take on the attitude of the flower and align your work with who you are becoming then this work will naturally flow out of you.