Balancing Progress with Actual Interest

It can be easy to be interested in making progress in any area of life – it can feel like our stockpile of riches is growing, and this can seem very exciting. However, there are also times when making progress can feel like a chore, instead of a joy.

This is not a post about how one might go about changing one’s feelings about progress so that it isn’t a chore, but rather how this kind of feeling can be understandable.

Here is an example, meant to illustrate what I’m talking about, and how progress can at times be boring (this is pulled from my processing):

Imagine a maker of golden statues for a rich man. The rich man comes by to see his work, and is astounded and pleased, and asserts that he will now pay even more money for even more statues. The statue-maker begins to feel like: “come on man, leave me alone. I don’t want your money – I have enough – and I already made these statues.” The rich man offers more money, too, to make minor fixes and improvements to the statues – to varnish them, to add more detail, etc. To the statue-maker, not only is it annoying to keep working on the same thing, but also to work on the statues at all. It’s something to do, sure, but in the same old, tired area. Maybe the rich man likes it – he doesn’t have to do the work. But for the statue-maker, it’s boring. Yes, the rich man sees an ever-growing collection of treasures, tailored to his every whim, but for the statue-maker, it’s yet another day of the same old tasks.

One might ask, what would the statue maker do if he had the money, and didn’t need to earn a living? Would he still make statues? You might imagine that he would rather relax. Given the choice between detail-oriented activity and relaxation, he might choose relaxation a lot more. You might think that he’d enjoy making beautiful statues, but on the other hand, he might enjoy relaxing a lot more than digging down into the work of statue-making, over and over again.

Imagine if the statues were scrapped the moment he finished, and all he was left with was the process. The work of making statues, without a product, can itself be rather taxing, compared to taking it easy, and relaxing. To the statue-maker, it’s this process that he’s concerned with, rather than the stockpile of finished products.

This example of the over-worked statue-maker and the demanding rich man serves to illustrate a situation that can happen within ourselves. On the one hand, we might want to push ourselves towards greater productivity, greater accomplishment. On the other hand, to get things done we actually have to put in the work to do it, and sometimes we’d rather not put forth effort.

Within this conflict, it feels like one of the errors we can make is in focusing too much on our goals and not enough on our real, earnest resistance to those goals. If we fight our own resistance without being open to what that resistance is trying to tell us, then we may be missing out on an opportunity to understand ourselves better, and to bring a greater sense of balance into our lives. To me, it doesn’t seem like life only needs to be about serving our own demands and reaching our goals with greater speed. Instead, it seems like relaxation, and enjoying even unproductive moments, are a part of the things in life that we can find to be important.

Anyway I just thought I’d share these thoughts. Perhaps it may help you recognize where you might be experiencing imbalance, and feel as though you’re demanding too much of yourself. That said, take care.

Related Articles:

Idleness – It’s important to note that we can end up in a situation where we feel completely unproductive, not because we’d rather not be producing or creating, but because we can’t seem to muster up the energy to even get started. This is another issue, and seems to be connected to feelings of dissatisfaction, which can be a constant drain our energy. You can read more about it in the link provided.

The Natural Self and the Intellect – This is an article about a similar conflict, here between the more natural side of ourselves, and our intellect that tries to determine what’s best for our natural self, and how that intellect can get, in a similar way, overly demanding.

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