Recently, my friend mentioned to me in a text how much she loves feeling productive, and instantly, I knew there was something wrong with that statement. It sounded like something that was ingrained in us at a young age, something that society conditioned us to love as we grew up. It was something we were taught to feel proud about saying, but I knew that she meant something else. There isn’t anything wrong with feeling pleasure at completing tasks and getting things done, but I knew “productivity” was not the right word for it.
I asked her, “What is it in that feeling of productivity that we actually enjoy?” (Yes, I’m the friend who will take a harmless statement and wax poetic about the philosophy and psychology behind it—but hey! This is how you create good, meaningful conversation!)
I could think of a few theories as to what people might actually find appealing about feeling productive. It could be something negative, as in they like the distraction they get from the hustle and bustle of completing little tasks. In this case, there is a lot of something else going on here. Distracting yourself isn’t bad when done in moderation, but then I’d question whether you love feeling productive or you’re searching for release from negative feelings that you’ve bottled up. Are those feelings about to explode? Are there are better ways of releasing these stresses, like self-care or therapy?
On other hand, it could be something positive, like the feeling of accomplishment and achievement. It could be the feeling of pride in yourself for your discipline or for seeing the final product that you worked so hard on. I think that if we all find what we truly love about productivity and focus our attention on that both in our minds and our words, it would be so much better in the long run for our emotional health.
Let’s put it to practice. Instead of saying, “I love being productive,” I think we could replace that with, “I love accomplishing my goals.” Instead of saying, “I wasn’t productive at all today,” we could say, “Today was a productive rest day for me.” (If you’re resting well on a rest day, you’re technically being productive about getting your rest, no? This is me being a defense lawyer for your mental health. You’re welcome.)
You know how I feel about words, about the power in our phrases. They reveal more than we know about our subconscious thoughts and inner beliefs. It is always hard to change our subconscious thoughts and inner beliefs, but we could start from the outside in by changing our vernacular. Think of affirmations. We say them to empower ourselves, but if our daily talk is riddled in negativity or layered in traps that put feeling productive at the top of priorities, we still suffer.
So ask yourself, what is it about productivity that you enjoy? Let’s focus on the positives. For me, I enjoy feeling like I’ve accomplished things, no matter how small. Little by little, these wins build me up. Otherwise, if I grasp onto the concept of pure productivity, I find myself on the short path to burnout. There has to be something more. Search for it, find it, then thrive.
Let me know in the comments below what you believe you like about being productive and how you plan to change your language. Also let me know what other parts of your language you think need to change that you want me to talk about. I’m always happy to analyze and overanalyze language.