Self-Worth in the Quiet Non-Productivity

We have been programmed into believing our self-worth is in what we contribute to society’s production of goods and wealth.  Our paychecks, assets, education levels, and busyness determining how important and valuable we are.   We support this by judging anything that does NOT contribute in a tangible way as lazy, self-indulgent, slacking, or immature.  We have an entire arsenal of catchy phrases that we fire off with wry humor to hide our wounding core beliefs’ in their words.

  • Time is money.
  • Work Hard. Play Hard.
  • Nothing worth having comes easy.
  • The harder you work the luckier you get.
  • Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

We even go so far as to post images of “inspirational quotes” such as :

“Every time you stay out late; every time you sleep in; every time you miss a workout; every time you don’t give 100%

– You make it that much easier for me to beat you.”
– Unknown

work like there is someone working twenty-four hours a say to take it away from you. My life is just like Rihanna's new song. Work work work and the rest of it I can't really understand. All progress takes place outside the comfort zone work until your idols become your rivals.

We have accepted the belief that rest and relaxation only come at the end as a reward.  Retirement,  Friday, or 5 o’clock all are watched with an eye of desperation as the golden ring of validation.  Yet when those moments finally come we are so drained and shamed that we struggle to be able to sit and do nothing.  All the motivational clips still ringing in our ears that, no matter how hard we have worked, to stop is to be lazy.

Test this out.

Try sitting on a patch of ground for 20 minutes.  Just sit there.  Don’t do anything.  Don’t mentally make a to-do list.  Don’t map out where you want to improve your yard.  Don’t preplan phone conversations you want to make as soon as this damn 20 minutes are up.  Just sit.  Breathe.  See how long it takes before you start to experience feelings of restlessness.  ( Now that I have said that let’s add to the Don’t – Don’t count down the minutes just to prove me wrong!  That is a doing!)  I am at the point in my life where I can do about 5 minutes.  I accept that I am a work in progress.

During that time be alert to what feelings come up.  I know I struggle with my inner saboteur trying to jab me with old scripts like:

  • What will the neighbours think?
  • You look foolish…
  • You haven’t done anything to earn this…
  • There is so much you have to get done…
  • You are wasting time…

Numbing isn’t Not-Doing

I find it far easier to watch 3 episodes on Netflix ( notice I struggle with even writing down how much time that is?!) than I do sitting in the Not Doing for even 10 minutes.   That is because we have surrounded ourselves with tools to distract ourselves from those feelings we don’t want to face.   We turn ourselves off with numbing activities often taken to an extreme.  The trap here often is that when something comes up we want to do (sitting on the floor playing with the kids, grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend, or taking a drive to nowhere particular ) we say ” I don’t have time…”.

The tools are not the villains though.  Netflix, gaming systems, phone apps, Pinterest, and even lawn maintenance are all just what they are.  Like a hammer, it is not at fault for breaking the window it hit.  The wielder that has picked it up and now sees everything as a nail is.  These are great forms of entertainment when used with intent.  When mindlessly picked up they can hold the same effect as the tinkling of ice in a glass of whiskey.  They can enable us to intentionally connect and play or unconsciously check out of our stresses and turn off – usually the latter.

Multi-Tasking is a Deadly Myth

Coming out of the eighties was this very toxic new thought that multi-tasking was a skill that put you ahead of your work peers.  The person that could do 5 things at once was of more value than someone who needed to see one thing completed before taking on something new. It is a relief to hear the scientists disproving this.


Much recent neuroscience research tells us that the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought (hoped) it might. In fact, we just switch tasks quickly. Each time we move from hearing music to writing a text or talking to someone, there is a stop/start process that goes on in the brain.

That start/stop/start process is rough on us: rather than saving time, it costs time (even very small micro seconds), it’s less efficient, we make more mistakes, and over time it can be energy sapping.

– Psychology Today

Killers of Creative Being

All of the above battles are killers of not just joy but our very ability to freely create.  Yes, we can produce, power through, provide, and manufacture but those can be more focused on bringing home a paycheck or maintaining security/status than truly creating.  Creativity has become a buzzword added to the resume of worth but only if it translates into financial values.  The artist that never amasses the gallery prestige is considered “The Starving Artist” and is looked down on as not truly contributing to society.  The measure of success being weighed when you first hear of them through the question ” have you sold any pieces?”.   Good heavens, we even went so far as to describe our creativity as a Talent:

The talent (Latintalentum, from Ancient Greekτάλαντονtalanton ‘scale, balance, sum’) was one of several ancient units of mass, a commercial weight, as well as corresponding units of value equivalent to these masses of a precious metal.
– Wikipedia

What would happen if we took the end product out of the equation?


If you knew that everything you make will be gone at the end of the day and not impact your security or financial ranking what would you make?  How would you spend your time?

We hear more and more stories of 6 figure CEOs who suddenly quit their jobs and ‘go rogue’.  They open a surf shop, take up baking, or throw on a backpack and go looking for something.  These individuals have almost become urban legends.  We look to them with a mix of disbelief and awe.  We dismiss these actions as a luxury to those that have already accrued the wealth but that just excuses us from the message behind what these brave souls did.  If we all look at the truth of finance it is that the more you make the more expenses you have. It goes along with the game of value in values. Don’t be distracted from the leap of society-defying faith these individuals take.

Could you sit in your quiet Non-Productivity with self-worth?

Could you set aside all the criticism, self-judgment, peer pressure, and social expectations to follow your truth?  Walk away from the Jones’ Game and breathe into what you are?  Not what you produce.  Not what your potential is.  The inherent value of being.

Stone hearts

Could you silence the noise of the Society’s Expectations and create a new path for yourself? Open yourself to the whispers of life’s creative flow without converting it into a marketable commodity? Could you trust in a place of being that not only provides but does so with ease and abundance?

I am not there yet. The whispers of this lifestyle are there but my fear keeps me from taking both hands off the ‘oh shit’ handle and trusting completely.  Busyness is not an indicator of how valuable I am and I am growing into the loving acceptance of my awesomeness.   I see the patterns forming that supports the beliefs that taking time to intentionally NOT be doing can open doors to amazing opportunities and achievements that were never even imagined.   ” Go with the flow” has changed for me from the old translation of ” don’t fight the pack” to a less fear-driven translation of ” travel with the universe’s flow of abundance to all new possibilities”.

Today I will aim for 12 minutes in the quiet.  It’s a start.


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