Do More or Do Less? A Modern Conundrum
One of my qualities that I value most is my motivation. I like the fact that I am driven to do things like maintain this website and do all the stuff that fills its pages. As such, I frequently try to cram as much as possible into my days.
Some examples include:
- Having a ticksheet on my fridge to track how much exercise I do.
- Treating the dishwasher’s alarm as a challenge.
- A period of my life in which I didn’t walk more than 50 yards because running was quicker.
- The fact that I read political commentary on my phone when faced with more than two minute’s walking and no other stimulation (e.g. going to the supermarket) or more than thirty seconds standing (e.g. in a queue at the supermarket).
- Frequently finding myself balancing on one leg during conversation because I know it will strengthen my ankles.
This brings me satisfaction because it feels like I am making the most of my time, using every spare second for something productive. (N.B. I am not claiming to be an efficiency super hero. I have plenty of lazy elements and I procrastinate like everyone else. The point is that I try to fill every moment and that I value doing so).
“Use your time”, is my wife’s motto for life and I get where she’s coming from. This is one part of me: the part that wants to use my time and always be doing something.
There is another part of me, however, that sees all of this rushing around and cramming things in, and thinks chillll… What’s the hurry? Enjoy the moment. Don’t bury yourself in a smart phone. Take in your surroundings.
I think the basic idea behind this philosophy is quality not quantity. It ties in with Bhuddist Mindfulness (on which I recently attended a course) and an increasing interest in “minimalism” (see this blog, this blog and this blog for examples). I like this stuff too. I like the idea of focusing on the present rather than dwelling on the past or always aiming for the future.
So there is a tension. I want to do more, be more and achieve more with my life. But I also want to be satisfied with how I am now and appreciate today.
How are these two things reconciled?
You could argue that you just need to strike a balance between the two. But that seems unsatisfactory. A compromise where neither desire is sated.
This is a conundrum to which I have yet to find a satisfactory answer. My current ethos is to keep cramming while I’m “young”, taking a mindful moment once in a while, with the aim of shifting the focus to a more measured mindful way of life as I grow older. Or, in other words, keeping busy and burying the issue until a later date.
What do you think? Do you cram as much into life as possible? Or do you prefer to take things as they come and appreciate them for what they are? Add your comments below.