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Verging on the Unproductive

Permanent Linkby Ada on Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:17 pm

I've been over at Wild Minds reading about Maladaptive Daydreaming. I'm undecided about the maladaptiveness of my daydreams, since yes, it feels a lot like an addiction, but it also calms me, energises me, inspires me and lets me reason through the general oddness of life. Oh, and doesn't cause cancer. Put that way, it doesn't seem even slightly 'mal', but like all order/disorders, it's a question of degree. That's a topic for another day.

One poster there wrote:

"I worry that I am being hugely unproductive, and that I could achieve so much more if I didn't let myself slip into fantasy. However it is *such* an enjoyable experience that I don't want to try to stop. I have a successful job, partner, life etc, but feel that I should be doing more."

I've had that "unproductive" thought myself many times. And I am increasingly convinced it's untrue. Some years ago I stopped daydreaming for three weeks. I read something that just put it (or rather, me) in a new, unflattering light, and I went cold turkey. For a few days the urge was non-existent, and then for the rest of the time it was something I could resist by diverting my thoughts. In that time, I didn't exercise more or read more. I didn't feel like I had additional reserves of physical or mental energy for any activity. I was just me, minus daydreaming. The 4-8 hours a day I had spent doing it went on other, equally "unproductive" pastimes, mostly hanging around online. Then fantasy crept back in and I've been doing it routinely ever since, though still not without angst and self-scrutiny.

Wherever the drive to be "more productive" comes from, it doesn't take into account the fact that people need downtime. More or less of it, depending on one's mental constitution, but always important. The trick is, perhaps, that a minority use their downtime in ways that others still value as productive, which makes the majority unproductive by comparison. Thanks, minority. Nice one.

I'm ranting rather than thinking, now. I'll end with some extra reading if anyone's interested: a short story by W. Somerset Maugham. It's called "The Verger" and has a nicely relevant punchline.

We think too much and feel too little.
 More than machinery, we need humanity.
 More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.

Charlie Chaplain in The Great Dictator
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