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Life gets us all down from time to time. No matter how comfortable you may be with your situation, how confident you may generally be, and how many things you may have to be grateful for – some unfortunate circumstances always just around the corner and ready to knock you into the dirt. Sometimes, these unfortunate circumstances are ubiquitous, and you never get much chance to benefit from the happy turns of fate that seem to make up the majority of some other people’s lives. In times like these, it’s all too easy to look for people to blame, find excuses to make, and let yourself be led by the proclamations, stern instructions, advice, and indictments of ideologues. And – as is always the case – if you go looking for these excuses, and sources of authority, you will find them.
It’s not that no one has valid excuses in life, or people who they could reasonably blame. We all have those things, or could find them at a push. The real issue – or at least one of the real issues – with this kind of mentality, is that it degrades you. You may feel like you’re just trying to get justice served, but if you sit around feeling sorry for yourself, and making excuses – especially if they’re good excuses – you’re going to end up cheating yourself out of many opportunities in life. Ultimately, a life that is lived productively, and which revolves around the adoption of responsibility, and the creation of things – is far more meaningful than the alternatives.
Here are just a few reasons why that is the case.
- Doing something creative and productive will build your self-confidence, force you to face reality, and chase you out of your den of self-serving fables. All of us tell self-serving fables from time to time. That is to say, all of us are prone to interpreting events in our lives through a lens that serves our own interests, and our own ego. If we aren’t where we want to be in life, it’s pretty easy to look back over the years, and pinpoint moments that have “sabotaged” us, or people who have done us wrong. Doing something creative and productive – in other words, committing to doing something creative and productive – doesn’t allow you the luxury of living in those self-serving fables. It only cares about results. If you want to write a book, or you want to start a business, or you want to get in shape, or do just about anything else, the action stands alone. If you don’t get the words on the page, you’re not an author. If you don’t invest the hours to get your business off the ground, you’re not an entrepreneur. And if you don’t regularly hit the gym, consistently, and modify your plan according to what gets results, you’re not an “athlete.” In the words of the famous musician, and weightlifting enthusiast, Henry Rollins:
“The iron never lies to you.
You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk.
Get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The iron will always kick you the real deal…
Friends may come and go.
But 200 pounds is always 200 pounds.”
All of us need external, tangible reference points in the world, if we want to avoid “floating away.” Committing to productive and creative pursuits is a great way of remaining anchored, instead of being dragged this way and that by our own narratives, and the ideologies of others.
- There are now more technologies available than ever before to help you create something meaningful – it’s better to take advantage of them than to watch Netflix all evening. Not too long ago, people’s prospects were, on average, a lot more restricted than they are today. Getting into certain types of work required very specific forms of education that were not easily accessible to most, many “hobbies” required complex and pricey tools which cannot easily be sourced, and logistical issues put paid to many plans at their inception. These days – especially as a result of the rise of the Internet – there are now more tools, technologies, and resources available for creative action than have ever previously been on offer in human history. These days, anyone can conduct a deep interview with an interesting person, read a guide to transcription services, and have the transcript professionally typed up within days and ready to turn into an insightful article. Or, for that matter, just about anyone can start up an online business in a field with a low entry cost, such as affiliate marketing, with only a web domain name, hosting plan, and a set of WordPress themes and plug-ins. And what do most of us do, with all these opportunities at our disposal? Well… We watch Netflix all night, and spend our mornings scanning clickbait articles before work. With all these opportunities available, it seems almost irresponsible not to do something meaningful, and to take a more accountable and productive stance towards life.
- The world isn’t fair, or friendly, and it’s not going to be – an accountable, action-oriented mindset helps you to make your own opportunities, rather than depending on other people. We all like to think that people will generally be fair in their dealings with us, and that the world will reward us for being the good, upright people that we like to believe we are. Of course, the reality is that the world isn’t fair, or friendly, and there is no evidence that it ever will be. While we can strive to behave with integrity and consideration in our own dealings, predatory people exist, the world is complicated, and some people get struck by lightning. One popular reaction to this reality is to become outraged, sit in the corner, and rant that the world needs to sort itself out, and everyone else needs to get on our level, and make amends for the mistreatment we’ve been suffering. There’s some understandable temptation to take this path. Ultimately, though, it only makes you more vulnerable, less capable, less likeable, and less likely to live a fruitful life. Taking an accountable and action-oriented approach to life – even when things have been unfair – gives you a lot more opportunity to “make your own opportunities”, rather than depending on other people, and hoping that someone is going to come and save you. Most likely, no one is coming to save you, and if anyone does approach you with that stated intention – you should mistrust them severely.
- We live in an age of consumption – taking the time to create things, instead, makes us more autonomous. In 1932, the commentator Jay B Nash, penned a screed against what he called “Spectatoritis.” In this piece, the author cautioned that American society was becoming obsessed with “watching”, rather than “doing.” He referred to the example of the audiences for professional sports teams growing, while the number of people who actually played sports was diminishing. There’s no doubt that if he was onto something then, his prophecy has only become truer and truer over time. These days, we live in an age of consumption, and many of us base our entire identities around the consumer purchases we make. There are certain detriments to this. For one thing, it trains us to be more passive in our mode of existence. For another, we have less hands-on experience of the world around us, and are more prone to take things for granted. Taking a proactive and creative approach to life serves as an antidote to this.
Note: this post contains contributed content.