Anti-Hustle Culture

“…It is very important to be idle with confidence, with devotion, possibly even with joy. The days when even our hands do not stir are so exceptionally quiet that it is hardly possible to raise them without hearing a whole lot.”

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Life, 1875-1926

Being productive is wonderful.

It fulfils us in many different ways. It provides us with direction and a sense of self-worth from what we have achieved. We push ourselves to get the run in, the last report submitted or the last load of washing folded away. And without fail, we thank ourselves for it the next day. Productivity propels us forward to do what we should, and we are left with a sense of ease when our tasks are completed. Or at least, that’s how we should feel.

The problem with ‘hustle culture’ is that it doesn’t leave room for any sense of ease.

To be at ease we need to stop, to finish, close our proverbial suitcase for the day or the week, whatever it may be. But hustle culture encourages people to be in a perpetual state of chase, never satisfied, never finished, never at ease.

What. Is. The. Point

The whole purpose of productivity is to complete the tasks we need to in order to maintain balance. Balance means we must have both noise, and quiet. Movement and stillness. Work and reflection. The problem is that hustle culture says we are ineffective and futile unless we are pushing, moving and pursuing.

You are not Joe Rogan, and that’s okay.

We’re living in a time where we can compare ourselves to thousands of people at once. We’re holding ourselves up against people who are different to us in every conceivable way, in personality and circumstance. So even when we fulfil our own goals and complete our own tasks, we are bombarded with messages from other people (strangers) to keep going, because look at them, they worked out twice today and you only once, you wuss.

When did we start thinking we’re meant to run through life?

Why is it a badge of honour to always be busy, to break and bury ourselves with work? Hustle culture is a lie. It will not make you happy to single mindedly pursue a material goal. Nobody cares that you worked 80 hours this week except the partner and kids you’ll probably never have. Hustle culture will ensure that you miss the most magical moments in life while pursuing the most menial.

“It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?”

Henry David Thoreau, 1857, letter to Harrison Blake
Marc Chagall, Homage to Apollinaire, 1911-1912

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