On Productivity: More about Big and Little Mind

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them—that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” —Lao TzuPage-4-for-FB

I included an essay in my first book, Modern Enlightenment, called “Whose Underwear Are You Wearing?” It was a manifesto of sorts at the time.

In it I shared my seemingly-wacky-but-actually-quite-sound theory that if we all just did exactly what we wanted to do with our lives, supply would miraculously equal demand. If we did what was in our nature to do, the world would work like, well, like nature works.

Just look at the wisdom in nature; the wisdom in ecological systems and planetary systems and the animal kingdom. Look at how babies are born with their factory default settings set just right to thrive, ready to walk and speak as soon as their brain catches up, with virtually no human directive needed.

Look at how those innate default settings are always there. You can’t erase the default nature of something—at most you can program over it a bit, maybe download some peripheral “junk” that slows it down—but the underlying nature of the system isn’t changed. It can’t be.

Unfortunately, humans often think we know how to do things better than nature does. We believe our thinking is superior to our internal guidance. We say we believe in something bigger and wiser than ourselves, but we certainly don’t act like it. We fight for Little Mind to be heard at all costs despite the fact that when Little Mind is talking, Big Mind can’t be heard.

We do it in choosing a career, as I wrote about in my underwear essay. We ignore the fact that we’ve loved telling stories since we were in diapers and choose a career in business because not many people make it in fiction writing and the life of a creative is not for me and I want security and who knows what’s happening in the publishing industry anyway? We snub Big Mind and worship Little Mind.

And we do it everywhere else as well. I talk to people every single day who think about what they want to do that day rather than simply do what they want to do. They logically conclude that they should do any number of things they’re not being called to do.

Because they trust Little Mind over Big Mind, they ignore what they want and do what they “should.” And they suffer like you wouldn’t believe.

They become disappointed in themselves for wanting to rest or play and for not wanting to do the hundreds of “more productive” things they’ve mentally decided would be best.

I ask: What are you trying to produce? Are you an assembly line or a human being? Is your life a production?

Production is great if you’re on an assembly line throwing a car together or engaged in a labor of love in your kitchen. But life is being lived through you. You’re here to be, not to make. You’re here to live and experience and love, not produce and engineer and plot.

So here’s my new and expanded underwear theory (and I have solid evidence for this, in case you’re wondering): When you allow yourself to do what you feel truly compelled to do, life works like nature. When you’re guided by Big Mind rather than try to guide by far-sighted Little Mind, everything falls into place.

Tigers and squid and even Homo sapiens babies allow their factory default settings to move them through life with the ordinary flow of nature. Why can’t you?

When you rest when you want to rest and play when you want to play, you will wake up one day and effortlessly clean or exercise or return phone calls or pay bills if those things are ultimately in your nature. But when you force yourself to do things you don’t want to do and deprive yourself rest and play, you screw it all up. You’re playing God, glorifying Little Mind, and doubting Big Mind.

Studies even show that when small children are allowed to eat anything they want, they only eat ice cream and cookies for a couple days before their choices balance out naturally.

Big Mind takes care of balance—balance is not your job. Your job is to do what you feel called to do when you feel called to do it. Trust it. Set the thinking and reasons aside and allow yourself to make easy, natural choices.

Something bigger and wiser will take care of the rest, and your life will be easier and more fulfilling for it.

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