In our capitalist society, we are taught to conflate our worth with our productivity. The result of this mindset is a tremendous toll on our mental and physical health. While these issues are largely systematic, individuals play a role in upholding the ideological forces that sustain them. That’s why I decided to harness the power of my own thinking by no longer worrying about being constantly productive and instead starting to worry about exactly what happens when we die.
When even your chillest friend has monetized her collaging hobby and it seems everyone’s success is broadcast across social media, it can be hard to turn your brain off or do things simply because they bring you joy. It definitely was hard for me. Actually, it was impossible. That’s why I opted to replace those worries by ruminating on the terror of the great unknown that is Death. You ever try it? It’s incredible. I’ve never been less productive!
In the past, even a few hours of free time would be anxiety-inducing for me. I felt this great pressure to fill it with something meaningful, worthwhile; something that would either improve my life or the world around me. Now when I clock out of work and get home to a free night I can just plop down on my couch no problem, because as soon as I plop down and stare into the abyss of my turned-off television screen, my brain is 100% occupied with concerns like what if one specific religion just happened to get it totally right and when I die I’m totally fucked? Am I going to burn in a Boschian hellscape? Am I going to be reincarnated as a lizard, which would be cool, but not a life I feel particularly prepared for? Is it just total nothingness? What will it feel like as life leaves my body? What about the fact that I could literally die at any time like from a falling AC unit or heart failure? Anyway, I no longer feel any pressure to start that podcast with my friend who’s been asking.
So to all of those still struggling with feelings of inadequacy or worry over productivity levels, I urge you to set yourself free! You have agency over how you engage with your thoughts, and you can use that agency to obsess over what happens once we reach the inevitable horror of nonexistence until you can hardly do anything else. It’s easy! Now I’m off to shop some organized religions; let me know if you have any leads you feel confident about.