And remember that you can learn to enjoy many productive actions.
Our attachments to activities grow as we do them. We browse Instagram once, we do it a second time, and if we aren’t careful, we find ourselves burning over an hour a week on an activity that offers almost no long-term benefit to ourselves or society.
Most people’s set of unproductive habits start off as innocent pleasures to escape boredom. Many of us often justify our nonproductive habits because “we need to destress”; the underlying assumption is that there is not a reasonable way to experience the same level of hedonic experience through more productive action.
The human mind is incredibly adaptable, and most people can learn to enjoy any number of activities, especially in a pleasure-scarce environment where other, more rewarding activities are not immediately available.
As obvious is this may sound, it seems we forget this all the time. People allow themselves to need Netflix to unwind, and they forget that they could have wired themselves to unwind to the same degree by writing or programming, which are usually going to help oneself and the world better.
If we don’t enjoy unproductive actions and focus exclusively on productive actions (which may be as simple as writing out our thoughts on Google Keep), we can wire our brains to reward us for productive actions. Then, our life can become a glorious dance of productivity where we have nothing to hide and we can feel good about feeling good. We can enjoy ourselves and fulfill our potential to have a positive impact.