The importance of projects and personal pursuits
The human being craves a purpose. Without a purpose, we rot and wither away in a self-destructive decline into madness.
The human brain has evolved to reward action and productive behaviour with feel-good chemicals to encourage their further continuation. As a species, we have evolved and survived by doing things.
There are plenty of things we could be doing. In fact, there are many things we should be doing. Laundry, cleaning, work, replying to emails, readings, assignments – you get my point. But some of these things aren’t particularly engaging.
It seems to me like we need to be doing something and working towards a goal. But not just any goal. The best goals are the ones that are meaningful to us by our own definition. Without these personal pursuits, it’s easy to fall into the dull and monotonous routine of life.
It seems like what we need is to supplement the boring and uninteresting parts of our lives with something meaningful and fulfilling. This is where personal projects are crucial to our well-being.
Have you ever wondered why your dad and his friends can talk for hours about the deck one of them built last summer? Or why your roommate can get lost in their artwork? Some pursuits allow us to lose our sense of time and take us into a different world. Better yet, these pursuits are fun, enjoyable and we look forward to them.
The importance of these projects and personal pursuits cannot be understated. When times get sad, confusing, or overwhelming, these are the activities that ground us and restore a sense of fulfilment to our lives. When times are good, these activities add an additional layer of satisfaction while highlighting the best side of human nature.
It’s easy to forget about personal projects and fall into the culture of consumption around us. With streaming services, social media, on-demand food delivery and hook-up culture trying to make up for lost time from the COVID-19 pandemic, being a creature of consumption is easy as ever.
As much as human beings are creatures of consumption, we are equally creatures of creation! Some of the best features of humanity are those that have been brought into being by creative and passionate projects. Architecture, literature, art, music, social organizations and technological feats highlight the creative side of human nature.
Just how consumption is easier today than at any point in human history, so is creation! With a phone and internet connection, you can film, write, podcast, edit and produce almost anything that was previously inaccessible to the generations that came before us. You can build, create, develop and design anything you want. Why not go to the gym, learn an instrument, design a game, build a website, write a song, start a podcast or anything else you’ve thought about doing?
This is the choice individual members of our society will have to make coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Are we beings of consumption, who are spoon-fed our entertainment and are robbed of our time? Or do we want to build, produce and create the world around us?