From the 32 million estimated living penguins, none gives a damn about productivity. They don't save for the future and often remain unaware of the existence of predators until it is too late to do anything about it.
Contrary to what is portrayed in cartoons and children books, penguins are neither creative nor funny. This is proven by the fact that tourists going to the Stewart Islands in New Zealand rarely devote more than a couple of hours to watch penguins.
“I had never realized that penguins were so passive,” Japanese tourists frequently comment. “They just stand there for hours and do nothing.”
Practically without exception, tourists return home with the conviction that being a penguin is not really that much fun.
Luckily, most humans come to a similar conclusion by the time we grow up. Hanging around, squandering our life away, is not a viable option for those who aspire to happiness.
Only purposeful action and continued achievement fulfil our psychological need to feel in control of our future.
Irrespective of the field involved, productiveness is the key to happiness.
As long as the process remains result-oriented, it matters little whether you choose to devote yourself to growing your own company, writing music, searching for an effective treatment of cancer, or raising your kids to become great human beings.
Our rational nature takes pleasure in every achievement along the way. No matter how small our victories, we all love to tell our friends about them.
- AT WORK: when you figure out a way to complete a task quicker than anyone expected.
- AT HOME: when you manage to fix an old appliance that was considered beyond repair.
- IN SPORTS: when you succeed at running faster and score additional points.
- AT INVESTING: when you see the value of your assets go up and feel your strategy vindicated.
Its four essential tenets constitute a restatement of the ancient Taoist principle of harmonious action:
- A call for simplicity and evenness in all processes.
- Abhorrence of waste and emphasis on long-term sustainability.
- A focus on human creativity as the ultimate economic resource.
- The view of life as a flow of actions that can be continuously improved.
There is a good reason behind the passivity of penguins. Although they know how to catch fish, they don't realize that, one day, they are going to die. None of us can hide behind that sort of ignorance.
In the last decade, the number of work-hours needed to manufacture a car has been halved, but as individuals, we have not become twice as productive and happy.
Understanding the link between productiveness and happiness is only the first step. What remains is to draw the map that shows us the path to a brighter life.
[Image by Glen Bowman under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]