The necessary discomfort of wasting time, making mistakes and not being certain
This blog probably goes against all the advice that asks you to wake up at 5 am and make the best of your day, or to ensure that you plan well and avoid mistakes and only go for options you feel sure about. This advice comes from all corners like CEOs, coaches, and even therapists. I wouldn’t blame them because we are all caught in a culture that fears uncertainty and thrives by this imagined scarcity of time and bad decisions. Apparently we don’t have “too much time” and there are only “so many bad calls that you can make”. And that I think, is a lie.
Chaos and discomfort are very important for our essence to emerge.
If you have ever curdled milk to make butter, ghee, cheese or paneer, you know that the process is not pretty but has to be gone through to arrive at a more defined state. This does mean we romanticize oppression or difficulty. These experiences are not necessary and unfairly affect some individuals over others. However, the discomfort I am talking about is related to the universal nature of suffering and affects all of us in some or the other way: losing a loved one, being sick or caring for someone that is sick, being afraid of rejection once you start being more authentic and feeling like no matter how hard you try, good things don’t last.
When we waste time contemplating things, relaxing and being unproductive, we are developing parts of ourselves that cannot necessarily be monetized.
These are the parts that give good company to us when we are in solitude and good friendship and support to others when we are companionated. Often, someone who feel hardpressed to do useful things all the time, tends to not have parsed through their thoughts, feelings, philosophies and experiences and is harder to talk to. Wasting time is also necessary to unhook self-worth from time management and productivity and have a richer definition of who you are, outside of what you do and how much money you make.
Surviving the times when you made decisions, did not know what to do, and had to thus tolerate uncertainty and discomfort — allows you to grow skills like patience, perseverance, tolerance, appreciation for nuance, perspective taking and empathy — so long as you work through these experiences. Work done by Carol Dweck and Collagues shows that what is more important than failure is the mindset, and what followed the failure. Did we or someone we love talk to us about understanding the failure, and provide guidance? Did we focus on efforts rather than ability? Did we focus on learning through challenges rather than appearing smart by never failing? These are crucial to making sense of the failure in a way that leads to character growth.
Bad decisions, mistakes and wasted time let us live a full life, without keeping us on a leash of the “max” amount of time wastage and blunders we are allowed. Life is chaotic anyway, this mentality makes us feel like we are causing the chaos because of bad habits. When we let go of the leash, we accept the chaos and the suffering as universal and not our causing, and once this personal, self-near explanation is taken away, we are able to learn and grow with what we choose to do with our time and decisions. Can you imagine stories, movies, philosophy, theories,art or music if we lived “rightly” all the time? Our mistakes and wasted time make our life richer and more meaningful.