If not this, then what?

If not this, then what?
Photo by Jonathan Greenaway / Unsplash

I'm currently neck-deep in work and other things, so it's been a while since I last posted. That said, I've kept an eye out for any intriguing insights. Over the past few months, then, I've noticed something subtle: We love to both brag and crib about many things in life, most commonly how hard we work and how we have no time.

It's funny because these brags are so humble and subtle we don't quite pick them up as 'brags' per se. Yet, we sprinkle our chats with friends, coworkers, and family, with unnecessary details. (If you didn't notice, the first part of the first sentence of this post was unnecessary).

At the same time, this brag is funny too because we also dislike 'working very hard' and 'having no time'. Nobody was ever truly "happy" working till 2am on a Sunday night, exceptions aside.

Yet, we continue to harbor this love-hate-brag-crib relationship with all things work. My insight, then, was simple: How about we try to take this relationship with work, to its extreme, to pressure-test some assumptions?

Let's say you tend to brag-crib about how your entire day is full of meetings. My point is why to brag-crib half-heartedly, instead of taking meaningful steps toward resolving the situation? The question, then, is this: Would you have it any other way? Or, in other words: If not this, then what?

I find that this filter of 'if not this, then what' is a forcing function to get you to concretely think about an alternate reality you can create, about which you can brag and not have to crib. Chances are you do not have an answer to this question, though.

Which is okay.

But it does reveal something deeper here, that, you probably like what you get to be doing and that you would avoid the painful, introspective, thinking work of figuring out an alternate reality for yourself. Most people avoid this thinking work, and that's okay, but equipped with this knowledge, the next time you brag or crib about your work or time, you'll hopefully think a bit more.

After all, "I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain." – James Baldwin

Until next time,