What Are You Doing?

Words by Justin Yoon

This is a follow up to “What the Hell Are You Talking About?” by The Minimalists. With The Minimalists’ entry focusing on words, I seek to focus on action.

We tend to ask this when we have no idea what we are doing. And more often than not, we struggle to answer why we are doing what we are doing. But what if we value what truly defines an action: discovery, memory, and merit? In other words, what if we ask what meaning our actions will truly have?

For example, do my actions make a meaningful contribution? Do they facilitate personal growth? What memory will it leave behind? What positive does the action present?

Actions that positively answer these questions include learning, traveling, creating, and reading. They enable us to not only enable personal growth, but for us to bolster our skill in other actions that fit in this category. For example, learning and reading increases creativity as well as our appreciation for the past, present, and future around us. This appreciation inspires us to create and travel, which focuses on discovery and memory with a sense of merit.

Or, is it shallow and solipsistic that either do nothing or worsen a malady? Is the action simply foolish, wasteful behavior that I will forget about? What negative does the action present?

Shallow actions include gluttonous eating, wasteful shopping, and meaningless web browsing. More often than not, such shallow actions can become meaningful actions if we choose. A food blog that focuses on healthy eating can replace gluttonous eating. Viewing products as inspiration for an idea can cut down on shopping. And browsing on learning materials and literature is more worthwhile web browsing.

If it is the former, then it is best to continue and hopefully do it to its fullest with no distractions. Those actions define us, enable us to flourish, and contribute to the larger communities around us. However, if it is the latter, we need to stop and reflect on our actions and ask what we are doing and why we are doing it. The latter fails to define us, causes us to regress, and provide nothing to the larger communities around us.

When we take action, it must have one of the aforementioned themes. Or else, we are simply wasting time on meaningless behavior. Time is a finite, nonrenewable currency. Therefore, like any scarce resource, optimization and efficiency are key. Actions that evoke discovery, memory, and merit make the time worthwhile and add satisfaction and a sense of success. Actions that do not make the time worthless and add a feeling of dragging and failure.

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