Far too often, we correlate what we do with our worth and value. But we’re way more than our output.
I am a Capricorn, so work and productivity are essentially tattooed in my bloodstream. When conversations about what it looks like to have fun are brought up, generally the people around me will mention trips, vacations, or experiences. When it’s my turn to share, the answers normally revolve around my output: what I get to create, what I get to make, and with whom I get to make and create things with.
It’s taken years of spiritual and mental work to get to a place where I have a healthy (not all the time) relationship with the ways I view work. In fact, I’ve been part of a movement to help alter how we view work: both by definition and trade. Work has often been correlated with a thing we don’t like or get to do, but HAVE to do in order to survive and live (hello, capitalism.) And while this is true, I firmly believe that the right work, the kind of work that is aligned with our purpose and promise and truth, will be the kind of work that fulfills us, that brings us joy and is of service of our well-being.
But, if we are not working correctly, meaning we are letting the work dictate who we are and how we show up, we wind up not only doing ourselves a major disservice, we also can easily burn ourselves out physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
“Sleep when you die,” ”rise and grind,” “grind culture,” “LLC Twitter,” “hustle economy” are commonly used phrases we’ve seen trend on every social media platform. But, if we are only valuable when we are producing, who are we when we are not? If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that the measure of our worth can not be determined by things. No, our worth is much more than stats, numbers, and data—our breath alone makes us worthy of love, of good. We are walking miracles. Look at yourself now: beautiful, brilliant, you. You who has overcome struggle, heartache; has moved many mountains with a thought, with a prayer. When we attach our identities to how much we do, it limits the possibilities of what spirit can do. So much of who we’ve become has been framed by LinkedIn summaries, by Instagram highlights and Twitter bios. When we are first introduced to people we ask, “so what do you do for a living?” This question is mired in capitalism, in the idea that what deems us valuable to others is an occupation, a title.
So, how do we break free? The answer will almost always be the same: by letting go. We get to ask ourselves, “who am I when I am not working? Who am I when I am not trying to get somewhere, not doing something?” The mere provocation alone is enough to disrupt the how and why of the ways in which we show up in the world. When we let go of attaching our value, happiness, satisfaction and worth to how much we produce, we can make peace with ourselves in the space when we are most safe, most free, and most at peace: stillness.
We have been taught that "doing" is our way to salvation, to liberation. The reality is, our natural state of being brings us closer to the God source that rests innately in us. Our rest can be directly aligned with our freedom. Folks like Tricia Hersey and The Nap Ministry have been preaching the ethos of rest as a form of liberation at length. We don’t have to do anything to be worthy of love, of praise, or respect.
Our being is enough.
Joel Leon is a father, dreamer and storyteller. Follow him @joelleon.