Artistic Fulfillment VS Pragmatism: Dangers of Black And White Thinking
“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” ― Isaac Asimov
Most people in our society have a grim and dark outlook on life. And the core reason is that most of us think in a black and white fashion.
When it comes to making choices, it is either A or B, but never both.
This type of thinking is why we fail in our self-actualization efforts. If we lack open-mindedness, if we are not comfortable with ambiguity, if the change is not the norm; then prepare to be very disappointed in this journey.
In spirituality, as well as science, nothing ever is completely true or false – only plausible until proven otherwise. Living in a dualistic reality of everything needing to either be right or wrong, good or bad, black or white, is living from a place of misunderstanding.
Understanding is knowing that there is no good or bad, no black or white, no right or wrong, no permanence besides impermanence, and the only thing that really exists is the “is.”
Procrastination also stems from our stubbornness of making a choice. Why are you giving yourself anxiety when you can easily enjoy some entertainment time (artistic fulfillment) and also pursue your life’s purpose (pragmatic living)?
Here is an example:
A teenager generally knows that he needs to do his homework. But he still spends his days playing his favorite tunes with his guitar.
The next day, after getting a bad grade, he now forces himself to stop playing the guitar altogether so that he can study properly and make society proud.
It seems like a natural conclusion to his procrastination problem, right?
What our teenager doesn’t realize is there are many people who play the guitar and at the same time “ace” school.
By forcing himself to pick one option over the other ( in this case – pragmatic results over artistic fulfillment), he creates an unbalanced and unsatisfying life.
My case against black and white thinking is this:
If we want to maximize life satisfaction, we need both artistic fulfillment which appeals to our emotions and pragmatic living which appeals to our rational mind.
Before we get into the reasons, let me get definitions out of the way.
#1 – What is Art?
Art is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts, expressing the author’s imaginative or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power.
#2 – What is Artistic Fulfilment?
Artistic fulfillment is the pleasure you get after engaging in an emotionally intense and personally meaningful experience.
#3 – What is Pragmatic Living?
Pragmatic living is living for results and benefits. As long as something is beneficial (ex. money, status, success), it is worth pursuing.
Artistic Fulfilment VS Pragmatic Results : Why Balance Is Crucial?
Most of us think what seperates us from animals is our rationality. The problem is that we are inherently emotional creatures. Our ability to feel variety of emotions creates many creative breakthroughs.
You think you make decisions based on strategic thinking but in medieval times, we trusted our reflexes and subconscious mind to detect and run away from environmental dangers.
Our emotions run deeper than our rational neo-cortex which only started to develop recently. Our emotional reptilian part of our brain has existed ever since we were humans. Emotions are coded in our DNA.
When we look at a rational and logical lifestyle, we see an ordinary life. We write. We think. We talk. We plan. We socialize. Yet all of these activities use our rational side of our brain. There is also the emotional component to our lives.
A normal human being does 90% of what he does out of boredom, security or comfort. This really further proves my point that emotions run deep in our DNA.
This is why living a pragmatic life where you only focus on results and material gains is incomplete. There is no soul. There is no emotion.
Business is a pragmatic venture. You learn selling skills, marketing, psychology and you try to grow. Your focus is on results, not the process.
But there are certain businesses that are art forms. Businesses where the creation is enjoyable by itself, not just used as a means for an end. For the creator, the business is so artistic that the creator becomes an artist, just like a painter and a musician.
Art expresses emotions – something that we desperately need in our robotic society. When a teenager decides to stop pursuing music and to start exclusively focusing on his academic success, he is throwing away his most humane side – his artistic emotional desires.
Most things in life can be considered an art form because art is fundamentally subjective. You can’t say Monalisa is art but the TV show “Breaking Bad” isn’t.
Art fundamentally depends on your perceptions, life experiences and even a particular distinct memory association.
Assume that you see a dead bird while walking down the street. For most people, this is disgusting. But for you, it might remind you of your own mortality.
The intricate position that the bird is in makes you question how instant and sudden death can be.
Maybe you see a slight sadness in pigeon’s face which reminds you of how horrible you felt when your girlfriend slapped you in the face after learning you were sleeping with someone else.
The possibilities of what an artistic eye can see are infinite. It sees beauty in even the ugliest of situations.
Entertainment products, even though I mostly think of them as garbage, can really help you in your emotional health. I can see how a minority of them can be a great tool to fulfill your artistic needs.
I’ll talk about this in another episode, but active forms of entertainment (ex. playing the guitar) should be a priority over passive entertainment types (ex. TV shows).
Why do you think most people, after coming from work, just want to watch TV?
Their emotional and artistic desires weren’t met in their dull and monotonous jobs.
Regardless, both of these entertainment types are somewhat helpful. They twiddle your emotional brain which is why most people are purely addicted to their candy crush.
Now let me be clear, this is not an excuse for you to be addicted to entertainment. It is all about finding a delicate balance.
You can combine a pragmatic task like business and marketing with something you love, which is an artistic fulfillment. That is how I’d struck a balance in my career.
The point I want to make in this article is rather simple. I want you to question your day to day activities.
Ask yourself: Do I evenly balance pragmatic tasks (ex. marketing, success, improvement efforts) with artistic fulfillment (ex. creating creative content, playing musical instruments, reading inspirational books)?
Remember: The question is never, “How to fully eliminate something?”It is : “How to find the proper sustainable balance?”
When you answer this question and stop engaging in black and white thinking, I assure you that your life satisfaction will sky rocket.
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