In our ever increasing fast-paced, twitter-feeding, blog-rolling, facebook-frenzying, instagramming, always-planning, content-cramming lifestyles, something invaluable perpetually eludes us.
A life-hacking culture is rapidly emerging and taking mainstream and it’s no surprise as to why. Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003 according to Google CEO, Eric Schmidt. “Let me repeat that” says Schmidt, “we create as much information in two days now as we did from the dawn of man through 2003.” And each article, ebook, tweet, post, or status update all contains multiple embedded links directing you to more content which is sure to contain more links to even further “must-read-now-before-it-goes-extinct” information.
For those who are able to overcome the paralysis by analysis complex (oops, just linked you to a further “must-read” wiki page), you are met with the entirely new challenge of now seeking ways to prioritize, process, and digest at least some of this information so it can be put into use. Otherwise, what good is it?
Enter the Life-hacking Culture.
According to my good friend, John Wikipedia:
“Coined in the 1980s in hacker culture, Life hacking refers to any productivity trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method to increase productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life; in other words, anything that solves an everyday problem of a person in a clever or non-obvious way. The term became popularized in the blogosphere and is primarily used by computer experts who suffer from information overload or those with a playful curiosity in the ways they can accelerate their workflow in ways other than programming.” – You can read on all about its origins, history and popularization if you must but I advise and prefer you maintain focus here in the present for the next short paragraphs.
I see it only as a natural evolution, that “information overload” would require us to devise methods to cut corners through the clutter and connect the dots in ways that make possible, the consumption and digestion of information which could potentially be useful. The operative word here is, potentially. To make a tautological statement, statements of which type I normally abhor but in this case see necessary to remind us of the glaringly obvious; in order for something to be useful, it must be put to use! To paraphrase the late and great Dr. David Hawkins, MD, PhD: Action doesn’t proceed simply from examining data, it comes from recognizing its context and relevance – Any bit of information is useless to the extent that we cannot, will not, and ultimately do not act upon it.
The Paradox of Information: The end is only the beginning…
You may have found a methodology that works for you. You may be fully wired, four-hourred, zen-habituated, and life-hackerred out. And you may have adopted and implemented a series of “hacks” that do help you to navigate your way through this vast and unending sea of streaming content. You might have even made it to the end this brief post without getting distracted by all the links I’ve just embedded… Welcome back. Now, if you are a life-hacking enthusiast that’s fine, so am I. We all need to implement a little strategy here and there to optimize our time. But to what end? Let’s not lose sight of where we’re going and where we may already be. I urge you to ask yourself this question: What is the end-game? Happiness? – anyone?… Bueller?
The real paradox is this: Happiness is available to each of us at any time. Just think of something that puts you in a good mood. It could be anything; a fond memory, a close friend laughing at a funny story, a dream or place or idea that excites you. Imagine this scene in high definition and hold it in mind for a full minute. Now see how you feel. Did you get a glimpse of happiness and feeling content? Be honest. – How many ebooks did you just consume to get there? How much clutter did you just cut out? How many productivity tips, life-hacks, or habits of successful people did you pull from? – you get the picture. Why keep trying to take shortcuts in life, when you have already arrived?
Finding ways to effectively sift through and assemble information can be useful and often is necessary. But let me remind you what you already know – that the greatest happiness and pleasure in life is derived from the mere awareness of our own existence. – “I am HERE, NOW.” When it comes to happiness, satisfaction, joy and fulfillment, whether we’re reading (really reading) a good book, blogpost, or article, visiting a museum, listening to music, or sitting in silence, presence of mind is what is most important and the only thing that is truly required.
Think you can hack it? – don’t answer, don’t try, be.