We are hard wired for taking action and getting stuff done. It only makes sense, doesn’t it? Our survival as a society depends on the actions of lots of different people. We each do our part and everything runs smoothly. It only makes sense then that we have an internal mechanism hard wired into our brain that rewards us for getting things done.
I’m sure you’ve seen this in action in your own life. You feel proud, accomplished, and happy when you wrap up a big work project, or finish reorganizing your closet. It’s a great feeling and it’s what drives us to get things done on a regular basis. It’s motivation to get to work and take action.
On the other hand, when we don’t have anything meaningful to do and we don’t feel like we’re contributing, we get depressed. People who don’t have a fulfilling job, or feel like the work they do is useless, are much more likely to feel down, tired, sad, and depressed.
But there's a fine line between productive and busy. The key to happiness if finding your sweet spot of doing enough productive stuff and having enough down time to enjoy it.
The best way to turn that around is to find something, anything we can do to make us feel productive. If we feel like we’re contributing to others, having a positive impact on their lives, all the better. Give it a try. The next time you feel down, force yourself to do one little productive thing. Clean an area of your classroom, or do a load of laundry. Want to up the happiness factor? Do something awesome for someone else. Help a student finish a project or go the extra mile to bring a friend their favorite coffee. Doing good makes people feel happy.