Q: The “Information Age” seems to have ushered in this hectic, new pace of working that’s driving us all a bit crazy. And it feels unsustainable. How do you think we ended up here?
Maria Popova : I think that word “should” in our internal narratives is very toxic—this notion of, “what should I be doing?” and it’s always pegged to some sort of expectation, whether it’s self-imposed or external or a combination of the two. It’s hard to balance those expectations of what you should be doing with what you want to be doing. I feel very fortunate in that to a large extent what I do is exactly what I want to be doing for myself, and I still write for an audience of one. I read things that stimulate me and inspire me and help me figure out how to live and then I write about them. The fact that there are other people who enjoy it is nice, but it’s just a byproduct.
I think there is a high correlation between “type A” personalities and people that “do their own thing.” But we typically do that thing within a structure that’s borrowed from the world of working for the man—the only difference is you’re the man now. When you’re your own boss, the demands you place on yourself are probably higher and more intense than any demands anyone else would place on you if you were an employee.
If we are so busy being successful that we don’t have time to be happy, then we need to seriously reconsider our definition of success.