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Relaxation as productivity?

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Quick question about the virtue of productivity. If productivity is defined as doing that which brings you value, could relaxation be productive too since you need to recover from the day sometimes and recharges you for later? That seems to make sense to me, so no question really. Came this far, mine as well post it. So, is relaxation productivity?

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So, is relaxation productivity?

Technically, no, relaxation is not a means of production. However, since we are human and we must rest and relax, it is a necessary component of being able to work. We have to sleep, it's in our nature, so the attempt to continue to work against that nature and not sleep is counter-productive and will decrease your productivity. Likewise for relaxation, which is necessary because by our nature even concentrating on a mental project for too long a period at a time will become counter-productive.

The virtue of productiveness does not imply that one must be hard at work on something productive 24/7 without periods of rest and relaxation. Get your rest so you can be more productive, and try to enjoy your downtime.

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So, is relaxation productivity?

Yes. The human body must "recharge" in order to function normally. Failing to take time to relax can lead to sleep deprivation and other side effects of stress, which are not healthy for the body or the mind.

Me, on a beach, in a hammock, with a pina colada and a good book right now would be incredibly productive! :)

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I can integrate the two previous opinions into a noncontradictory whole. Relaxation stands in a means-end relation to productivity. Relaxation is not identical with productivity but is closely related by deriving its virtuous aspects from it.

Also, genuine productivity also enables true relaxation. Self esteem is a necessity. Self-esteem derives in part from efficaciousness. If one doesn't derive any sense of efficaciousness from work, then it has to come from some other activity. When Roark goes on a vacation he can actually relax because there is no need to frantically (due to shortness of vacations and parties) seize his critical values to prove himself efficacious, he "gave at the office".

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Technically, no, relaxation is not a means of production. However, since we are human and we must rest and relax, it is a necessary component of being able to work. We have to sleep, it's in our nature, so the attempt to continue to work against that nature and not sleep is counter-productive and will decrease your productivity. Likewise for relaxation, which is necessary because by our nature even concentrating on a mental project for too long a period at a time will become counter-productive.

The virtue of productiveness does not imply that one must be hard at work on something productive 24/7 without periods of rest and relaxation. Get your rest so you can be more productive, and try to enjoy your downtime.

Ok, so relaxing doesn't sound like it counts as being productive, it seems. But it is not against virtue of productiveness to relax. So productiveness is "gaining value" by "work" not defined just by "gaining value," right? Thanks.

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So productiveness is "gaining value" by "work" not defined just by "gaining value," right? Thanks.

Think of it more as work and productiveness makes relaxation possible. In other words, if you weren't productive enough to have extra money after paying your bills, you'd have to work over the weekend instead of relaxing. Of course, you should enjoy your work, and if you are in the right job / career you will, but you have to be there and you have to be productive to get paid. After you get paid and pay your bills, that extra income is your savings and makes it possible for you to do strictly enjoyable things with your spare time, like watch a movie or go to a ball game or whatever you enjoy. You are actually spending time and or money while you are relaxing and not creating anything profitable, but you earned your time to not to have to be productive every single moment. In some parts of the world, they must still work 16 hours a day plus just to be able to put food on the table, but in a more civilized industrial country, 8 hours per day working is generally sufficient.

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If productivity is to profit, that is it brings you value, then can relaxation be seen as part of that process too since it is essential for humans?

Edited by Dingbat

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If productivity is to profit, that is it brings you value, then can relaxation be seen as part of that process too since it is essential for humans?

In terms of gaining spiritual value or spiritual fuel, probably. It's just that productiveness usually means gaining material value. But while one may gain spiritual value, from say watching a movie, one has to spend material value (pay for the movie) before one can gain the spiritual value. So, I think one would have to assess whether or not the spiritual value gained was more than the money spent, which might be difficult to do. I would certainly say that for a novel like Atlas Shrugged, for which you only paid a few dollars and maybe a week to read it and maybe many long years to understand it, those prices paid are less than the value gained. But for say, watching most TV, even the better drama available, I'm not sure one can say the same thing. If they were better done, I'd say yes, but they are not enough pure romanticism to be of such great value compared to the $60 a month one pays for cable. I do enjoy watching TV, and I think I do profit from it spiritually, in the above sense, but it's not a great value, just worth the price, in my opinion.

Art is there to concretize an abstraction, and if by concretizing an abstraction well that you hadn't thought of, one gains a great value. Experiencing that world can bring one greater self-confidence for which one can use to be even more productive, but it depends on what you are getting out of it.

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Thomas, it seems like you are defining productivity to gain a material value? If that is true then relaxation doesn't count as productivity because you're not "engaging" in an activity and the reward isn't material. But then again, aren't you, because you can choose to relax as much as possible, thus engaging in activity, for the profit of feeling more relaxed, clearheaded, etc. Thus, while engaging in relaxation or say, getting a massage, aren't you being productive?

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In terms of gaining spiritual value or spiritual fuel, probably. It's just that productiveness usually means gaining material value. But while one may gain spiritual value, from say watching a movie, one has to spend material value (pay for the movie) before one can gain the spiritual value.

I'm not sure if you can have a dichotomy between material value and spiritual value. Isn't our value in material things because it relates to us spiritually? Isn't the nature of value something spiritual?

In the end, I guess what I'm trying to say is that all values, or what you should be getting from anything, is something spiritual. And thus, the purpose of productivity is to satisfy our "spiritual ambitions". Therefor, relaxation can be considered an aspect of productivity.

Edited by Dingbat

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I'm not trying to set up a dichotomy between spiritual values and material values, even our spiritual values -- say enjoying music -- must be in some physical form, say a record or a CD or a file. The issue seems to come down to this question: If you gain something, are your being productive? And I think the only answer to that question is this: If you are creating it, then you are being productive. In other words, using myself as an example, I created a lot while writing my novel, but someone reading it isn't creating anything, even though he could be getting a lot out of it. So, the enjoyment of your relaxation time isn't creating anything, but rather consuming things -- money or time -- for the sake of that enjoyment. You could say, in a sense, that you are creating your enjoyment, but I think that is a euphemism. You do become happy by participating in those things that bring you joy -- and you could say that you went through the effort to make yourself happy -- but you haven't created the spiritual value, you are simply enjoying it. So, I don't think I would say that getting a massage is creating anything, though you could certainly enjoy a massage. The only way in which you could say that you created it was that you converted your money into a massage or a CD, because it is an exchange of values, but still, you didn't write the music you are listening to and you didn't become a masseuse -- you created the money or other means of exchange, so you were being creative there; but you didn't create those things which you are consuming, you are consuming them. So I think I still have to say that relaxation, in and of itself, is not a creative process, and therefore is not productive. However, if you learn something or have a new thought brought about by listening to that music or getting a massage, then you were being creative while relaxing; but the relaxation didn't create it, you created it while in a more relaxed state of mind.

I think the key is asking yourself: What is it that you are creating?

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To create something is to bring into actuality what was not originally there. If something brings you happiness or enjoyment then I think it is legitimate to say that it was created.

I think the key is asking yourself: What is it that you are creating?

I think you are meaning for material answers to that question, like writing a novel. Instead, I think the correct answer should be spiritual: happiness. If you can rationally prove that your actions promote your own happiness then I would consider you productive. Somebody can create something bad, like creating a deadly virus that harms others, but I wouldn't consider that person productive because that act would not promote his happiness. Or, suppose a religious person works very hard to safeguard his ignorance by deny objective reality. I wouldn't consider that to be legitimately productive because it is not an activity that promotes rational happiness.

Ask yourself: why am I creating these material things? If you create things without purpose, like a machine, I don't think you can consider yourself being productive. If a slave was ordered to do something that he didn't find meaning in then I don't think that slave would consider his actions as being productive. Productivity only makes sense to humans because they are able to value things, and humans value because they can experience happiness.

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To create something is to bring into actuality what was not originally there. If something brings you happiness or enjoyment then I think it is legitimate to say that it was created.

[As an aside, I have to wonder why some of you choose the pseudonyms you do...I mean, Dingbat? You don't come across as a dingbat to me :) ]

There is certainly a sense in which one must create one's own happiness because those things which make you happy are not going to be accidentally in the space your are occupying, such as your living room, unless you put them there. So, yes, you can create an environment in which you are happy by choosing the decor, the wall hangings, the music, the movies, etc. that would not be there without you taking volitional action to satisfy yourself. And this is a very important thing to do -- to surround yourself with your values.

But the original question was: Is leisure productive?

You were being productive to set up your personal environment. But are you being productive by enjoying it? In the sense that you are intentionally creating a state of mind, I think you could say yes, because you had to do something in order to reach that state of mind. You had to put on the CD of your favorite music, let's say, to reach that state of unbridled happiness that listening to it brings to you. So, in that sense, you created the spiritual value of happiness.

I guess I'm back to square one with this one :huh:

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But the original question was: Is leisure productive?

I think most everyone needs to relax at some point during their schedule in order to maintain a higher level of effective productivity over the long term. Look at it this way, it would probably be very unproductive in the long haul NOT to relax ever. The body and the mind NEED to recover sometimes. One can only exert their body so much, and they can only stress their mind so much before they start to fatigue and lose focus on whatever productive endeavor they are pursing. We are not Duracell bunnies that keep going, and going, and going... :huh:

Relaxation helps sustain or maintain the ability to be more productive during your active efforts.

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Rephrasing the question just a bit: "Does recreation involve the creation of value ?" I think the answer becomes fairly obvious. What you are re-creating is your strength and vitality, which I would certainly classify as a value!

(The assumption being, of course, that we are talking about rational kinds and amounts of recreation.)

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(The assumption being, of course, that we are talking about rational kinds and amounts of recreation.)

I think this is crucial to the point of creating the spiritual value of happiness. You have to be actively pursuing that value, rather than just sitting around like a slob. If you are just sitting around doing nothing, not even thinking or enjoying something, say, on the passionate value level, then you aren't creating anything. I do agree, however, that relaxation -- maybe even just being lazy for a few days -- is crucial for one's long-term productive abilities. Sleep deprivation isn't going to get one anywhere, but I'd be hard-pressed to say sleeping is being creative, when one isn't even conscious. Likewise, if one is just being a couch potato and not focused on achieving anything -- not taking an active, conscious approach to even achieving the spiritual value of happiness, then I would say that is not being creative.

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If you are just sitting around doing nothing, not even thinking or enjoying something, say, on the passionate value level, then you aren't creating anything.

Agreed--and what's more, you are in fact being a net destroyer wealth in that case, since your body is still using nutrients, your electricity bill is still growing, your rent is still becoming due, and so on.

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Agreed--and what's more, you are in fact being a net destroyer wealth in that case, since your body is still using nutrients, your electricity bill is still growing, your rent is still becoming due, and so on.

Ideally, one ought to be pursuing values passionately on one's down time, but I do find it helpful to just relax sometimes -- in the sense of not accomplishing much, I just don't consider that to be creative. Sometimes, I just take a long nap, especially when I have something bothersome on my mind and can't resolve it. I generally find this refreshing, and when I wake up I go back to work on the problem. I tend to be thinking during all of my waking hours -- and sometimes I just need to rest. However, I do realize this is a net loss, but also that I pay for it willingly. An active consciousness needs to rest, as well as pursue the value of happiness. Some of the most creative people on earth -- such as Thomas Edison -- took cat naps throughout the day.

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Ideally, one ought to be pursuing values passionately on one's down time, but I do find it helpful to just relax sometimes -- in the sense of not accomplishing much, I just don't consider that to be creative. Sometimes, I just take a long nap, especially when I have something bothersome on my mind and can't resolve it. I generally find this refreshing, and when I wake up I go back to work on the problem. I tend to be thinking during all of my waking hours -- and sometimes I just need to rest. However, I do realize this is a net loss, but also that I pay for it willingly. An active consciousness needs to rest, as well as pursue the value of happiness. Some of the most creative people on earth -- such as Thomas Edison -- took cat naps throughout the day.

This is very different from just being a couch potato while being awake and not feeling sleepy, though. There is only so much work you can do within a day, so there is nothing destructive about not trying to do more. In fact, overworking yourself is precisely what is destructive--namely, destructive of your health.

I wasn't going to comment on the question of whether or not I consider sleep itself to be productive, since I think it's a marginal issue, but anyway, if we can't get away from it, here's my take: I wouldn't call sleep a productive activity, since it is not an activity in the first place (but rather a vegetative state). However, the decision to go to sleep, provided that you do actually need sleep, as well as any action you take to improve the quality of your sleep, are IMO productive actions.

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Sleep is essentially a maintenance activity. In an ideal world there would be very little maintenance, and certainly engineers strive for that. Of course we haven't figured out (yet) how to tinker with the design of the human body, so we are presently stuck with it.

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Of course we haven't figured out (yet) how to tinker with the design of the human body [WRT sleep], so we are presently stuck with it.

I wouldn't tamper with this too early, tempting as it might be. Even if some discovery comes along that seems to eliminate the need for sleep, it could have devastating consequences in the future, much akin to genetic engineering. I personally believe sleep is vastly underrated in today's world. It's not just "rest", they way one allows one's muscles to recover after a gym session. It is the rest of the brain, by far the most complex organ in existence.

It serves to reinvigorate the entire body, including the functions of the brain, both physiologically and psychologically. Apart from physical issues like cancer and such, you could somewhat compare the prospect of being awake all the time to living for a hundred thousand years. Ramifications?

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I wouldn't tamper with this too early, tempting as it might be. Even if some discovery comes along that seems to eliminate the need for sleep, it could have devastating consequences in the future, much akin to genetic engineering. I personally believe sleep is vastly underrated in today's world. It's not just "rest", they way one allows one's muscles to recover after a gym session. It is the rest of the brain, by far the most complex organ in existence.

It serves to reinvigorate the entire body, including the functions of the brain, both physiologically and psychologically. Apart from physical issues like cancer and such, you could somewhat compare the prospect of being awake all the time to living for a hundred thousand years. Ramifications?

Living for a hundred thousand years? I dunno, that doesn't sound so bad in itself. Of course, if it means a hundred thousand years as a geriatric case, then it doesn't sound very appealing. But if it's a hundred thousand years in a good state of health, I'd take it without a second's hesitation.

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But if it's a hundred thousand years in a good state of health, I'd take it without a second's hesitation.

Ditto. The difference is that that experiment can be enjoyed and then terminated as one pleases, so to speak. Not so if one is suddenly afflicted by cancer, premature aging and psychological problems because the newfangled "solution" to the problem of sleeping didn't quite get everything right.

Edited by L-C

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I personally believe sleep is vastly underrated in today's world. It's not just "rest", they way one allows one's muscles to recover after a gym session. It is the rest of the brain, by far the most complex organ in existence.

There are also indication that sleep or dreams are a part of how the brain stores long term memories.

BTW sleep is a complex phenomenon that involves several stages or states of consciousness, during which the brain remains active, only in a different way. The brain never stops working. Of course no organs in the body ever really stop working, though some have different workloads throughout the day. Oh, sleep also serves as rest for the heart. as I understand it, heart rate and respiration drop to their lowest levels during the deepest stages of sleep.

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Technically, no, relaxation is not a means of production. However, since we are human and we must rest and relax, it is a necessary component of being able to work. We have to sleep, it's in our nature, so the attempt to continue to work against that nature and not sleep is counter-productive and will decrease your productivity. Likewise for relaxation, which is necessary because by our nature even concentrating on a mental project for too long a period at a time will become counter-productive.

The virtue of productiveness does not imply that one must be hard at work on something productive 24/7 without periods of rest and relaxation. Get your rest so you can be more productive, and try to enjoy your downtime.

I would argue that forms of relaxation are also productive as well; taking going for a walk, I find that if I am doing an assignment, if I go and relax by taking a walk I can clear my head and logically think through the problem; thus mixing relaxing with production :dough:

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