The Many Versions Of The Mind As Muscle

Originally I wanted to explore my relationship to the protestant work ethic issues I posted about yesterday, because I remember and have modelled things I do after a quote I vaguely remember to be like this:

The mind is a muscle that needs no rest, only change.

When I tried to find that version of the quote and its originator, I was instead confronted with the fact that there are many, many versions of the second half, everything after “that”. Most of them are Pinterest/Twitter style hustle porn, vague grand aspirational statements with no context, nuance, or purpose other than to maek you feel bad about yourself for not trying harder.

The reason I find it so interesting that 1) I could not find the quote I actually had in mind and 2) That everything else was the same generic hustleporn was that the above quote actually works for me. I can spend a few hours doing one thing and then switching to another mentally demanding thing and usually that is refreshing. This, too, breaks down when resource exhaustion enters the picture, but usually this is good enough. However, when it inevitably breaks down, it’s another bludgeon that feeds into the Protestant Guilt for not doing more.

A conversation on Twitter1 that played into this as well was about how modern work social-standards dictate that we spend most waking hours thinking about work, doing some form of work, or taking one of the necessary breaks to prevent us from going insane from work so we can then do more work. The quote that has worked quite well for me is squarely fucked in this context, and it’s given me cause to retire using it for myself in the future.

These sorts of attitudes are rather pervasive, and I’m pretty sure the aforementioned/posted Protestant Guilt about non-productivity is the result of a dozen little papercuts that accumulate.

I’ve been trying to find fun activities that are mentally challenging and deliberately not associating them with work. So far, we have some recreational programming projects, writing this notebook, and cooking/baking, going about them precisely as much or as little as I want to. I expect this unlearning process to take a whole while, but I’m happy to be doing it.

  1. No links or screenshots to respect the authors privacy.