David Heinemeier Hansson

August 8, 2023

The curing value of creation

It's hard not to see your spirits lifted when you're part of bringing something to life. Be that a product, an organization, or a community, or all three at once. Like exercise, it's one of those rare avenues of human endeavor that almost invariably will make anyone feel better. And, also like exercise, the hard part is getting started when you need it the most!

That's the curious chasm between knowledge and action. As much as you may know that regular, high-intensity training of the body does wonders for the mind, summoning the motivation to follow through with a commitment to working out only gets harder and harder the more you need it. I've had periods in my life where being removed from meaningful acts of creation felt just the same way.

Those periods were especially depressing when they felt like a simulacra of creation. Being in a situation designed to mimic the motions of making, but bereft of any meaningful progress towards that end. The pretending of purpose. The appearance of collaboration. Without any thrust towards completion.

And just as how getting a positive streak of accomplishment going provides its own momentum to keep at it, so too does a negative streak of performative busyness. It pulls you back into the comfort of the mental couch, and hands you the bag of chips to soothe your nagging sense of uselessness. For every day you stay there, the harder it is to get up, so best to muster everything you got to escape the dulling inertia now.

Make something. Participate in something. Engage with someone. All of it might feel as unnatural as strapping on those running shoes after too long of a break, but once you're back to creating, the energy comes by itself.

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.