Embracing Uselessness: A New Perspective on Note-Taking and Living


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 31, 2023

3 min read


Embracing Uselessness: A New Perspective on Note-Taking and Living

In a world that values productivity and usefulness above all else, it can be easy to get caught up in the pursuit of constantly recording and organizing information. We are taught that note-taking is essential for success, that it is the key to knowledge management and productivity. But what if we challenge this notion? What if we explore the idea of embracing uselessness, both in our note-taking systems and in our lives?

The concept of uselessness may initially seem counterintuitive or even absurd. However, when we delve deeper into the philosophy of Zhuangzi, an ancient Daoist thinker, we discover a profound wisdom that encourages us to let go of the pressure to constantly be productive and instead find fulfillment in simply being.

Zhuangzi argues that usefulness itself should not be the bottom line of our lives. He believes that we should not reduce ourselves to tools that serve others or the economy. Instead, he invites us to celebrate the beauty of existence and embrace a more organic approach to living and note-taking.

When it comes to note-taking, we often rely on elaborate systems that prioritize organization and efficiency. However, this can lead us to record information based on preexisting criteria rather than what truly resonates with us. The most impactful writing and ideas come from synthesizing the unarticulated in the present moment. Instead of reaching for our databases, Zhuangzi encourages us to channel what is in the air at this very second, to trust our natural salience filter.

By keeping our note-taking systems as elementary as possible, we can prevent the act of note-taking from becoming the main focus of our endeavors. It is not that note-taking itself is discouraged. Rather, it is about finding a balance and allowing ourselves the space to be present and receptive to what organically sticks to our minds.

In our pursuit of usefulness, we often overlook the importance of enjoyment and self-fulfillment. Zhuangzi reminds us that it is perfectly fine to simply be. We don't always need to strive for usefulness; sometimes, it is essential to take a step back and find joy in the present moment. By rejecting the notion of use altogether, we can break free from the confines of societal expectations and live more harmoniously with nature.

So how can we apply this philosophy of uselessness to our lives and note-taking practices? Here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Embrace spontaneity: Instead of rigidly adhering to a note-taking system, allow yourself the freedom to follow your intuition and capture what truly resonates with you in the moment. Trust that your natural salience filter will guide you to the most meaningful insights.
  • 2. Prioritize enjoyment: Remember that life is not solely about being useful to others or achieving external goals. Take the time to engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, both in your personal life and your note-taking process. Let go of the pressure to constantly produce and simply enjoy the process of exploration and discovery.
  • 3. Reassess your values: Take a step back and reflect on whether your current pursuits align with your true self and what gives you energy and vitality. If life-changing events prompt you to reevaluate your priorities, embrace them as opportunities for growth and self-discovery. Remember that you are not just a tool in the building of a larger project; you are a glorious part of the greater Universe.

In conclusion, the philosophy of embracing uselessness challenges the prevailing notion that productivity and usefulness should be the driving forces behind our note-taking systems and lives. By incorporating Zhuangzi's wisdom, we can find a new perspective that values presence, enjoyment, and self-fulfillment. Let us celebrate the gnarly trees and disabled bodies, recognizing the beauty in diversity and the freedom that comes from embracing a life of wandering and play.

Hatch New Ideas with Glasp AI 🐣

Glasp AI allows you to hatch new ideas based on your curated content. Let's curate and create with Glasp AI :)