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Keith Tse


  • Writer's pictureKeith Tse

Dread or fun: change in perspective

Two antonyms: dread and fun. One would not expect to use or see them in the same sentence, given that they mean totally opposite things. Nonetheless, I have discovered a subtle and interesting link between these two diametrically opposite concepts that has proven to be quite inspiring. One of the main reasons for our procrastination is our dread. We dread the size and magnitude of the task(s) at hand. We dread the time and effort needed to get them done. We dread the energy, both physical and mental, that is required of us to face the mammoth task(s) ahead. With our dread comes fear which is a terrible agent of mental and physical paralysis that works to numb us of all our emotions and drain us of all our energy. We become shells of our normal selves, mere shadows of our talent and ability, and it requires a huge amount of courage and effort to motivate ourselves to finally get going, by which time a lot of time may have been lost. Contrast this to something that we have always longed to do, let it be purchasing a new smartphone, shopping for a nice brand of clothing, going to the theatre etc. We would tend to experience the very opposite of dread, namely excitement, since these are things that we have always wanted to do, and as excitement energises us, we only feel more motivated to do these things that we love. The sad reality of it all, however, is that things that we love tend to be superfluous whereas things that we dread are usually things that we must do, whether we like it or not, and even if we absolutely do not want to, we still need to summon a huge amount of energy to kickstart our engine and somehow propel us forward towards that dark and murky destination that we probably have no interest in going, which is contrast to our favourite restaurant/cinema/shopping mall etc.

Imagine this: what if we swapped dread with fun? What if the things that we really do not want to do also happen to be quite fun? It sounds like a sadistic paradox, since why would we feel resentful towards doing things that we considered fun? However, while we dread things for all kinds of demoralising reasons, it does not mean that the task(s) in question cannot be fun to do, at least in my world where I am constantly faced with highly complex, technical tasks that are extremely intimidating but, from another perspective, also quite fun. I was just sorting out some photo albums, something that I had long dreaded to do since I had several thousand photos on my iCloud and I anticipated it to be really tedious and complicated to sort all of them out. The most difficult part was getting started, and once I got started, it was still a real handful and it did not really get easier as I got into it, even though I did get the hang of it with the passing of time. However, the more I got into it, the more I came to appreciate the fun of it all, since I gradually came to realise that sorting out photos, difficult and complicated though it was, could actually be rather fun. I am biased towards sorting out my own photos since I got quite emotional going through all those old photos taken of/by me years ago, wonderful moments of recollection that plucked my heartstrings, and I naturally wanted to walk down memory lane and keep going, which probably would not have applied if I had been sorting out some random photos of people/things that I had no interest in. Nevertheless, I was still pleasantly surprised to discover that a task that I had dreaded for so long could turn out to be so fun. All I needed was a shift in perspective and this previously much dreaded task would turn out to be so different. It is all a matter of perspective, which, as they say, ‘it is all in the mind.’ On this I could not agree more.

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