PSA: You cannot PDF your way to happiness.
Okay, so PDFs in and of themselves are not the villain here. Nor are the people who create them. A beautifully, conscientiously-created piece of content in the form of a PDF can be a beacon, a touchstone, even a dear friend.
No, what I’m talking about here is the act of PDF-ing, the verb, not the noun, which is admittedly in need of definition:
To PDF: the act of saying yes to an excessive number of free digital items, often in the form of a PDF - usually containing small pieces of content or exercises - even though we don’t consciously need them, and hoarding.
A bit more colourfully…
Have you heard the idea that in a recession, or depression, luxury lipstick sales go up? Referred to as the Lipstick Effect, this phenomenon has been proven to be mostly anecdotal, but it serves us here nonetheless. It’s a simple way to understand that people ‘do behaviours’ to comfort themselves, sometimes intentionally, sometimes as a reflex. What we’re talking about here is the reflex part.
When we do things as a reflex, it means we’re doing something under the radar of our own consciousness.
We do it, but in the moment, we don’t realize we’re doing it. And we certainly aren’t thinking about why.
And that’s the reason for the PSA. When we’re doing something unconsciously, we’re missing the message.
Whether we compare it to the way you pace the stage as a speaker, how you say “I’m fine” in response to your best friend, or the way you shake your leg when you sit waiting for the doctor, collecting PDFs has become the digital nervous tick of the online personal growth community.
Nervous ticks are great teachers.
I bet someone out there is measuring our collective PDF tick, actually. I feel sure there’s an increase in people opting in for things in the middle of the night - humanity’s latest way of releasing some tension.
But as energy and emotional bandwidth become increasingly precious, we can let our collective ‘reaching for a PDF’ tell us it’s time to actively soothe ourselves in a more nourishing way. This then becomes an act of emotional leadership.
What are you hoping the PDF will give you? Could it be a sense of freedom from fear about the topic? How about a sense of relief at having saved a resource for later, like a squirrel in the fall? Something else?
Consider getting that need met in a conscious way. It’s a better road to happiness than a PDF.