Why addictions are not what you think and how to profit from them
Everybody is addicted to something and you can’t escape them. Whether that’s television, food, videogames, people, sports… the list goes on and on for the simple reason that we as animals, can be addicted to positive actions. Addictions are rewarding, they feel good and they quickly become a habit. Why?
There are tons of studies done on the stubject that I haven’t read so I’ll give you my honest opinion: addictions happen because they fill a gap in your life. What kind of gap can be addictive?
Simply take a look at all your emotions and you’ll quickly realize how addictions fulfill a feeling. Boredom, excitement, sadness, tiredness, emptiness. People take drugs to feel better, to fight their sadness and boredom among many other reasons.
The moment you confront those emotions and realize that they don’t control you, is the moment you begin changing to where you want to go. Obviously it won’t be simple because those are some deep rooted fixes that you’ve been applying for a long period of time, but it can be done.
It’s like taking a pill to fix your back pain. It won’t solve your problem but it can hide it quickly to make you feel as though it doesn’t exist when in reality, you have to fix the root cause: your posture. When it comes to bad addictions, you have to fix the way you deal with your emotions. That’s right, is not the emotions you feel that cause the problem, is how you respond to them. Here’s how you begin:
Start accepting discomfort. Whenever you want to start to work on business or on doing some kind of physical activity, you’ll feel that uneasiness so common in everyone of us. Don’t try to hide it, don’t try to escape it or silence it. Just stay in that exact situation until the intensity fades.
Just wait the discomfort out. It’s funny because you can confront very difficult subjects just by accepting that it will be uncomfortable at first and waiting until you’re ready. The emotion won’t dissapear but the intensity will be drastically reduced if you just wait in that situation. Alternatively, you can ignore it entirely and dive right into the cold water. Try different methods until you find the one that works for you.
Personally, I’ve been addicted to videogames since I was a kid at 7 years old. I started with the playstation 2 playing ratchet and clank, then I got into more serious games like call of duty and league of legends where I was dedicating a good 6 hour session each day on average. That means that I spent countless hours monthly having fun with these games on a selfish path for self-entertainment.
It was a lot of time wasted and fortunately I managed to control it more and more as I grew older. I even went months without considering playing games. I rewired myself to not have them in my everyday activites by following a simple plan…
I stopped following all game influencers on social media, specially youtube where I consumed many hours watching someone play whenever I wasn’t feeling it. Watching gameplays made me want to play at all times, which wasn’t good so I had to stop it by fixing my video feeds.
My influences affected my decision making process without me noticing it.
Then I followed a few other content creators that I thought were beneficial. Business people, ambitious individuals that are at the top of the world. There are tons of them out there search for recommendations and you’ll see.
I can’t tell you how much that benefited me because the effects are not visible but my entire perspective on life shifted. Videogames weren’t even in my vocabulary. All I thought was the advice I heard on those videos. I felt comfortable working a few hours a day on my business when years ago I was so distracted I couldn’t focus for a few minutes.
I was fighting addictions by not running from my feelings. Just by accepting them.
Quitting games wasn’t easy the first few days and weeks, I was constantly thinking about the subject because my life was setup in a way that makes addictions the easy choice.
Because here’s another key aspect of every addiction: in order to spend hours smoking, eating, doing drugs or addicted to something, you need to give yourself plenty of time and have money to spend in a decent place.
Meaning, addictions don’t happen by accident we work on making ourselves as comfortable as possible to execute them on a constant basis.
A person that is constantly working won’t have time to play games just like a person without any money won’t be able to do drugs. The problem lies when you have the environment setup in such a way where the easiest choice is to get addicted.
For example if you decline all the invitations to events from your friends, eventually you’ll too much time on your hands that you’ll innevitably spend on useless activies that get you addicted. I did this many times subconciously and let me tell you, I missed many great moments.
What do you think happened right after I stopped my games addictions? I immediately got addicted to something else. That something else was watching tv or social media simply because I had this massive void to fill and the closest thing was technology.
However there was an improvement. The addiction level was significantly lower, I felt more in control since I could just close the social media page at any point without major consequences. That allowed me to focus on doing great work. The “pull” was weaker.
Now the right way to approach breaking addictions is to fill that gap with new, positive addictions by trying all sorts of hobbies until you hit that one where you feel the most comfortable. Yes, addictions can be positive and they can benefit you. What kind of addictions are actually beneficial?
Workaholics are people that love working so much that they can’t stop, they are guaranteed to have enough money at all times. People addicted to sports feel stronger and think better. People addicted to making music eventually create masterpieces that impact the world. People that enjoy new experiences find themselves happier and better all-around persons.
Those that experience positive addictions took a simple activity and made it their main source of happiness. I can’t tell you exactly how they did it but I’m sure it started by doing it on a consistent basis.
I heard multiple times that addictions start from constant actions, meaning that if you eat a bar of chocolate each day, you will eventually upgrade your standards and each more than one bar until you end up with a serious health problem. Your normal level to fill statisfied increases which causes you to consume more.
The cycle goes from: normal everyday activity -> repeated daily with perfect consistency -> abuse of that activity because the effects are dimished -> bad effect on your health and on the people around you. That’s why you have you focus on consistency above eveything else when creating new habits.
In fact, I personally tried a great deal of sports over my life from karate, to swimming, volleyball and football but I only felt comfortable in one. You know why? Because I made friends there, people that I connected with very easily which allowed me to consistently spend that time doing karate, time that I wouldn’t have spent if it wasn’t for them and helped me create the positive addiction.
That’s the main reason I stuck for years doing that sport. The people that went there were amazing and we shared lots of common interests. If one day I didn’t want to go, I remembered that my friends were there and that they would feel bad for me not going. It’s common courtesy to not let your friend down and a powerful enough force to keep you parcitipating consistently.
It gets better than that. At some point I enjoyed going to high-school classes because I had so much fun with my classmates that I prefered to being at home doing nothing.
My point is this: you will be always addicted to something because it bring enjoyment, because it takes boredom away from your life or for other satisfactory reasons. However you have much more power to choose your addictions. You can change them by trying new things.
If a new activity doesn’t stick at first, don’t force it more than necessary. Find another place, another time to try other experiences until you connect. At the end the goal is to feel high on life, enjoying the majority of your time with people that share the same good energy.
Work on changing your environment. If you spend hours at home, practice new hobbies such as painting, playing an instrument, writing or cooking healthy food. Things that benefit you in the long run by producing something great instead of consuming.
If you don’t practice any sports yet, I highly recommend you to select a few that you enjoy and join a class where you’ll find people that you can relate to.
You’ll see that most times it will be a waste of time because the people there are just not on the same vibe as you, and that’s okay. Just keep going to different groups and you’ll eventually find one that will feel like home, so enjoyable that you’ll stick around for years like I did with karate.
To motivate you to take action towards a life filled with positive addictions, I want to lead by action so I just fixed my youtube subscriptions by unfollowing the most toxic channels and follwoing a bunch of crazy but interesting people that can help me change my perspective to a more ambitious life.
Here’s how you can do it too:
1. Go to your subscriptions manager here: https://www.youtube.com/subscription_manager
2. Unsubscribe from each youtuber that generates cheap content, content that is meant to entertain you without providing any value. Keep those that motivate you to do better, to experience more out life, to challenge yourself, to learn more and people that lift you up.
3. To find new valuable content creators by going to the channels of your favorite youtubers from the cleaned list and taking a look at the “Featured channels” sidebar at the right of each channel. It will show you similar people that you may never heard about before. Take this opportunity to follow the better ones.
Warning: don’t click on channels that you love just because they are very entertaining. The best ones are entertaining but focus on value, on teaching you something, on going beyond simple entertainment. Those are the ones you wanna follow.
If you normally use other sites such as facebook or twitter, do the same process to remove the people that don’t add value to your life and fill the gaps with new ones that improve you.
It’s a constant process where you’re adding and removing old people until you build a community that pushes you to the next level. Your influences are far more powerful than you can imagine because every thought, every decision, every action is affected by the people that communicate with you.
In summary, choose to be affected by greatness and become great yourself.
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Originally published at https://merunas.io on December 5, 2019.