Monday, September 30, 2019

The Real Reasons I Do The Things I Love

Last night I got sick to my stomach from smoking too much weed, cumulatively, over the past several weeks.  This was the second time this has happened to me, so I took some time to reflect on why this happened and why I feel compelled to smoke weed until I become violently ill.  The seven hours of vomiting must have given me a revelation, because now I see it crystal clear.

I smoke weed to relieve stress, and I am stressed almost all the time, which is why I was smoking a lot.  I used to think that I was stressed because I had jobs I didn't like, but I don't have that problem anymore.  I was fired from all the jobs I didn't like.  If I have any regrets about it, it's only that I didn't quit sooner.  So if I am free from all the jobs I didn't like, then why am I so stressed all the time?

Almost all of my waking hours are spent doing things I enjoy: reading, writing, training, meditating, business, food prep, drawing and playing the guitar.  I perform each of these activities on my own time, and I keep record of all of my sessions to track my progress towards specific goals I have for each activity.  My goals run my schedule, which is good.  But my goals were also running my emotions, which is bad.

After puking for seven hours last night, I realized that I have always measured my life by the goals I accomplished rather than by how much I actually enjoy my life.  The result was a person who was modestly accomplished, but completely unhappy.  My self-worth was always tied to fulfilling the goals I set out to accomplish, and that is why I always felt stressed.  When you tie your self-worth to accomplishments, you will always feel incomplete and you will always feel pressure to accomplish more.  The next carrot will only gratify you for a short time before you are craving another one.

Doing things for recognition, money or awards makes you a slave to them, even if you love the things you're doing.  You will grow to resent them and even hate them because you're doing them for the wrong reasons.  The only real reason to do anything is because you enjoy doing the activity.  The enjoyment is the end, in itself.  No awards.  No promotions.  No cameras.  No money.  Just you having fun.  If you start doing things for any reason other than fun, then they cease to be fun.  They become a chore - an obligation - something you resent.  This is true of all of your favorite activities, even sex.

Because I always measured myself by accomplishments, I always felt like there was something wrong with me.  The feeling that there was always something wrong with me drove me to addictive and abusive behaviors, like smoking too much weed.  Looking back on my life, I can see that all of my destructive behaviors were rooted in the feeling that something is wrong with me, and I always felt like something was wrong with me because I always measured myself by accomplishments (rather than by how much I was enjoying my life).

Even if you love what you do, you can still stress yourself into oblivion by focusing on how good you are rather than how much fun you are having.  Someone who does things for fun doesn't get stressed.  Not even when they are in contention for an award, bonus or promotion.  Why?  Because that's not why they do it.  Their self-worth isn't tied to it.  Someone who is truly doing something for fun doesn't give a shit if they ever win an Emmy, write a bestseller, go platinum or make it to the big leagues.

Puking my guts out last night made me realize that I was putting so much pressure on myself to be good at the things I was doing, that they were causing me great stress even though they were things I loved.  The kicker is that putting pressure on myself to be good at those things wasn't making me any better at them.  It was actually making me worse.  Putting pressure on myself was actually inhibiting me by adding stress, nervousness, anxiety (and even dread) to things I like doing.

With that said, I decided to recover from my over-smoking problem by getting back in touch with the real reasons I do the things I love.  I wrote them down so I don't forget.  Here they are:

  • Play your guitar because you have wanted to play it since you were a kid and because of how good it feels when you get in the groove of stringing notes and chords together to form songs.
    • Pay no mind to whether you ever play in a show or release an album.  Those things will happen when they are meant to, if they are meant to, and it's not your job to worry about them.  Your job is to play the guitar and have as much fun as possible doing it.

  • Train for your health and fitness.  Train for how good it makes you look and feel, and for the moments of peace you have after a hard workout.
    • Pay no mind to being a professional athlete, or trainer.  Pay no mind to making any money off of sports, whatsoever.

  • Write because it's the only way you've been able to make sense out of your life.  
    • Pay no mind to whether anyone reads it.

  • Read because you enjoy it and because it enriches your life.
    • Reading is not something you have to do to be a good writer.  It's an end, in itself.  It's something you have enjoyed since you were a kid and it is something that has continuously made your life better in pretty much every way.

  • Meditate because it brings you peace.  Meditation is the closest thing you have ever found to peace, so do it.
    • Don't do it to unlock superpowers.  Do it to make yourself feel good (which actually is a superpower, in itself).

  • Only engage in business activities you are excited about.  If you don't want to do it, then don't.  Period.

  • Prepare your food with love, attention and gratitude.  Take your time when eating and be conscious of the fact that what you are eating is a gift from the Earth so you can keep doing what you were put here to do.

  • Share your work in person and online because you love connecting with people and appreciating each others' work.
    • Pay no mind to amassing fans, followers and likes.  The only thing that matters are the authentic connections you make with people, and the only way to get those is by being authentic.