I’ve a friend who helps people plan and organize their lives so they can get greater impact, and he said to me recently that he’s encountering more and more clients who smoke pot recreationally. My friend isn’t a judgmental guy, so he doesn’t brow beat them or anything, but he’s asking his clients to consider the consequences of the drug. Now when my friend said this, I thought he’d start talking about how it’s a gateway drug and so forth, but that isn’t the warning he’s giving his clients. The warning he’s giving is that their habit is stealing their dreams. When they smoke pot, they are satisfied for the rest of the day, they are calm and mellow, they don’t feel like pursuing anything. So if they’re smoking a few times a week, then they are basically not productive a few days each week.
If you’ve read A Million Miles, you know that a great story, and for that matter a great life, can’t get started unless the protagonist wants something. And the thing they have to want must come from their core values, and it must be specific, and it must be difficult to accomplish. And so I’ve started wondering if our addictions and our habits weren’t keeping us from wanting better ambitions, and if by not wanting better ambitions, we aren’t being robbed of great and fulfilling stories and lives.
Things that bring us pleasure are often good. Scratch that, they are often great. But most of our addictions bring us extreme pleasure without the cost of conflict. Porn brings us pleasure without the conflict of relationship. Alcoholism brings us a release of stress without having to deal with our issues. Overeating (my personal favorite) reduces stress and robs us of our dreams, dreams that MUST cost us conflict.
In the workbook I’m creating for the Living a Better Story Seminar, I’ve added an exercise to the conflict section in which participants write down their addictions and habits and connect them directly to a false sense of instant gratification, thus stealing our dreams.
So the question I’m asking myself lately, is how are my habits robbing my dreams? When the credits roll in my life, when the story is over, will I have been numbed out to the pain of life, the pain that was asking me to seek help, find healing, or press forward toward a better ending?
So how are your addictions and habits robbing you of a better story?