We all normally view addictions in a morally bad light, which makes sense given the context of our perspectives. But, all addictions are always asserting their almost mystical power over your life and mine, for all the good and bad that happens to us. There are many magical properties of our human nature that we can rationalize to help us comprehend and perform more consciously, and one of them being our addictions.
Understanding Addictions -
By addictions, I mean our actions, our obsessions, our interests, and everything that ends up defining our personal lifestyle and culture. So, here, I’m using the word addictions in a morally neutral context or completely amoral, which can either be practically good or bad depending on the addictions.
Whether we like it or not, we all have lots of addictions that we cycle through depending on the stages of our life. Listening to a certain genre of music, reading, watching movies & TV shows, eating, sleeping, exercising, writing, practicing, working, mindlessly browsing Social Media or many TV channels, complaining, cursing, helping others, smoking, drinking, snorting crack, running, studying, experimenting, learning, smoking pot, praying in a religious place of your choice, partying, cultural rituals, eating sugary foods, meditating, gossiping/rumor-mongering, cooking, helping people, fighting, et cetera, are all some common examples of addictions found in humans all around our planet.
The wide range of my above examples should clarify that almost everything we do is an addiction and that by itself is neither just good nor always bad. Our human minds are always looking for things to obsess over passionately, even when we don’t consciously recognize or acknowledge it. We can joke about how our human nature with its undisciplined monkey mind always gets distracted, impatiently moving from one shiny object to another. Maybe this can be a good thing when we consciously recognize it and responsibly take charge like a Captain steering a ship crewed by all the internal monkeys of our mind. This metaphor can work well even if we are a Captain as adventurous and chaotic as the legendary Jack Sparrow. We cannot control the flow of the winds, but we sure can steer the ship by channeling the fight we’re capable of raging.
Gaming the Existential Chaos -
A deeper look at our minds’ innate need for obsessions can lead to existentialism, mainly down the rabbit-hole of Friedrich Nietzsche. When he philosophically attacked all deterministic structures like religion and political ideologies, his work was easily interpreted by lazy slackers as nihilism to suit their excuses in life. I realize Nietzsche was digging at something much bigger, deeper, and meaningfully serious. His concept explains deterministic structures as a crutch used to bear the weight of existential problems of defining the greater things that cannot be understood; unless retorting to the lazy yet mentally comforting explanations of deterministic structures.
Like it or not, every sentient and functioning human being depends on such existential crutches on a daily basis to stay sane, stable, and perform well in our activities. When we understand this without any moral connotations, it opens doors to meaningful and useful ways to take charge to practically handle ourselves well on our own terms. We’ve all heard the phrase we are what we eat or we are what we consume. Similarly, we are what we do. Or better yet, we are what we’re addicted to.
A funny thing about addictions is that it doesn’t matter whatever useful or harmful act we want to be addicted to, as the only thing that matters is the things we actually are addicted to at the moment despite our intentions, wants, or justifications. The grim and negative side of positivity and optimism can be in the form of wishful thinking without practically doing anything good. That can lead any good intended emotions down a spiral of decay and destruction, unless we act on the good starting with the most practically important person to all of us – Ourselves. This can seem selfish, but we’ve all heard about how a drowning person cannot save anyone else. The sentiment applies to everything. Words like fair, just, and deserve are a problem here, as the universe in its natural, scientific, and rational state is indifferent to all known sentient beings. Nobody cares about how things should be, we just are the things we do.
The power to choose and assign our own values and act freely usually results in irresponsibility that harms both ourselves and those around us. That’s because irresponsibility and willful ignorance is almost always the easiest option for all humans, me and you alike in many situations when we let it happen. Yet this same power of choice might be a human superpower if used responsibly and consciously. It’s an act of boldness, but one done numerous times by many human beings throughout all regions and times, to game the constantly distracted monkeys of our minds and bend the existential chaos to our will with fierce courage by fighting brutally to choose our own addictions.
Identities and Beliefs -
We’ve all familiar with the phrase we do what we believe, but in a technical sense the inverse is more useful – we believe what we do. A fundamental aspect of human nature is that we morally justify everything we do by interpreting everything to suit our own agendas. The ego is usually blamed for this, but that only clarifies us being slaves to our egos. And again, the inverse can be more useful, – controlling our egos to be practically useful like our slaves within our psyche. Our egos are always raging with virtually unsatisfiable hunger, and that is their natural state to show the ego is alive. That rage, like any fuel or fire, can be channeled aptly through consciously and bravely fighting it and directing all that energy towards what we really need to be doing.
A lazy person believes the truth that they’re lazy and useless, which leads to spirals of misery. A hateful person views everything with misdirected rage and hate, which poisons themselves and others around them by practically reinforcing their values of hate. A musician who practices every day will end up believing they are a musician and that reinforcement will lead them further along their path. An athlete who trains every day will gradually see results, progressing further in their chosen sport, and reasserting their beliefs that they are an athlete. A religious person who does their daily prayers, regular rituals & customs, views everything in their world through their religion’s perspective and lives their life along the rules of their religion, thus reinforcing their identity as a follower of their religion.
Beliefs by themselves are meaningless figments of ever-changing delusions. Whereas, a belief earned through repeated actions aka addictions will reaffirm the obsession, and make it real with the satisfaction of experiencing it on a metaphysical level, giving our psyche a more than physical feel of it, thus confirming it beyond doubt. This imprints our identity with our beliefs earned through our addictions.
Many instantly pleasurable but self-destructive addictions of humanity can lazily be branded as hedonistic with a surface level glance. The technicalities of it are surprisingly the same as every other addiction. They are existential crutches used to handle the anxieties, stresses, tensions, pain, chaos, and doubts that none of us want to face as they aren’t happy things. But facing them voluntarily with practical solution-oriented willpower is the only way to avoid bigger problems.
If all addictions are nothing but a coping mechanism for life, it would be a morally stupid choice to run towards the hedonistic, easily pleasurable addictions just because they don’t take any effort. No pain, no gain, right? The satisfaction of the struggle, the intense daily combat with ourselves, to control and direct our egos in the direction that practically benefits us, can redirect our coping mechanisms to a higher plane of pleasure by voluntarily choosing the addictions we need. The entirety of our lives and each day is defined by our addictions, for better or for worse.
(Yep, obviously, this whole article is just a philosophical exploration about habits. I’ve used the word addictions instead of habits as they are practically the same thing.)
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