Imagine you won the biggest bet of your life on the same day you fell madly in love with the most beautiful person you had ever met. And after a $1000 dinner, you wash down the most decadent chocolate confection imaginable with a $500 bottle of wine before returning to an opulent suite for the best sex of your life. Falling asleep that night, the euphoria breaking over you is overwhelming.
How lucky and successful you’ve become.
Next morning, you wake up in your tiny apartment and that bliss is as far gone as your lover and the check you’d left on the nightstand.
What do you do now?
Place your last $100 on a 50/1? Book a one way flight to Sweden to find your soulmate? Sell your car for a down payment on a yacht?
Most of us understand that nearly any habit isn’t too bad in small doses. It’s when it becomes your everything, the only thing you can think about, that’s when it’s concerning. When you trade in kale and salmon for nothing but deep-fried twinkies, might just be time for an intervention.
Clearly that’s not a healthy or sustainable way to nourish your body. What about your soul?
We know that addiction to gambling, alcohol, drugs, even sex can all be catastrophically detrimental to mental health. But what about money in and of itself? Isn’t that the hallmark of success?
Many a Facebook ad would have you believe that the only way to tell that your business is succeeding is to reach consistent five-figure months and six-figure years (overlooking that they claim to know how to get these and still need your four-figures). It is driven into our minds that success, and its promise of happiness, are caught up in money, fame, status, power… Intense though fleeting pleasures. Hedonic aims. They can consume us and force us to neglect our eudaimonic well-being, what feels our soul and supports us in reaching our full potential. We stop sleeping, stop eating properly, stop creating for the sake of expression as all our energy bleeds into getting more of the symbols we call success. More pleasure we equate with happiness. If you do start to make a lot of money, it’s never enough. You need more, more, more to feed an emptiness you can’t explain. And so you pour your profits into items that prove status and substances to numb the ache until you wouldn’t know happiness if it did arrive. Because like a bag of drive-thru tacos, insipid pleasure will never feel good for long unless you’re nourishing your soul as well.
In future posts, we’ll delve into what Aristotle had to say about the distinction between what he called apparent and real goods and how one can become the other as well as movements like KonMari and their reaction to that. We’ll also examine what Schopenhauer’s boredom-pain pendulum has to add to the conversation.
For now, it is enough to know that we need a balance of both. When you feel you’re loosing steam or passion, it is time to re-evaluate the overall focus of your goals in the same way you’d become concerned if you couldn’t fall asleep without a fistful of pills or half a chocolate cake.
This weekend, I’d like for you to take half an hour. Sit down and write out a list of the ten things you most want in life right now. Then think carefully about each one and the motivation behind it.
How many could keep you happy for more than one night? More than a year? How many could last a lifetime?
If it’s less than half, maybe now is time to make a change.
Let’s get you back on a well-being diet for the health of your soul.
If you’ve read this far, thank you so much for joining me on this expedition. Please let me know if you have any questions or requests for posts by leaving a comment or send me on a DM on the social media platform of your choice any time.
Auf wiedersehen until we meet again!