When you have a moment over the holidays, I ask you to watch this talk, uninterrupted from start to finish. If it doesn’t alter the course of your life, then I am sorry, but I can assure you that the information within has already altered the way I think, the way I want to think, the way I want to be, act, and how I want to influence my children. I believe it will have a similar impact on you.
For whom is this talk relevant? If you live in the information age and want to live in it, in control, not controlled by it, if you have children and want them to grow up as independent, physically, mentally and emotionally healthy adults capable of contributing to society, if you are a kid and especially if you are a Millennial, then this is one talk that I believe offers the insight into the obstacles you are encountering and pose a direct threat to your health, your well-being, to your success in life.
Transcript (video time from 5:29 to 7:05mins):
“Alcohol, nicotine, gambling all release dopamine, its why they feel good and its why almost all addictions are dopamine based addictions. We also know that almost all alcoholics discovered alcohol when they were teenagers. You see when we are very very young the only approval we need is the approval of our parents. Then when we go through adolescences we make this transition where we now need the approval of our peers. Very frustrating for our parents, very important for us, but it allows us to acculturate outside of our immediate families and to the broader tribe. It is a time of high stress and high anxiety and we are supposed to learn to rely on our friends. Some people – quite by accident – discover alcohol and the numbing effects of dopamine, and unfortunately that connection becomes hardwired. Then for the rest of their lives every time they face significant stress they don’t turn to a person, they turn to the bottle. Now as I said before, we know that social media and smartphones release dopamine. We have age restrictions on alcohol, we have age restrictions on tobacco, we have age restrictions on gambling, but we have no age restrictions on social media and smartphones. Its as if an entire generation is going through adolescence and their parents have thrown open the liquor cabinet and have said “try the vodka, it’ll help you get through the teenage years.” That is what social media and smartphones do.”
“Understanding the Game We’re Playing” by Simon Sinek
A few points on addiction…
- The issue is not whether or not we are addicts: if you are alive, then your nervous system functions and depends on the neurotransmitter dopamine, and as a byproduct of the addictive qualities of dopamine, everyone by default has the potential to be an addict, as addictive tendencies are innate to us all. The addictive tendency of any individual is the outcome of how they live out their core beliefs: core beliefs are expressed through the narratives they have written and repeated to themselves (consciously and subconsciously), and the behaviour patterns and habits they repeat and which rule their day, programming their physiological and psychological states (hence their ‘addictive-ness’).
- To be addicted to exercise is no different than being addicted to anything else, the only difference is that society approves of an addiction to exercise, just as smoking and domestic violence were once socially acceptable addictions. Just because society approves of it, doesn’t mean its right, or that its healthy. You may want to consider the fact that the collective we is known to change its minds rather frequently as to what is ‘in’, what is right, what is healthy.
- Any addiction, every addiction is unhealthy, because by the definition of addiction it is to live unbalanced. The immediate impact of an addiction to exercise may be positive: weight loss, fitness gains, but if the addiction grows, then where does the addiction end? Body image issues, eating disorders, winning at any cost… where does the it end? Lance Armstrong once was a role model, til his addiction overtook him. Lance Armstrong was an hero, then he wasn’t. There is no clear line in the stand, so no one, not one person has the ability to honestly state that they are in control when living addicted. The delusion of addiction is control: all addicts are ‘in’ control, that is until they aren’t.
- I would encourage you to live healthy, by living in control, living in balance. I would encourage you to model for your children a life of balance, a life of control, so that they can grow up having experienced parents living in control. It is rather convenient to want your children to be ‘in control of their lives’, but for you to live a life of reckless abandon.
- To live in balance, requires retraining daily behaviours, and rewriting narratives which are the lens’ through which we see life. Simple? Yes. Easy? Absolutely not. Worth it? You cannot even begin to imagine how worth it, it is.
A few points on gambling…
- When the term gambling is used, most will think of a casino, a poker table, or the slots. These are indeed forms of gambling, but ‘games’ are not the only form of gambling. The way we drive can be a form of gambling: barrelling down the highway at excessive speeds, cutting off drivers, perhaps with a drink or two in us to lubricate our thirst for risk. The way we handle ourselves professionally, we gamble with our licence, our ability to practice, to conduct business. Ever heard of ‘ER or PR’? What healthy adult of sound mind risks hospitalization in pursuit of a finish line t-shirt, medal, or selfie? Excessive insanely intense exercise performed in an attempt to burn extra calories, or to achieve an outlandish and unrealistic finish line goal are also forms of gambling… this time with your health, your life.
- Want to function at a higher level? Want to explore your potential, in business life, in home life, in sport? Then it starts with an honest appraisal of how you are living today. Addicted? Addicted to socially acceptable, so-called healthy addictions, or addicted to social no-no’s? Doesn’t matter, its all the same, just painted with a different brush stroke.
- There is another path. It will likely require starting over, unlearning old ways, old habits, but the path – unlike that of addiction, of gambling – has no limits, because at no point does it risk you, your health or your life.
On being an athlete…
- If you are addicted to sport, to exercise, to fitness, to smoothies and protein powders, to watts on a power meter, to a fitness app or tracker, to split times, to spreadsheets with data points tracking results, then I can assure you and can guarantee that you are not on the path that leads to your vast potential that is waiting to be unearthed.
- Champions, consistent peak performers are in love with freedom, the freedom to move, to explore, to play, to learn, to have fun, to enjoy the hidden potential of their body and mind when unleashed from all earthly addictions.