The Real Reasons I Do The Things I Love

by | Oct 1, 2019 | Stories

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 felt compelled to smoke weed until I became 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, why am I always so stressed?

Almost all 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 record all of my sessions to track my progress toward my specific goals 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 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, which 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 briefly before you crave 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 that 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, 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 my accomplishments, I always felt like something was wrong with me.  The feeling that something was always 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 was 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 have.  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 award, 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 what 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.

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 do it.  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 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 of your life.  Pay no mind to whether anyone reads it.  Write because you have to.  Write because it saves your life.
  • Read because you enjoy it and because it enriches your life.  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.  Many of the most valuable lessons you’ve ever learned came from books.
  • 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 that what you eat 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 is the authentic connections you make with people; the only way to get those is by being authentic.

Read more stories by Eddie.
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