By Janie Carter
We are all experience junkies – and our drug is life.
That’s why we’re here – to experience life. Sorry, but we aren’t here to work in a job we hate for financial security, or sit mesmerised by the The Kardashian’s on a big screen, or tell our kid’s off for being too rowdy for shrieking with joy.
We are here to experience and create – in fact that is the only way evolution occurs – through our innate spontaneous and impulsive actions driven by love and the sheer joy of living!
Sound like you?
I didn’t think so.
We see glimpses of this instinctive driving force in our children – they are vibrant, dynamic, moving effortlessly from experience to experience. One minute they are running around the yard with the dog screaming, the next they are building a lego plane, the next they are quietly making a tent out of blankets, then they are suddenly bawling their eyes out because they stubbed their toe, then they are off again giggling and playing some made-up game with the neighbour’s kid. (Well they used to be. Now they are more likely to be glued to a screen, but that’s another story).
Then our culture gets hold of them – we tell them they have to grow up, be responsible, control themselves, follow the rules. The things they love to do – dance, run, draw, laugh, build, sing – become “bad” when we tell them they have to “behave”, and then later we tell them they will never be able to make a “living” from what they love to do and they need to think about a “career” instead.
Every part of their being aches for experience, for newness, for creativity and we take it all away from them and tell them it’s wrong and a waste of time. We take them from a life of ecstasy and set them up for a life of suffering… because that’s what WE had to do. We ALL went through this process as we grew up.
Our doctors tell our kids they have ADHD or OCD. As adults we are told we have depression, anxiety, split personality, we are manic-depressive… but the label doesn’t really matter. At their core these “conditions” are all really just the suppression of our addiction to experience LIFE.
But isn’t being an addict “bad” you ask? It depends. Our addictions can be either creative or destructive.
Let’s start with destructive addictions.
Destructive addictions are the ways we seek pleasure, sensory stimulation and/or novel experience that negatively impact ourselves, others and/or the world.
When we are told to follow the rules and get a job we have no choice but to suppress our deepest yearnings and desires. And because that driving force for experiencing life is a core need, we eventually turn to something more socially acceptable (or not so socially acceptable) to get our “high” – we turn to food for its sensory pleasure, fast cars, shopping, gambling, bullying others, alcohol, drugs – whatever gives us that experience we crave. Give me anything, anything but boredom!
What are you addicted to? How do you get the pleasure from life that you crave? The pleasure that you are in fact designed to seek?
Whereas creative addictions are those that put us in a flow state, where time stops existing, where we are fully in the moment. Read the biographies of any genius, philosopher, activist, artist, saviour and a similar theme arises – whatever made them famous was created from a flow state. Creative addictions change the world for the better and impact ourselves and others in a positive way.
Creative addictions feel like a calling, an impulse you cannot deny – it might be painting, writing, singing, acting, learning, teaching, athleticism, gardening, enjoying, problem-solving, thinking, composing, designing, observing – the options are endless and it will be unique to you.
I am currently addicted to sprint training, walking while I listen to podcasts, learning about quantum biology, building databases and writing articles (this week anyway!). These things put me into a flow state and I believe they are adding value to the world so they are creative addictions. I will pursue these impulses as a priority because if I don’t I am suppressing the life force that guides the expression of my gifts… and then I might find myself falling back on destructive addictions like I used to do (I used to be a gym junkie and a social alcoholic…).
So what destructive addiction can you replace with a creative obsession?
What did you use to love doing when you were younger? What do you yearn to do but think you can’t? What impulse do you hold back out of fear?
What might happen to your life if you embrace your addiction or obsession and allow yourself to experience it?
If you were able to write that book, start that company, sing that song, live that dream, do you think that maybe the destructive addictions might disappear into the background because they aren’t needed anymore? Maybe your emotional eating will subside, maybe your depression will lift, maybe your online betting account won’t get used anymore. And imagine how much happier you would be!
Let your creative addictions and obsessions heal you!