Greetings from Joylight!
Chapter 2 – Positive Addiction – How anyone, weak or strong, can gain strength
Reference: The Boys of Summer, Roger Kahn (Book)
The chapter started by describing a major league baseball player George “Shotgun” Shuba and how he got his “natural” swing. When he was a young child, he decided on his own to improve his swing for a chance to be a major league ballplayer.
This is an extract: He swing the bat for a period of time, probably three or four months, on pure willpower, then slowly, with no awareness, he became addicted to this exercise.
If he missed swinging the bat he felt some kind of pain or misery or upset, perhaps some anxiety or guilt, some discomfort, which was sufficient to push him to do it every day. The classic signs of addiction were there.
|POSITIVE ADDICTION (PA)
|Increases mental strength
||Saps the strength from every other part of your life
|Enjoys the addiction but does not dominate his life
||Totally involved in the addiction
|Uses his extra strength to gain more love, more worth, more pleasure, more meaning, more zest from life in general
||Given up on finding love and worth
|Gains mental strength to help accomplish whatever he tries to do more successfully
||Satisfied completely to live for his addiction, to the exclusion of everything else.
|*** Especially valuable because it is a way in which anyone by himself can increase his strength
||Destructive because the addict has given up on human connections and has no other motivation in life.
|Not something you do all day long, only for a reasonable amount of time (ie. An hour/day)
||Occupies you practically all the time
|Feels lousy but does good
||Feels good but does harm
Advantages of PA
Every other way in which we gain strength depends on others, either for more love or more recognition, but no matter how lonely or how worthless you may be, if you can become positively addicted you can gain strength.
You can then use this strength to gain
more love and more worth.
If we could learn through positive addiction to break the vicious cycle of weakness, then anyone strong or weak, with no more friends or recognition than he or she now has, could become stronger.
Today I believe that meditation, transcendental or otherwise, is a form, albeit a mental form rather than a physical form, of positive addiction.
The PA State
What goes on within positive addicts’ minds feels extremely good, and this particular pleasure which when they experience it becomes extremely important to them, can’t be obtained easily or as well in any other way.
While the activity itself may be grueling or boring, it causes a pleasurable mental effect while it goes on, and often after that makes the whole experience so pleasing that it is addicting.
It is this state of mind, the process of letting your mind go, letting your mind spin free, the PA state of mind, that the exercisers reach indirectly and that the meditators are trying to reach directly. That is the core of positive addiction.
Whatever the state of positive addiction is, it is almost always easier to reach it if you decide to do whatever you do on your own.
The PA state is
a state of oneness,
not a group experience.
Conditions for PA to occur
Not all who attempt any potential PA activity like meditation or running will reach PA. One has to keep going a long time on faith.
Most PA activities are quickly beneficial whether or not the practitioner reaches the PA state of mind regularly. It feels good and it hurts when they stop.
It is significant that positive addiction, like all good things in life, is most open to people who
- have the strength to stick to it. It takes strength
- to make the commitment to yourself – and
- it really must be to yourself and not to someone else (personal initiative) to do your addictive thing
- for a sufficient period of time to reach PA.
It also maybe possible that the PA state cannot be reached by everyone in the same way.
Summary of PA
- A positive addiction is something that people choose to do, physical or mental.
- They believe it has some value for them, and it is something that they can do on their own. It is something they believe has enough worth to put about an hour a day into doing, perhaps in one period, usually in no more than two.
- It is something that they think they can become proficient in doing.
- It has an inherent value in itself so that they will stick to it long enough to reach the PA state. Which could take between 6-24months.
- Once they have reached PA it is easily recognized by the fact that if they attempt to stop the activity they suffer withdrawal, some sort of pain, discomfort, anxiety, or guilt that is satisfactorily relieved only by resuming the activity.
Quality of Non-Judgment
Reference: Game of Tennis, W.Timothy Gallwey (Book)
Gallwey attempts to teach his students not to criticize themselves. He claims that we have to learn to play an existential game, to take each shot for itself,
observing but not concerning ourselves
with where the last shot went,
good or bad.
We should try to develop a sense of detachment about everything except our immediate shot.
He says that when any good athlete is able to get himself into the “out-of-his-mind state” he is then able to play an almost perfect existential or Zen game.
Melissa Hayden, a ballet dancer, described that the PA state of the mind flows with the body.
He then plays over his head because he is out of his head.
The ability to become non-self-critical and at the same time try to improve (which seems to be, but in Zen is not, a contradiction in terms) is a crucial factor that makes it possible to reach the PA state regularly enough to become positively addicted.
Therefore I believe that for anyone to go “out of his mind”, to let his brain spin free in whatever activity he is in, physical or mental, he must learn to engage in the activity in a non-self-critical way.
Not only must we not compete with others, we must learn not to compete with ourselves if we wish to reach the PA state. That means even as we try to improve we must be careful not to criticize ourselves in the process.
Only if he can learn to relax and flow along, to accept himself in what he is doing, to have confidence, will he eventually improve and be able to reach PA.
How we criticize ourselves, however, is vitally important because we must learn to direct our criticism at those activities which it is possible to correct: otherwise we will be too hard on ourselves and may lock ourselves into failure.
In most instances there are ways you can improve if you are strong enough not to let the pain push into irrational acts. The beautiful part of positive addiction is that whatever it is we ordinarily don’t need it.
It is an extra we choose to do.
It is still important to have at least one activity that is ours, in which we can accept ourselves completely. We may not reach PA but we will get a great deal of welcome peace and relaxation that we all need.
Love and PA
While in a good love relationship we should and usually do experience the PA state, I don’t believe many of us experience it consistently enough or long enough for it to be addicting.
There is a difference between a pleasurable biopsychological need and an addiction, and love and sex are much more the former than the latter.
Love isn’t addicting because love between mortals rarely exists for any period of time without criticism, which almost always results in self-criticism, usually quite a bit.
In the beginning of love there are usually traces of the PA state which add a pleasure component over and above what we ordinarily experience, and in any good relationship it continues to occur on special, warm occasions but never on a regular enough basis to reach addiction.
It is almost impossible to become addicted to any activity that is in any way judged by others. One can have long and deep relationships yet not reach addiction.
Positive addiction in all its existing forms, it will be something you do alone. It does not depend on others.
Review by Joy Leng
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Thanks for reading.
*** The most important relationship you will ever have in your life is with yourself. I dare you to take on the Self Compassion 7 Days Challenge. Let’s start flexing our self-love muscles. Are you in or out?
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‘Empowering heart-centered women since 2005’
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