There are times when my life is perfect on paper – Ignited Leadership is running well, I’m spending good time with the people I care about, I’m taking care of my mental and physical health – and yet, I still end up feeling apathetic.
For a long time I had no clue why the hell this was happening. I figured that if I got most of the big things right, then I would just be happy. But that wasn’t the case.
Only recently have I discovered the problem: many of the things that are considered normal in our society are actually numbing agents.
These numbing agents – while harmless on their own and in small doses – collect around the edges of our lives and subtly instill apathy where there should be passion, lethargy where there should be vivacity.
Without realizing it, the numbing agents begin to zap our focus, our energy levels, our self-talk, our relationships, and ultimately, our happiness. What are these numbing agents? Well, the ones that many of us deal with to some degree or another are:
- Not getting enough sleep
- Watching too much TV
- Junk food
- Checking our phones when we are with other people
- Checking our social media, email, news, and phone too much when we are alone
- Too much time with mindless entertainment
- Getting drunk
- Too much time on mindless websites
- Trying to impress people
- Pursuing material goods beyond our financial means
- Pursuing material goods beyond what is reasonably necessary
- Wasting time on things you don’t actually care about
- Being easily distractible
- Hanging out with people you don’t truly care about
Many of these behaviors sneak into our lives by offering us pleasure (something enjoyable that only lasts for a moment), when we truly want happiness (an enduring sense of contentment, wonder, and joy). We engage with them not because we truly love them, but because we are feeling isolated and want connection or we are frustrated by the task at hand and want distraction.
The numbing agents offer a quick dose of pleasure and distraction, though no true happiness. We allow them in, pretending that they will somehow make our lives better, not worse.
To access happiness you have to cast away – or at the very least reduce – the numbing agents in your life.
As you begin to eliminate the things that are subtly bringing you down, you will be creating new space for passion, happiness, and energy.