If someone tried to take your life, wouldn't you fight him tooth and claw? So why do we mindlessly hand over so much of our lives to non-productive activities, seemingly harmless habits like watching too much TV, surfing the net for hours or even gossiping? In moderation, such activities are relatively innocuous. But when we overdo them, they become soft addictions that rob us of time, energy, money, relationship and consciousness. We give away months and years of our precious lives to these guilty little pleasures without realizing it.
While many people might admit that they spend too much time on soft addictions, they don't see how much these habits cost them personally. Often their lives are full, but not fulfilling--leaving them feeling that "there must be more than this. We starve for more life, love and meaning without knowing how to create it. Our soft addictions numb us to these deeper hungers for connection and fulfillment.
Because the word "addictions" makes us thinks of dependencies like substance abuse, we want to deny our compulsion to shop is an addiction. Or we see these patterns as a sign there's something wrong with us. There's nothing to hide. It's not wrong or immoral to have soft addictions. It's just that there are far better things you could be doing with your talents and resources, things that would also bring you fulfillment.
Becoming aware of how we get trapped in a web of soft addictions can help us make more fulfilling choices. For instance, Denise had a thing for gourmet coffee. She'd get buzzed and jittery from the caffeine then find herself biting her nails with nervous energy and talking too fast with her sales clients. She'd then try to calm down by eating ice cream and unwind with hours of television or surfing the net. Before she knew it, it was late and she rolled into bed. Getting up early the next day for work, she was tired and her first thought was to go get some gourmet coffee and the cycle started over again. No one's saying to entirely give up coffee, television or the Internet. But it can be sobering to see how much of yourself you give to soft addictions. If you have only so much time and treasure to spend in life, resources devoted to soft addictions aren't available to invest elsewhere.
If seeing the costs of your soft addictions spurs you to confront them, there are eight key life skills you can learn to start curbing your soft addictions and make better choices. Here are two skills to help you get started.
First, make the "One Decision"- decide that you want a meaningful life in which you feel your feelings, express your truths, act on your convictions and chase your dreams. It's not a life spent numbed out and glazed over to a life of soft addictions. The "One Decision" is your commitment to live more clearly each day - - to go for fulfilling your deeper hungers instead of surface wants. It's a yardstick for choosing how to spend your time. If you want a fulfilling life, is what you're doing right now leading there? There are no right answers, only conscious choices about how to live.
For instance, a businesswoman complained of not having time to exercise and be with her husband. She also realized that she spent about five hours a week thumbing through catalogs. Using her "One Decision," whenever she started to reach for a catalog, she talked to her husband or went for a walk instead. Today, she's much closer to her husband and she's lost weight. She has more of the life she wants.
With the "Math of More," by adding more satisfying activities, you naturally subtract your non-nourishing soft addictions. If you've planned a fun evening out with friends, you're less likely to slump on the couch watching "Friends." Adding real nourishment to your life just seems to naturally weaken the allure of soft addictions. Conversely, limiting soft addictions automatically adds new time, resources and consciousness to your life.
The funny thing about our soft addictions is that they contain the information we need to overcome them. Encoded within every soft addiction is the deeper hunger that longs to be satisfied. Maybe the person who gossips craves feeling important. Maybe the person who's lost in a catalog wishes she were lovely and loved.
Underneath our surface wants to gossip, overeat, overspend or disappear in cyberspace are deeper needs to love and be loved, to matter, to connect with others and to express who we are. It's when we finally answer the very real, very human cry from our heart that's beneath our soft addictions that we'll find the greater life, love, and meaning we seek.
Best-selling author, speaker, educator, Judith Wright shares her proven program that's transformed hundreds of lives in There Must Be More Than This: Finding More Life, Love, and Meaning by Overcoming Your Soft Addictions. For information, visit: www.theremustbemore.com or call 1-866-MORE-YOU.