Friday, March 4, 2011


I have been thinking about addiction since yesterday. I am reading a book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In it he talks about the amount of sensory input a person can process at one time and then through simple multiplication arrives at how much sensory input a person can process in their entire lifetime. The number is approximately 185 billion events in an entire lifetime. This sounds like a lot, but really when you are talking about an entire lifetime it is not that much. Csikszentmihalyi says, "Therefore, the information we allow into consciousness becomes extremely important; it is, in fact, what determines the content and quality of life."

This got me thinking. Although, I can do a little about past content that may or may not already exist in my consciousness, I have almost complete control of what new input I expose myself to. This is not a new idea either but for some reason it became very relevant as I was reading last night.

This is where I began to ponder addiction. What behaviors, choices, and patterns do I have that add nothing to the quality of my life? Addiction is defined as:

state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

But the root of the word is
this word: (Latin) addicti┼Źn, and it has a different definition: a giving over, surrender.

So then I framed a question for myself: What I am surrendering my 185 billion possible lifetime events to that adds no quality to my life? For me the answer to this question lies in patterns of behavior that many people would probably not call addiction but patterns I feel clearly are. Here are some of mine: worry, caring to much what people think of me, spending too much time engaging with electronic media in a non quality fashion, and many more.

But then this question followed:

What events do I need to surrender more to to add to the quality of my life? Some of the answers are playing with our kids and pets, creating more in whatever form I choose, laughing more, loving more, dancing more, using my intuition more, and having more gratitude for the wonderful life I already have. All of these things will require me to surrender the things that do not add to my life. All these things will take moment to moment discipline in cultivating. But , when I look back down the road of life 5 or 8 years I realize I have already surrendered many things to have a life of quality. I see that I have the discipline to walk away from old patterns of behavior. It does not happen over night but it happens in a flowing fashion of opening myself up to the grace of each unfolding moment.


  1. Interesting information to ponder. I wonder why it seems so hard sometimes to just do those things that bring us more joy? Ingrained patterns I guess or perhaps not living an entire lifetime of being able to know ourselves from the get go in a very deep and intuitive way because we always had others telling us what to do and what was important.

  2. I was taught that my joy was insignificant, selfish even. I think many people were in small ways taught to not trust themselves, to sacrifice for the greater good, etc. I go through periods of absolute faith in my intuition and trust in my joy, back to what I knew before. It is a painful process but each time I come out understanding my own patterns and pitfalls a little better and seeing the value in letting my knowing guide my life to joy. :)