Tag Archives: What does not work?

Making Your Life Golden

SABON“>Sabon

By Mark Ford

I have always been a strong opponent of television. But, K and I recently started watching it together. Just a little bit here and there; enough to get me thinking about the way people spend their recreational time.

It made me wonder if the kind of activities we engage in during our down time really makes a difference.

I’ve also pointed out that the more time you spend working, the more successful you’re likely to be – but acknowledge that even the most ambitious and hardest workers need to take at least a few hours out of the day to do something that gives them pleasure.

Something that doesn’t work.

The question then becomes, “What should that ‘something’ be?”

As I said, just about any activity we choose to do can fit into one of three categories. It can:

  • Damage us in some way
  • Improve us somehow
  • Leave us more or less the same

Think of the best choices – the ones that improve you – as Golden.

Think of the neutral choices – the ones that just help you pass the time – as Vaporous.

And think of the worst choices – the ones that hurt you – as Acidic.

It’s up to you how much Gold, Vapor, and Acid you are going to have in your life.

When I think of my own choices – good, bad, and neutral – I notice that they have the following characteristics:

Golden Choices

My best experiences tend to be with activities that are intellectually challenging and emotionally engaging. Because they demand a lot from me, I shy away from them when I am low in energy. But when I do get into them, they build my energy and thus make it easier to continue. When I am through with such an activity, I feel good about myself and content with how I have spent my time.

Vaporous Choices

These activities are easy to slip into and easier, too, to stay involved with. They are the choices we make when we don’t feel like making choices. The time we spend when we don’t much care how we spend our time. Welcome to the Vapor zone, the neutral, happy world of poker and sitcoms and gossip.

When I’m ready for some relaxation, my first impulse is always to choose a Vaporous activity. Having “worked hard all day,” I want something simple and mindless so I can gear down. And most people would probably say the same thing. Getting into the Vapor zone is easy – and staying there is easier still.

The big problem with Vaporous activities – and this is a very big problem for me – is that they leave me feeling enervated instead of energized. And empty. Vaporous activities do for me what Vaporous foods (i.e., comfort foods) do: They fill me up but tire me out.

Acidic Choices

Everybody has vices. At one time or another, I’ve had just about all of them. I have never smoked crack, but I’ve done plenty of other things to destroy, reduce, or disable myself.

Why I do these things, I can only guess. Sometimes I think I need the challenge of surviving self-imposed obstacles. Whatever my reasons, the result of making those choices is generally the same.

I get a dull pleasure that is mixed with a barely discernible level of pain. Even when the pleasure is intense, it is clouded by a foggy brain. It feels like I’m having a great time … but I am not sure. And if the actual experience of Acidic activities is mixed, the feeling afterward is not at all ambivalent. It is bad.

The interesting thing about Acidic options is how attractive they can be. Nobody would argue that they are good choices. We pick them because we are too weak to pick anything else, and we use what little mind we have left to rationalize our self-destruction.

Let’s Take a Closer Look at These 3 Categories

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