Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obsession - Are You Doing Other People's Homework?

When I was in high school, things came pretty easy to me. I had empathy for those who did not pick up on things so quickly. So much so that I would often take it upon myself to help them catch up in class. This actually put me in a position where I had to stay late to finish some final projects because I hadn't spent enough time on my own work.

I was not experiencing bipolarism at the time. It was just a bad habit. But, when you are chemically imbalanced, this same type of behavior can exhibit itself in the extreme.

In my own experience, during one fairly lengthy episode I took to joining scientific forums and going on for hours about the cosmos, it's origins and the nature of physics. I'm not a scientist, just curious. All this would have been fine except that I had two businesses barely hanging on and I was spending five hours a day or more on something that was not benefiting myself, my businesses or my family in any way, shape or form. Fortunately I caught on after a while. Now when I notice myself falling into some kind of obsessive behavior, I try to direct it toward something more productive. I'll still find an hour or two a week to ponder the universe, but if I'm going to spend 1/3 of a day on something, it better be making me money or improving my lot in life in some way. No more doing other people's homework.

Be on guard for such behavior. You may not be able to control the chemicals that run through your bloodstream, but again, you can control your reaction to them with practice. If you find yourself spending a lot of time pondering one thing, or engaged in a specific type of activity, stop and look at the situation objectively. Does it make sense? Are there better ways to spend your time? What are your goals for the next 6 months, 3 years, 5 years? What can you be doing now to get you closer to them? Why aren't you doing that instead of trying to become the Sudoko champion of the world?

A good way to start is to simply make a list each morning of the things you'd like to accomplish today. If you get them all done you can spend a little time in trivial pursuits. Eventually you want to mesh the things you have to do with things you like to do. You can do this by trying to find entertainment value in the things you have to do, as well as constantly reevaluating what it is you think you want to do.

If you can find a way to pursue your interests in a way that benefits someone else, you've stumbled onto a potential productive enterprise. We call it capitalism. Don't be in too big a hurry. You don't have to figure it all out this week. Just keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities and take them when they arise. In the meantime, don't lose sight of your present reality. Do your own homework.

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