“I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” – Groucho Marx.
I encourage people to avoid surrounding themselves with energy vampires (negative people) or environments, it’ll eat your soul! And now I find myself in a “physician heal thyself” situation – without knowing it I invited a vampire into my house, and need to do an exorcism (yeah, I know, you don’t exorcise vampires but this feels vaguely demonic).
What’s My Problem?
A couple of weeks ago, I started acting less like myself, less active more depressive. Acting more like a hopeless “what’s the point, we’re all just going to die” emo-kid than a vital creator in his prime. But why? I searched my psyche, at first blaming the old standbys laziness and apathy, but it didn’t feel right. I looked deeper, at the timing, did anything change around the time of my ennui? Then it dawned on me, it’s that damn book!
“Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief” by Lawrence Wright is a great piece of writing, and I recommend it heartily – but it has thoroughly bummed me out like a two-week heroin bender. But why? It wasn’t telling me anything I hadn’t heard before, sure its packed with new, lurid details, but the overarching tale of crazy was no revelation.
Then it hit me. For the better portion of three years I’ve researched, created a seminar and moderated a group focused on success (creating and executing goals). I don’t do it for money, I do it because I believe its the key to sustainable self-esteem (in other words, happiness) and helps give a context to day-to-day experience.
My success Meetup group is pro bono, has 86 members, with only about eight being regularly active. Scientology, on the other hand, requires total submission (sometimes by fist), huge chunks of cash payments “to get clear”, and has tens of thousands if not millions of followers. This type of thing blows my mind.
While the success stuff is essentially my hobby, it’s still a passion – and reflects a deep belief that our lives are for us to live, and us to give purpose. Clearly, the bulk of humanity wants nothing to do with that crazy talk, preferring instead handy soup-to-nuts life manuals emphasizing that all meaning is given to you from the outside – often in the form of secrets which get revealed. A world where everything good about us humans is attributed to extra-human forces – and we have to guess at how to align with that good.
Be that as it may, the effect of reading this book – with its endless descriptions of people from all walks of life gleefully relinquishing identity and will to leaders who are clearly nuts (abusive, delusional) – seriously started to deflate my “happy” balloon.
F*** That Noise
This unfortunate human trait isn’t any humongous revelation, a long time ago I read a sales book by Tom Hopkins where he observed (paraphrasing) “90% of people are losers, surround yourself with the 10%”. A little harsh, sure, but under its bombast the idea that you become what you surround yourself with – how you think, you mood, your ambitions – is spot on. This goes for the art and media you consume too, as my experience with this nutty Scientology book drove home for me. Listen to sad music, you’re gonna’ be sad, watch news programs continuously pimping collapse, you’re gonna’ be anxious. This may sound obvious, but it took me two weeks to catch on to the effect this single book was having on my mojo, and I’ve trained myself to spot this stuff – so be vigilant, spot these energy leeches in your life and zap ’em.
Look, my primary goal in life is to continuously evolve – improve on things I want to improve, force change where I can, and not get knocked off my game by change I can’t control. I’m in the middle of a 12-week set of goals (to shake off some serious winter lethargy) and I’m struggling – I need to focus all of my energies to succeed – not continuing to read this disturbing book is one action I’ll take to get there.
Stress, anxiety and fear are alarms that something’s out of whack in your life. If you ever feel less than 100% cool with life, take a moment to quiet down, then sift through all the things that make up your emotional ecosystem. If you want to feel good, that’s your right, but you need to take ownership of it. Part of being a good owner is knowing what to keep and what to cut loose. It’s a continuous process, things that are good for you in one phase of your life may become hideous albatrosses in another. If you choose to be happy, much like liberty, the cost is eternal vigilance.
Talk Is Cheap
A brief editorial note: I enjoy using this journal to share with you things I either find interesting or potentially helpful. I’m wary that I could be sending the message that you should stay in your head a lot if you’re facing challenges. Perish the thought. If you have to make a choice between thinking and acting, choose action.
There’s an inexhaustible number of resources on the internet on any topic you need to tackle, relationships, finances, emotion, illness – whatever. Even if you just want positive voices in my life, you can quickly find them.
Okay, end of sermon, get out there and create the life you want to live – be kind, be excellent.