Are you an Addict?

From Wikipedia:

“Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences.”

The two properties that characterize all addictive stimuli:

  • reinforcing (repeated exposure) and
  • intrinsically rewarding (it feels good)

Habits and patterns associated with addiction are typically characterized by:

  • immediate gratification (short-term reward), coupled with
  • delayed deleterious effects (long-term costs).

Addictions that come to mind:

  • alcohol
  • accountability
  • cocaine
  • dedication
  • nicotine
  • productivity
  • food
  • gambling
  • sex

Whoa! Back up the truck! Did I include accountability, dedication, and productivity in that list of addictions? Those are the positive terms we use in the business world. But they can become as addictive as the traditional addiction list.

One of the more profound concepts hitting the top of reading lists today is Deep Work. Isolating the time needed to be productive. The reason that it’s receiving attention is that we have so little opportunity to experience it. But, those who do carve out the deep work time are beginning to get labeled as superstars.

What’s preventing us from getting into deep work? Back to the definition of Addiction at the top:

A brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences. Compulsive: irresistible interesting or exciting; compelling.

Can’t get through that meeting without checking your phone?

Can’t stand to be out of touch 24/7?

Getting distracted by many commitments?

Never learning to say No to any request?

Making quick decisions rather than taking the time to learn and understand?

Many of these behaviors get labeled as accountable, dedication, productive. But when they become compulsive, they have long-term adverse consequences.

  • Burnout
  • Stress
  • Destroyed or damaged health and relationships.

And, by its nature, the longer you feed the monster, the harder it is to return to healthy behavior.

Remember the old TV commercial that said “This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.” You can imagine the images that went along with the words.

In today’s world, we need to change the paradigm to “This is your brain. This is your brain suffering from addiction.” It doesn’t make any difference what the drug is. It’s addiction that destroys your brain.

Originally posted on

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