I recently came across a story about a Knight that had a lot of promise. He was strong and brave, and everyone in the town thought he was destined for wonderful things. He was greeted one day in his room by the “seeing” ghost. Through the help of this ghost, he was able to see anything he wanted. He could instantly view anything his imagination could come up with. He could watch his heroes fighting battles, or his friends hanging out together. He could see the most beautiful girls in the world, and have them remove their clothing. Because of the availability of this “seeing” ghost, the knight began spending hours per day in his room watching the things that he wanted to see, having his dreams fulfilled over and over again right in front of him. Over time his training lessened as he spent more time watching others do the tough training. His interest in the town’s females became less as he watched the most beautiful girls he could imagine performing his wildest fantasies. The stimulus of what he watched had to increase over time to give him the same feeling as before. His obsession with “seeing” caused him to have fewer interests in his ordinary life. As time passed, he became a shell of his former self.
As the story goes, the knight eventually found out that the “seeing ghost” was actually the devil, and that he had been tricked. That night, the devil was coming for his town, and in his current state, the knight would be unable to defeat him. The knight asked why he had waited so long to fight him, and the devil responded that if he had come up directly he would have lost, but by slowly dripping poison into his mind, he was able to ensure victory. The knight reached a new low, knowing that he had failed. In his despair, the knight asked to see the beautiful girls one more time so that he could feel better… one last time. The devil answered him, “Always….”
This story hits on so many levels.
It shows clearly why our society is so depressed. We look to our phones and our “seeing” apps and technology. We get instant gratification in everything: food delivery, shopping, entertainment, lust, and fantasy. We get obsessed with the stories about other people doing what we wish we were doing. We see a lens into only the best parts of the lives of others. Instead of being excited about changing our lives, we watch others change their own lives. We live vicariously through others who are out chasing their dreams or sharing the images of the lives we want to have. In the end, the time that we use feeding our distractions takes away from our ability to build the life that we want. Time scrolling through fitness images prevents us from working out. Time spent seeing other people’s dream vacations stops us from budgeting and planning our own. We end up in a downward spiral of desire, lack of fulfillment, broken promises to ourselves, and fleeting motivation while we search for the next dopamine rush sourced through someone else’s existence. We really need to break the cycle. But how?
What is it that stops us from being able to get addicted to our own lives and living the way we want to?
Could it be that the conflict between our desire for comfort and nice things, and the uncomfortable nature of what it takes to get to those comforts is the root of the problem?
Growth is uncomfortable, change is hard, learning is tough, perseverance takes effort and energy is in limited supply. But what if we could re-wire our brains to enjoy the process of being uncomfortable? What if we thrived the most in an uncomfortable world where the journey and the struggle and the accomplishments that come from overcoming are what makes us happy?
It seems like the research on our body’s reward system responds to that exact stimuli. It is after the toughest workout that you get the biggest high. It is when you push your run the furthest that you feel most accomplished. The harder you study for the test, the better it feels when you pass. In short, the greater the suffering in pursuit of a goal, the bigger the reward for achieving it.
It’s time for me to put my fantasies down. I need to stop dreaming about what my life might be like and spend time suffering through the daily actions necessary to make those desires real.
The story about the Knight closes with a quote: “Hell is the place where the person you are meets the person you could have been.”
It’s time to fall in love with the pain part of becoming the best version of ourselves. Without pain, there is no victory.
I’ll go first.