A realization: what is holding us back from achieving our fullest potential in life? I don’t necessarily think it’s because we lack willpower or because we’re “lazy” and bad/evil people. I think the problem is that we’re a nation being sedated with drugs, alcohol, entertainment, video games, and media.
What is a “Sedative”?
A sedative is a drug that endures calm, or endures sleep. A sedative is what you give to your dog before they get surgery, or what you give to a child before they get their teeth pulled at the dentist. Sedatives are obviously a good thing if we are getting a very painful root canal, but not good if we are getting sedated everyday (self sedation) through the pain of our toilsome labor and work!
Now, I don’t believe that as humans we are naturally lazy and unmotivated, and would prefer to be flabby blobs of people, riding around on hovering armchairs like the future humans in the movie WALL-E. I think it’s in our human DNA to be explorers, adventurers, risk takers, and heroes!
Yet, the sad truth is that employment in modern society is just another form of institutionalized slavery. Consider, most of us working the typical office job are working probably from 9:30am to 6:30-7pm. Some of my banker friends have even more grueling work schedules: 7am-10pm everyday, besides (half days) on Sundays.
So, who can blame you from being exhausted and always overwhelmed and overworked? With this modern digital leash called a “smartphone” with work email installed in it (I remember in 2011 it was considered strange to have your work email installed on your personal phone; that was only for CEOs with blackberries and American Presidents). Anyways, we’re always expected to be good workers — answering to our emails, What’s app messages, and now Facebook messenger, Instagram direct messages, text messages, and so forth.
After a grueling day of toil some labor, we want to sedate the pain, stress, anxiety of it all. Weed, alcohol, Netflix, video games, seem to be common sedatives after work.
To be honest, once again — I don’t blame people; I blame the capitalist system. The system has made us overworked and overly stressed with our work with the insanely rapid growing technology (more instantaneous communication, and mobile devices) which are over working and over-tasking our minds and sanity.
But the sad thing about video games, Netflix, social media, the news, drugs, alcohol, sex, etc — is that most of it is used as a sedative — to dull away the pain of everyday life and living and work. We want sedatives to feel calm, peaceful, and to actually fall asleep at night (another growing trend is a new reliance on sleeping medication).
Aldous Huxley warned us of a “brave new world” in which we, the citizens, would be sedated into submission with this drug called “soma”– imagine the drug ecstasy with no downsides or hangovers. If we felt bad, sad, anxious, or depressed, just pop a tablet of soma, and suddenly you’d feel good! Then throw in a few sexual orgies and all the “bad feelings” would go away.
Now, I don’t think that media is bad in itself — it’s like water. Water can be used to nourish us and give us life, but water can also be used to “waterboard” torture someone.
Media in the excess now is sedating and killing our human ambition. What’s the point of being ambitious, taking entrepreneurial risks in real life, and expose yourself to the possibility of failure, when it’s safer and more fun to just watch an episode of Game of Thrones, or perhaps a round (or two) of Fortnite?
If you’re currently stuck in a job you have, and constantly exhausted, stressed, and have no power or energy to pursue your passions, I feel for you. I don’t blame you at all.
There’s many suggestions I can give, some being:
- Start looking for a new job on linkedin or Craigslist, or ask some friends for job recommendations. If you’re feeling stuck at your job, jump to another company. You’ll usually get an increased salary, and you might feel less miserable at this new job. Overall, I think change is always good. You’ll feel fresh with new challenges, new coworkers, and might have new challenges. There’s almost no downside to applying for new jobs.
- Take a year break from working and live in Saigon, Vietnam. I seriously love this place, it’s my favorite city in the world. Great good, low-cost of living, super fast wifi everywhere, friendly folks, good weather, and amazing coffee and cafes. Take a year off, live here in a hotel or airbnb, and use a year to reflect and meditate on your life, make artwork, and philosophize about what direction you want to take your life.
- Assuming you stay at your job find more opportunities for happiness and creating artwork. For example, when you get home, just take a nice cold (or hot) shower, and refrain from watching Netflix or playing stimulating video games, and just sleep early, then wake up early the next day to work on your passionate art projects for thirty minutes a day. Or just walk around the block for 30 minutes a day and shoot street photography around your office. Create something everyday, 30 minutes a day, for 30 days– I can guarantee you’ll be much happier!
Lastly, memento mori. You live in a free country, where nobody is holding you with balls and chains to stay at your company. You might have the golden handcuffs, but you always have the option to quit. Even Jeff Bells left his very lucrative job (in the middle of bonus season, which is essentially another pair of golden handcuffs) in order to start this speculative internet company, which he would call “Amazon”.
Take control and fate in your own hands. Don’t placate to others, or self sedate yourself. Make yourself great, everyday, and make stuff which empowers you, do things which give you meaning and purpose in life, and share it with others to empower them, and work for future generations of humanity — something greater than ourselves.
You got this.