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Good Addiction, Bad Addiction?

Typically we tend to think that all addictions are bad addictions. But what is an ‘addiction’ and what makes for a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ addiction?


Addict comes from the Latin [addico] which literally means to ‘deliver, devote, surrender’. So in some ways let us say you’re addicted to crack cocaine, you surrender yourself to this addiction and drug. Or let us say that you are addicted to money; you devote and surrender everything else in your life to pursue it.

Addicto as a verb

In Roman times, when you “ad-dico’d” something or someone you meant to speak of them favorably.

If we really break down the etymology, then ad (towards) + dico (to speak) means:

To speak towards something, on something, or favorably to something.

So perhaps if you are an Apple product addict, the more accurate sense is what you always speak favorably or prefer Apple products above everything else.

What makes for a ‘good’ vs ‘bad’ addiction?

Now this is where things get tricky — who is to say one addiction is ‘good’ while another addiction is ‘bad’? Certainly it all comes down to societal values.

For example it seems virtuous to be ‘addicted to reading books’ (because in modern society we have prized book reading as virtuous and good). But not all books are created equal. What if I am just addicted to reading Twilight 24/7 (and similar books of the sort)? And truth be told … most books are bad. I can only quote five or so books that has truly had a deep impact on my life. I follow Seneca in the gist:

Better to own a few books and re-read them a trillion times, than own a trillion books and read all of them (only once).

Nassim Taleb also touches on this point that when you re-read a (good) book, the second dose of the book can sometimes be 10x more beneficial! Exponential returns.


The simple takeaway:

There is no such thing as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ addiction … simply self-guided or not self-guided (you got no control).

The goal is you have supreme control!



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