“Learned we may be with another man’s learning: we can only be wise with wisdom of our own.”― Michel de Montaigne
PLING! A new notification has arrived. Great, cause I’ve been working on the computer for a while now and I need a break (shhhh, don’t tell anyone it’s actually a little dopamine hit what I crave).
I open my WhatsApp and find a message from my mother in the family group. Not enough. I wonder how my recent Reddit post is going? I should check it, I mean, it’s important to know how my post is going. I check it. 3 more upvotes. Ok, I think that’s good. What about Instagram? I should check the image I posted as well, I need to know my metrics.
Geez. Now that I’ve lost 15 minutes checking my posts I realize that I was just bullshiting myself. Checking my phone 15 times a day to check the likes of my posts and writings is not going to do shit. I know it, and yet I keep doing it.
But yesterday… I had an epiphany.
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”― Marcus Aurelius
It’s funny I preach so much about this quote, and yet I hadn’t really completely internalized it.
The obstacle is the way
What is fun? What is entertaining?
Looking at your phone screen for hours on end? Or reading a book or maybe an article?
I think the question here is, what is harder? Certainly reading a book. Checking Instagram is soooo easy, you just have to scroll and watch stories.
For me, I have a problem.
You see, my work requires long stretches of concentration that drain me mentally. I cannot have super long breaks either, so social media is perfect for 1-minute breaks or 2 minutes. I suspect a lot of people experience something similar. That’s why social media is so pervasive, it’s easy and it’s quick. It’s mental junk food. It’s like having a Dorito every half an hour, washed down with Coke. It tastes good, but it absolutely does no good.
I’ve indulged in that diet for the last couple of days and it is disgusting.
You only have so much time in the day. The reasonable thing to do would be to prioritize, get done what needs to be done and find space to push forward my personal projects that will allow me to have more free time to cook, photograph, and stare at the wall.
Don’t binge on Social Media, instead, if you need a break. Set a timer and look at the ceiling for a minute. It’s actually 100 times better. Your mind does not ‘refresh’ with social media, it just sets itself on overdrive, draining you even more.
The obstacle is the way, means switching from letting yourself swerve towards the easy stuff, and instead, taking the reins and riding unto the hard stuff that’s going to get you further in your life.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”― Theodore Roosevelt
What would you rather be doing? Honestly? Writing? Photographing? Spending more time with your family? What would you rather be doing? Don’t lie to me.
But I can’t! Because of this and that!
Haha! Congratulations! You just found your way. Remember, the obstacle is the way. Use your head, get to work.
Thanks for reading,
Subscribe and receive the Askesis (practice) e-book for free to further develop your practice of stoicism.