I Just Can’t Cope

By Anthony Gold

My addiction started the summer right before college. It took an entire year until I was finally able to completely withdraw.

During that time, my life revolved entirely around my dependency.

It all started innocently enough – with just a single exposure.

I was at my friend’s house, and at 3 PM he turned on an ABC television program that he said we must watch. It was a soap opera called General Hospital.

By the end of the one-hour episode, I had not only gotten sucked in to the drama, but I was enamored by the storyline of Luke and Laura.

I became so addicted that I arranged all my classes and lectures to ensure that I could be back in my dorm by 3 pm to watch the next episode of GH. And during classes, I kept wondering what would happen next with Luke Spencer and Laura Baldwin.

I had always viewed college as one of the most important phases of my life. I knew that my class grades and lessons learned through student experience would greatly affect the rest of my life.

And yet I was allowing a one-hour fictional television program to impinge on that critical foundation.

Einstein’s General Relativity or General Hospital? Fourier and Lorentz transforms, or Luke & Laura?

It didn’t matter that so many other people were addicted to the same show nor that Luke and Laura’s wedding remains, to this day, the most-watched soap opera episode in television history.

What mattered is that it mattered – to me.

In a sense, we can say that an addiction is an attachment to some sort of pleasurable (rewarding) stimuli – at the risk of negative consequences. I want this thing because it feels good, even though it may not be helpful for me.

The significance of our addiction is directly correlated to the degree to which it matters to us.

And from that viewpoint, if we’re truly honest with ourselves, we see that we are addicted to many, many things.

Spend thirty seconds thinking about something that is upsetting you, and you will likely see an addiction at the core.

Likewise, spend another minute thinking about what you believe would make you happy, and there you’ll find another addiction.

With just a bit more insight we realize that at the root of all addiction is the belief that happiness and sadness come from the world, our bodies, and the bodies of those around us.

From this belief, our lives become the incessant, often unconscious, search for pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Minutes, hours, days, months, years pass in such futility.

Until the moment we come to the realization that we’ve got it all wrong and that there is another way of living in the world without being dominated by it.

From this awareness, all our experiences change. We no longer see the world and other people as responsible for our happiness (or lack thereof). We find the true source of joy as well as the ability to tap into it whenever we wish.

Join me in Monday’s class where we’ll explore the nature of addiction and how we can make a different choice – one that leads to much greater peace. I look forward to seeing you then.

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