What Are The Real Enemies In Your Life?

darth vader

by Vlad Dolezal on March 30, 2010

I was recently reading my copy of Tim Brownson‘s Don’t Ask Stupid Questions. At the end of one of the chapters, he inconspicuously tucked in this question:

What are the real enemies in your life?

Despite being a single sentence, it got me pacing around my room and muttering to myself for about half an hour (If you saw me then, you would doubt my sanity to even take care of myself, let alone help other people through life coaching) . What are the real enemies in my life?

Tim asked the question in the context of a chapter called “Death is not the enemy”. He says that death is not the enemy, because we’re all going to die eventually. What most people are afraid of is not death, but not making the most of their life.

So I thought about what are the real enemies in my life. More importantly, I also thought about what are not the real enemies in my life.

Too often, we end up trying to avoid all the wrong things, and end up in an unhappy unfulfilled place. We run away from imaginary evils so much we completely forget about where we’re running towards.

Challenges are not the enemy. In fact, they’re one of the most important ingredients of a fulfilling life.

Or a big realization I had recently – boredom is not the enemy. Having plenty of free time with nothing specific to do is one of the most glorious states of the human mind! (This has been a huge breakthrough for me. I’ll cover it in much more detail once I manage to wrap my head around it.)

Instead, I realized that all the ways I used to avoid “boredom”, like browsing reddit, watching humour videos online, etc., were actually leaving me more bored and generally feeling like crap than before. It wasn’t the free time with nothing to do that was my enemy, it was a combination of completely different factors. (Like a tired mind, not enough exercise, and others.)

I could go on about what I found out about myself, but that’s not the point of this post. The point is – what are the real enemies in your life?

And also, what are the things you try to avoid, even though they are NOT the real enemies?

The answer will be different for every person reading this article. (That’s good news for me, because otherwise I could just write a single book answering everyone’s problems and then give up life coaching and go live in a cave on a mountain.)

If you come up with something especially significant for you, feel free to share it in the comments. Even though we’re all different, other people might see a reflection of themselves in your comment.

But don’t feel pressured to do so. I’ll be ok if you don’t leave a comment. This post is for you to get the most value from! And to do that, simply take the time to answer the question:

What are the real enemies in your life?

(image courtesy of kennymatic)

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Sid Savara March 30, 2010 at 20:05

You know, there are the usual suspects of procrastination, laziness, etc

I think one really interesting post I read recently was about “fake achievement” – and to me, that’s probably my biggest enemy. Getting recognition for things that don’t actually matter to my long term goals, but they make me feel good and so I chase them. The example given in the article was video games, but I think it expands far more broadly

Ultimately it comes down to this: I want to enjoy life and “feel good” (basically, dopamine release) – but with so much artificial things that make us happy, I can go through life without actually accomplishing anything real, but feel like I have accomplished a lot

One specific example, since I feel like this comment is getting very murky: having 0 items in my rss reader. I feel good about it. Who cares? Why does this matter? How does this metric show *any* positive results long term in my life? I can get it to zero by marking it all as read. I can get it *closer* just by unsubscribing. So why should I reward myself at all for quickly reading and clearing it out?

Really what I want to track is quality articles read. But it’s not directly correlated with having 0 unread in my GReader 😉
.-= Sid Savara´s last blog ..13 Ways To Improve Your Concentration With a Distraction Free Work Environment =-.

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Vlad Dolezal March 30, 2010 at 21:49

@Sid:

I really like the example of “fake accomplishment”. That’s definitely been a big one for me.

I also read a brilliant article recently on how video games get people addicted, exactly by using this whole inbuilt reward mechanism. Very interesting read:

http://www.cracked.com/article_18461_5-creepy-ways-video-games-are-trying-to-get-you-addicted.html

Anyway, thanks for your input! I long ago gave up on having 0 unread RSS items when I realized some of my subscriptions aren’t worth always keeping up with 🙂

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Sid Savara March 31, 2010 at 03:05

Haha. That’s the article ;). Maybe we both saw it on HN or something
.-= Sid Savara´s last blog ..13 Ways To Improve Your Concentration With a Distraction Free Work Environment =-.

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Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey March 31, 2010 at 18:29

Sadly to say I can be my own worst enemy. Especially when it comes to opportunities in life. I make my own excuses as to why I shouldn’t do this or that when they are perfect opportunities and doors are opening or closing.

This really gets me thinking, What the real enemies in my life are. Thanks for sharing Vlad!
.-= Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey´s last blog ..You Know You’re Favored by God When… =-.

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Vlad Dolezal April 1, 2010 at 15:19

@Sid:

I saw it straight on Cracked. One of the sites I used to waste my time on 🙂

@Jarrod:

Glad it made you think!

On a almost-but-not-quite entirely unrelated note, we were talking with some friends yesterday about what our superhero identities would be, and then went on to talk what our arch-nemesis would be like (since their power always somehow match up with the superhero’s).

Being your own arch-nemesis… that’s absolutely brilliant! I’m stealing that one 😀

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Robby April 14, 2010 at 07:08

The real enemy for many people is living life to meet someone elses expectations and live up to some set standards. I catch myself doing it over and over again, and every time I force myself to stop the rat race and ask myself a question – do I really need to do this?

Raising your social status to feel more respected… Planning setting up business to end up in the same boat with thousands of fat-men-in-BMWs… Behaving in order to be liked and please others regardless of your own convictions…

It’s not so easy to keep up with your true self and not get lost in the world of illusive values. But it’s crucial if you don’t want to waste years of your life and suddenly realize – what was it all for?

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Vlad Dolezal April 14, 2010 at 09:00

@Robby:

That’s a really good one. Thanks for sharing!

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Robby April 14, 2010 at 18:30

No problems! I have to thank you from my part for being there and reminding me of those things once more. My life is not ideally organized still and that’s a state of mind worth aiming for – complete contentment… It’s all easier said than done, but then – we’re all human, aren’t we? 😉
.-= Robby´s last blog ..‘Th’ Pronunciation – Thank You or Senk You? =-.

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