Last month, I had the pleasure of hearing Judith Wright speak on her pet topic of soft addictions. It's a curious topic--we all know what addictions are, and we know they're bad. But "soft addictions"? Intriguing, and her demo reel shows it, with a lineup of major media appearances from all over the country. I went home with her books, The Soft Addiction Solution and The One Decision in my bag, curious about what Ms. Wright might have to say about my self-confessed ability to watch entirely too much television.
Her definition, to begin:
She points out that while we all have these habits, what defines a "soft addiction" is the frequently and use of the habit. Watching a program we enjoy on TV--that's OK. Surfing idly for hours to escape reality or to zone out after a busy day--hmm, what are you trying to escape from, and does it actually help?
The definition was intriguing and an interesting way of looking at some of the less-than-healthy routines some of us have set up in our lives that end up robbing us of time and energy we could be spending on pursuing the hopes, dreams and activities that we truly value--no argument there. And the coinage of "soft addiction" is truly brilliant; "soft" makes the term a bit easier to admit and own up to and "addiction" has that connotation of negative feedback loop that detracts from our lives.
And there is a lot of value in simply identifying which parts of our lives and daily routines aren't feeding our purposes and our stated goals and values--you guys know how strongly I believe in goal-setting based on our stated values so that our everyday lives reflect what we value in life. So sure, I'm going to be a fan of any type of self-reflection that could help keep one on track and aligned with one's values.
I will say that the usefulness seems to stop there; with respect to ridding oneself of these soft addictions and making "the one decision," I'd recommend going out and investing in a copy of Everyday Zen: Love and Work, by Charlotte Joko Beck, which is a deeper and more cogent explanation of integrating love, life and work. The philosophy of making one powerful decision to live life a certain way is a strong one, but Ms. Wright's explanations seem vaguely positive and zen-ish without going more deeply into zen philosophy. Or any philosophy; the whole transition process seems to come across as the stale "make a decision to be positive and your life will change" without any solid philosophy behind it. Her solution of "just make a decision and change" seems to fall a bit flat for me, and it seems she continually almost espouses zen philosophies but skims over them rather shallowly.
So skim Wright's book to dig out your own soft addictions, and then go read Beck's excellent (and extremely readable treatise) on Zen to really put it into practice and opt to live meaningfully on a daily basis.