Encouragement and discouragement

What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning? What makes you want to roll over and block out the world? When the necessity of getting up to perform a duty at a particular time is likely first to make you want to lie longer, and then curl up in shame at failure which purges your motivation completely, you are “depressed”. What can make you continue? For me-

Social media gives variable rewards, which are more addictive because less fulfilling. I find myself more keen to check the Guardian opinion section because I may write a comment, which may get up votes. There are four opinion contents pages, and this one indicates when comments are opened by digits. If “0” shows, there is the heady possibility of getting one of the six comments seen by most people, and therefore getting most up votes. I sometimes comment to “join the discussion”, and sometimes for the up votes.

At best, up votes give me a dopamine high, as nourishing as sugar, which might get me out of bed. At worst, hunting up votes gets me repeatedly returning to a page to see I have no more votes than last time. Or my blog stats page, to find no more views, especially after a day when I have had lots of votes or views.

Facebook is the worst. Clicking there might show a notification, but it might be a Like (Hooray!) or a disagreeable comment, which sucks me into a pointless argument. Or some bore has invited me to Like their page. Scrolling might show something interesting at first, but as I go on less and less interests me.

The fact that returns are diminishing increases my compulsion to keep on scrolling. Surely there must be a dopamine hit eventually!

Reaching for my phone in the morning at best gives a sugar high which is short-lived, and distracts me to seek its repetition for the rest of the day, and at worst sinks me into a fruitless search for such a high. It’s not quite

Gnashed her teeth for baulked desire, and wept
as if her heart would break

but I cannot drive Goblin Market from my mind.

The idea of getting up a little earlier to have time for meditation always crosses my mind, seeming to be an attractive possibility, and never tempts me so much that I actually do it.

I am in the toils of seeking immediate gratification. Duty advances my goals, but so slowly! And are they my goals anyway, or introjected?

Possibly I could wean myself off the dopamine, I think, especially after a particularly large hit of it, and find myself always returning. The Guardian informs me, and gives me new ways of seeing, though often it just stoked my rage and frustration with the same old stuff. Facebook gives me the illusion of social contact, and insofar as it is attractive parasites off that need.

Find delight in acting appropriately, says Marcus Aurelius, Meditations X.33. I feel seeking solid joys and lasting treasure should inspire me, and I still pick up my phone in the mornings.

Sometimes I turn from the phone, my head feeling stuffed with dough, and wish for clear perception. Sometimes my mantra

I am here. This is. I am.

seems to hold out hope for that. I had hoped when starting this post it would be more positive, more about solutions than problems, but, oh well. Aurelius just nags:

At dawn of day, when you dislike being called, have this thought ready: ‘I am called to man’s labour; why then do I make a difficulty if I am going out to do what I was born to do and what I was brought into the world for? Is it for this that I am fashioned, to lie in bedclothes and keep myself warm?’ Is that the best one can do?

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